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Grasser Drawing on European Experience for IMSA Switch

Austrian squad’s prior knowledge of running three-car GT3 programs will help it in IMSA…

Photo: John Dagys

GRT Grasser Racing’s three-car Rolex 24 at Daytona program will draw influence from the team’s successful multi-car campaigns in Europe, according to the team’s principal.

The Austrian squad is contesting its first full WeatherTech Championship season in partnership with two entries under the GEAR Racing and GRT Magnus banners.

These two Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos will be supported by a third GRT-labeled entry for this month’s season-opener.

The triple-pronged lineup evokes GRT’s previous European assaults with the same number of cars in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance and Sprint championships.

“The crew lineup is more or less the same [as in Europe],” Gottfried Grasser told Sportscar365.

“For sure some things are working a little differently here, but we have a good split with some American employees and our guys. It looks good at the moment. We are happy.

“We are working with Peter [Baron] for a second year. He’s a good guy, a lot of fun. It works very well. There’s a nice space there for us to work.”

Grasser explained that the deal to run the Magnus Lamborghini for the full season sprung up at late notice.

The Magnus car, which will be driven by John Potter and Andy Lally, is the same chassis the team used last season while the GEAR and GRT cars are brand-new chassis.

“The final decision to do the deal with Magnus was more or less the last car [to be decided],” said Grasser.

“We met John at Road Atlanta [in October] and we had a good talk, we understood his ideas and he was asking if he can handle this car.

“It’s a good synergy to run more than one car because you have a good cost-sharing of everything from operational costs to crew costs.

“You can make it much better and easier. We had the people anyway – we have been running three cars in Europe for a long time.”

The GEAR program, which features an all-female lineup, was also formulated late last year according to Grasser.

“The idea started with Christina [Nielsen] at the SRO prize-giving ceremony in Las Vegas,” he said. “We were sitting one table next to each other and talked.

“Then the idea was born, and we came together with Mark [Ruggieri, GEAR team owner]. It was a four-week shot to build this all up.

“For me, the question was only: do they need a car? Yes or no? And they said, ‘yes, we need a car’, so I put it into the plane and shipped it over! This was the most important thing.

“I am really proud of this project because it’s a really good lineup and something really special.”

Three-Car Entry a “Good Base” for Rolex 24 Defense

Grasser believes that committing to the Rolex 24 with three cars will be an advantage for the team as it aims to pick up a third consecutive GTD class victory.

The team won the 2018 edition of the race with a two-car effort and successfully defended its crown last year with a single Lamborghini entry.

“Every race is different and it’s always an up-and-down,” said Grasser. “You need to have luck and to survive the distance. But we have really good lineups in all three cars.

“In every car there are drivers who want this race. In total there are nine Rolexes on these two [full-season] cars. I think it’s a good base. Let’s see what happens.”

GRT’s No. 11 Lamborghini is currently listed for the Michelin Endurance Cup rounds only but Grasser wouldn’t completely rule out giving it further outings in the shorter WeatherTech Championship races.

“At the moment, we do not plan [it],” he said. “I would say most of the season is done after Sebring, so let’s see what’s the outcome after that.

“The base program is that it’s just the endurance. Maybe it will do some sprints. We already have the cars here in America.”

John Dagys contributed to this report

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

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