Connect with us

Intercontinental GT Challenge

Blancpain GT Leaders Grasser Taking “Conservative” Approach to Spa

Blancpain GT Leaders GRT take “conservative” approach to 24H Spa…

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Grasser Racing Team owner Gottfried Grasser says his team will take a conservative approach to this weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa, amid tire-related issues for the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 spread across multiple series.

The No. 63 Lamborghini of Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart, paired with Andrea Caldarelli for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup rounds, arrives at Spa leading the overall championship after dominating the first half of the season.

The Lamborghini has struggled with the new Pirelli P Zero DHD compound at the last couple of races, which even resulted in big crashes at the Spa Test Day and the most recent ADAC GT Masters round at Zandvoort last weekend.

“We had a big crash at Blanchimont during the Test Day that was caused by tire failure,” Grasser told Sportscar365. “We repaired the car and it ran during a private test the next day to find a solution for handling the tires.

“We found some small improvements, but we don’t have a solution unfortunately. We have a very good car for this track, but we cannot use it.”

Grasser explained the current issue differs from the tire concerns it experienced at the start of the season in Misano, with both failures having taken place this time in high-speed corners. 

“The Lamborghini loads the rear tires too much,” Grasser explained. “For sure it helps a bit if you change the setup, running softer springs, reducing camber, tire pressure and so on.

“But this all has a big impact on lap time, so it’s not really a solution.

“Our setup is very conservative this weekend. We’ve never run like this before. I don’t expect to be competitive here at Spa. But it’s actually one of our best tracks if we could run the car like we want.”

It’s not just the setup that will be holding back this weekend, as the team has also instructed its drivers to avoid risks and focus on a points-scoring run to keep its championship hopes alive.

“The drivers are instructed to be more conservative,” Grasser said. “I don’t want to have any accidents and this is my priority.

“We need to avoid any failures, contact with other cars and just cross the finish.

“But one tire failure is enough to be out of the race. If you look at last year, if you have one puncture you can’t even finish in the top ten anymore.

“Spa is not a good track to have this problem. I hope there won’t be a point where we have to stop the car.”

Despite the issues, Grasser is confident the car still has enough pace to do well over a single lap.

Proof of that came in Thursday’s Free Practice session, which saw Bortolotti top the time sheets in the No. 63 Lamborghini.

“We have the pace over one lap, so qualifying will probably be our only highlight of the weekend,” Grasser said. “We will push for sure in the Super Pole.”

After wins at Monza and Silverstone, the team’s dominant streak came to an end at Paul Ricard, a track that falls within the same Balance of Performance category as Spa.

“You could see the effects of the Balance of Performance at Paul Ricard,” Grasser said. “When you’re too heavy, the car is not fast anymore and it also puts more load on the tires.”

On top of that, Grasser felt the No. 63 car was unfairly penalized for contact with a Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS, resulting in a one-minute stop-and-go in the race.

“Unfortunately we also got penalty, but our car was in front and the other crashed into us. You could clearly see that on the video images,” he said.

“Without it, we would have finished between P5 and P8 I think, which is quite ok for what we expected at Paul Ricard.”

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.

1 Comment

More in Intercontinental GT Challenge