The all-new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 will be one of the eye catchers in this year’s Blancpain Endurance Series, with Grasser Racing Team fielding two of the Dallara-built cars in the SRO-organized series.
After a remarkable season in the Blancpain Sprint Series with a Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo, the Italian manufacturer rewarded the small Austrian squad by selecting it as the development team.
“Already during the season we were approached by Lamborghini because of the results we were putting in,” team boss Gottfried Grasser told Sportscar365 at the Blancpain test days at Paul Ricard last week.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team to grow further. It is more or less what I always had in mind, because last year’s program [wouldn’t last].”
Together with the new Audi R8 LMS and the McLaren 650S, the Huracán is one of the first next-generation GT3s to hit ground running, giving it a small lead on the big wave of new GT3 machinery that’s expected in 2016.
“They already started to develop the Huracán GT3 at the beginning of 2014, with the first roll out in October,” Grasser said.
“We were already integrated in the project with a couple of our guys helping out during the build process.”
Grasser Racing Team will exclusively run the Dallara-built car until October, when the first customer cars will be delivered in time for the 2016 season.
“Besides racing we still have a big development program ahead of us,” he said.
“Before coming to Paul Ricard we already [accumulated] around 7,800 km on the first prototype and there weren’t any major mechanical issues with the car. I didn’t expect it to run so faultless up until now.
“In the end when you make the calculations, it will also play a big role in the running costs, the service intervals will be big, so the price goes down per kilometer.”
The bright green machine was one of the most productive cars during the two-day Paul Ricard test and added another 1,300 kms to its tally.
“Until now we did some six-hour tests, but we’re planning a longer one of 12 hours after the season opener at Monza,” Grasser said.
Lamborghini has put a lot of trust in GRT, as the team is basically still operating on its own, with minimal presence of Squadra Corse personnel.
“I like Lamborghini’s vision a lot,” Grasser said. “I’m not in motorsport to be tenth; we simply want to win races. Whether that’s possible will of course depend on the Balance of Performance.”
BoP has always been a sensitive subject in GT3 circles, but there has been considerably less complaining every since SRO introduced a new system based on circuit characteristics in 2014.
“It will be hard for SRO and the FIA to balance the new cars with the old this year, but I’m convinced they will do a good job,” he said.
“[Paul Ricard] was our first BoP test and at the moment the performance and potential of the Huracán has to be limited.
“We know how fast the car is when it’s not restricted and it’s really a big difference.”
From a driver’s point of view, 2013 Super Trofeo World Finals winner Andrew Palmer confirmed the Huracán is behaving very promising.
“It handles really well and is nice to drive. From the previous generation Audi R8 to this just feels like a step up all around,” Palmer said.
“Coming from driving the PC car at Daytona, the Huracán feels a bit more like a prototype. Obviously it’s still relatively heavy, but it doesn’t feel like that; it’s quite nimble.”
While the team excelled in the Sprint Series last year, it will focus on endurance in 2015, as requested by Lamborghini.
“Personally I would have loved to also return to the Sprint Series, because in my opinion that’s pure racing, while endurance is more tactical,” Grasser said.
“But this year it’s easier to handle the development work if we only do five races.”
Evidently the stakes are high for GRT and Lamborghini, as both parties try to convince the paddock of the quality and speed of their product in what promises to be a very fierce market place ahead of the 2016 season.
“I want to achieve a win, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, but you have to look at it more realistically,” Grasser said. “We only have one driver that is very experienced and the five others are young guns.
“Endurance races are usually won by really experienced drivers, but this doesn’t have to mean that our lineup isn’t right up there with the best.
“You have to start somewhere, we have to learn as a team, and they have to learn as drivers.”
American Palmer will team up with Fabio Babini, Jeroen Mul in the No. 19 car, with the No. 63 Huracan GT3 to be driven by Adrian Zaugg, Mirko Bortolotti and Giovanni Venturini.
“The driver pairings are great. Sharing the car with Fabio is a plus; he has so much experience, especially on the Pirelli tire,” Palmer said.
“There’s a lot of knowledge there, and with Jeroen [Mul] coming from the Porsche Supercup and European Formula 3 it’s a good pairing.
“We’re young, but I think a lot of us have some good solid experience. If Fabio wasn’t here, our average age would probably be the lowest on the grid.
“Both cars have a different driving style, but overall we’ll play the different strengths.”