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Grasser Set for Full-Season GTD Effort; Drops SRO Program

Grasser drops GT World Challenge Europe program in favor of full-season IMSA entries…

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

Grasser Racing Team is set to run two Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos for the full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season while dropping its GT World Challenge Europe commitments.

The Austrian team plans to focus its efforts on the North American series while continuing to run three cars in ADAC GT Masters.

It won the GT Daytona class in the last two editions of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and this year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, but is now set to mount a year-round entry in the WeatherTech Championship.

“Next season, [we have] a quite clear program already,” team principal Gottfried Grasser told Sportscar365.

“We are planning to do a two-car lineup in IMSA, for the whole season, sprint and endurance. This would be a dream for me, personally, because I really like IMSA racing.

“It’s fantastic racing in the championship there. I [went to] the race in Atlanta, Petit Le Mans, and it’s an incredible crowd, a lot of people, a lot of interest for this championship.

“When we do two cars [in IMSA], we have to say maybe no to [GT World Challenge Europe].”

Its two IMSA cars and a third spare chassis will be based at Peter Baron’s Starworks Motorsport workshop in Florida beginning in December, while the crew will include two mechanics from its European base. 

“[Peter] helps us a lot, and he also helps the Land Motorsport people and everything,” Grasser explained. “We use the same facility.

“He is organizing everything in the U.S. for us, and we will stay there. We have everything upfront. Starting from December, we will operate everything out of Florida, on that side.

“He keeps the cars, and we have committed to American mechanics and our crew from Europe.

“From our crew in Europe, two people decided to go over to the U.S. and they will make all the pre- and post-preparation of the race cars in the U.S.”

In addition to its GTD entries, Grasser suggested that an expansion to Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America could be on the cards.

“It also makes sense, we are talking a lot and Lamborghini is supporting us a lot, maybe also to do American Super Trofeo would be nice,” he explained.

“The championship is a good mix with IMSA, they have three events with IMSA, so maybe we get one or two cars also in Super Trofeo. It makes sense for us when we are already in the U.S.”

Michelin/Pirelli Testing Balance Plagued Early 2019 Results

Grasser says that difficulties between testing its Michelin tires for IMSA competition and Pirelli tires for Europe was a principal cause of the team’s difficult start to the European season.

“This season was not so easy for us because we spent too much attention in the beginning on the Michelin tires for IMSA, but it was good to do,” he said.

“We missed a lot of time with Pirelli on the new Evo car at the beginning of the season.”

The team was initially set to complete the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season this year but it dropped the Watkins Glen race and Petit Le Mans, in what Grasser admits was a mistake.

It prioritized the GT World Challenge Europe round at Misano over IMSA’s six-hour race at Watkins Glen and then decided against running at Petit Le Mans because its lack of points from The Glen ruled out any championship hopes.

“We planned [the four endurance races] but we focused too much on Blancpain and that’s why when we had a clash with Watkins Glen, we decided to do Blancpain [at Misano].

“At the end, when I look back now, it was maybe the wrong decision, honestly.

“If we would have been clever enough, we should have sent the car to Watkins Glen only to start it! It would have made sense with the points to go again.

“We learned out of it and for sure, it would have been better if we had stayed in the U.S.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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