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Cause of Grasser’s Race-Ending Sebring Accident Unclear

GRT unclear on cause of dramatic 12H Sebring crash; affected Lambo chassis to race on…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

The cause of the dramatic accident that led to Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo retiring from the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is yet to be determined, according to team principal Gottfried Grasser.

Lamborghini factory driver Franck Perera lost control of the 2019 Sebring GT Daytona class-winning team’s car approaching the Turn 3 left-hander and jumped over the inside curb before collecting the Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Billy Johnson.

Both drivers walked away from their vehicles after hitting the outside barriers, while Perera later said that a mechanical issue occurred as he arrived at the corner.

GRT team boss Grasser told Sportscar365 this week that the team has yet to find out exactly what caused the accident.

He also explained that the car’s chassis will be able to race again after coming away without major damage.

“Honestly we were pretty surprised because it was in pretty good condition,” said Grasser.

“It even did not have chassis damage. The impact looked much harder on the TV than in reality, because there was some big luck in the situation. Unfortunately it cost us the race, but in the end it was pretty OK.

“At the moment we still don’t know what the issue was. We saw it was a brake failure, but we couldn’t find any failure from the brakes.

“All the products and brake components related to the brakes are with the supplier to analyze what it was, and it will be really interesting. What we’ve seen on the damaged car that the brake was functioning absolutely normal. So it was really strange.”

Grasser explained that two key factors contributed to the chassis coming away without irreparable damage.

GRT has sent the No. 19 car back to its North American facility in Detroit and hopes to take it for a test at nearby Mid-Ohio in early May, ahead of the next IMSA round there.

“There are two lucky situations,” said Grasser. “Unfortunately for the Mercedes, it really broke the miles per hour down.

“And the second thing was that behind this tire barrier, the concrete walls were not fixed. This was a big [piece of] luck because if there would have been six concrete walls, I think it would have looked different.

“Honestly it was really damper damage and a bit on the radiator and front splitter, but that was it. The chassis had no scratches. It was really impressive; we have never seen this.

“We thought we were going to have to throw the chassis away, so we were really surprised when they brought it back to the paddock. They have put it on the bench to align everything and take all the measurements.”

No More U.S Outings for No. 111 Entry

While the No. 19 is registered for the full IMSA season, GRT has ruled out further race appearances for its No. 111 Lamborghini which contested the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Mirko Bortolotti, Marco Mapelli, Rolf Ineichen and Steijn Schothorst driving.

Before that event, GRT had looked at engaging the No. 111 in the full Michelin Endurance Cup, while further sprint race appearances were also being tentatively considered.

Neither of those options has been pursued, according to Grasser. The No. 111 had an arduous race at Daytona where it retired at half-distance after battling electrical issues.

“There were no points in Daytona for that car, so it did not make much sense [to do Sebring],” said Grasser.

“The guys are also doing a hard program in Europe with GT World Challenge and ADAC GT Masters and so on, so it was quite an easy decision for them to stay there because there was also a clash with a lot of GT World Challenge testing.”

Grasser added that the current IMSA schedule also supports the idea not to engage in a two-car effort for the remainder of the WeatherTech Championship season.

“IMSA did another [calendar] change, with the Detroit Grand Prix moving one weekend later which clashes with our ADAC race at the Red Bull Ring,” he said.

“This is really a shame. We have to do the Red Bull Ring because we are at the event with four cars running on the grid.

“This makes it nearly impossible, because then we would have a clash with Laguna Seca, Detroit, Mid-Ohio, Road America. So it makes no sense to do any more [with] the second car.

“It’s hard to do it with one car, but with two cars it’s impossible.”

Additionally, Grasser indicated that Misha Goikhberg is on course to return to the No. 19 Lamborghini lineup for Mid-Ohio after missing Sebring due to illness.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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