October is leaving Team GRT Grasser Racing with no time to relax as summer turns to autumn. After competing in the ADAC GT Masters at the Sachsenring, the Austrian outfit was back in action globally again over the weekend with the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO. GRT Grasser Racing’s crews faced season finales on two continents with the GT World Challenge Europe and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Lamborghini works driver Franck Perera and sports car specialist Misha Goikhberg were at the wheel for the eighth and final round of the Sprint Cup in the IMSA sports car championship at Virginia International Raceway in America. Posting the fastest lap of the entire round, they once again demonstrated their strong race pace, while back in Europe at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Kikko Galbiati, Clemens Schmid and Tim Zimmermann were busy tackling the fifth round of the prestigious GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup.
After contesting these two finales, GRT Grasser Racing will continue their campaign in Germany in two weeks’ time when the sixth round of the ADAC GT Masters season takes place at the Hockenheimring. GRT will field four Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVOs in the fight for the team title in the International German GT Championship as the season approaches an exciting climax. There will also be a final meeting in the USA when the endurance championship in the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship concludes this November with Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
GRT Grasser Racing Team secure hat-trick of IMSA fastest laps
A hectic sprint season ended for GRT Grasser Racing’s IMSA crew in the American state of Virginia with a race weekend and another race over 2 hours and 40 minutes around the famous 5.26km circuit on the east coast. Perera had a good showing in FP1 as the weekend kicked off, posting best time in the high-calibre GTD class.
Preparations went well, after which 34-year-old Goikhberg successfully qualified tenth in the strong field of GT3 cars. The Russian-born Canadian took advantage of a decent slot on the grid as Saturday’s race began. Faced with tricky conditions that varied around the track, he kept his cool on damp tarmac while still on slicks, moving up one position during the early stages.
37-year-old Frenchman Perera took over the car after almost an hour for his stints and made excellent use of the car’s strong race pace. At the wheel of the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO, he posted the fastest race lap in the GTD class and secured the third Fastest Lap in this year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for the GRT Grasser Racing Team. He was in the lead for a time but was bumped back down the field when the pace car was called out. However, he ensured a solid result in the Top Ten by finishing ninth.
Franck Perera: “The weekend in Virginia was very positive. Our car ran amazingly well and Misha made excellent progress. We definitely had the speed to finish on the podium. I was very pleased with my stint. Unfortunately, our strategy was affected when the race was neutralised while in the lead, which was a shame, but still, a top-ten result has got to be good and I was very pleased with my fastest lap. We will push hard and attack again in the finale at Road Atlanta.”
No conciliatory end to GTWC season for team’s three-strong crew
Back in Europe, GRT Grasser Racing were tackling the final battle in the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup as the GT3 elite went head-to-head. A 46-car strong field contested the finale of this top-class endurance series in Spain. Pre-qualification went really well after preparations in the practice sessions with 15th place for the #16 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO.
Galbiati, Schmid and Zimmermann qualified ninth in the Silver Cup during the three-part quali, and the three-hour race was hotly contested right from the start. Galbiati had to use the run-off area in the battle for positions on the opening lap over the 4.65-kilometre Formula 1 circuit near Barcelona and subsequently received a penalty for exceeding track limits, which dropped the team down the field.
However, the Italian and his two team mates were able to recover from their setback as the race progressed, and Schmid had moved up into eighth position in the Silver Cup by the closing stages when bad luck struck. A technical problem stopped the Austrian with less than ten minutes remaining on the clock. He had no choice but to head for the pits and retire the car, bringing their season in the GTWC Endurance Cup to an end without the desired result.
Clemens Schmid: “Our pace was pretty good, just like at the Nürburgring. The team did an excellent job again all weekend. We were really pleased with qualifying, but of course, there are always one or two small things that you can improve. Our car was very fast in the race. Kikko’s penalty was unfortunate, but apart from that, things were going well until shortly before the end. Having to retire was very disappointing, because we all wanted to see the season end on a high.”
Tim Zimmermann: “The weekend was pretty good actually. We felt comfortable in practice and were on the pace right from the start. It’s really annoying to have had a DNF. This year has been anything but easy, for sure, and I’m real sorry to see the team being hit by bad luck again in the final round. We’ll have to put it behind us. There are still two more race weekends in the ADAC GT Masters to come and we will do all we can to end the year with a decent set of results.”
Team Principal Gottfried Grasser: “We had obviously hoped for better outcomes this weekend, but the bottom line is still positive overall. Our pace in the IMSA was really good. We had to take huge risks with strategy in view of our position on the starting grid. We went all in and needed the race to be neutralised again to stay ahead. We just had to try something different to what our rivals were doing, but it didn’t quite work out. The car ran extremely well, for sure, as Franck’s fastest lap showed. We’re now really looking forward to Petit Le Mans. It’s a fantastic race, with which to end the season and we intend to do all we can again to achieve top-class results. On the other side we did well overall in the GTWC. The penalty was a bit annoying, but the guys did a good job subsequently. Unfortunately, a fuel supply problem stopped us in our tracks just before the end, which was a real shame, but we’ve had a good showing in this season’s Silver Cup in spite of everything. We’re now looking forward to the ADAC GT Masters at Hockenheim where we intend to mount a full-scale attack!”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing