Last weekend was the final competitive outing of the 2021 motorsport season for the Grasser Racing Team. One week after the last round of this year’s ADAC GT Masters at the Nürburgring in Germany, the Knittelfeld-based outfit were back in action with their Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO in the USA for the last time this year. The closing fixture of the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship was one of the great endurance classics, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Lamborghini factory drivers Franck Perera and Michele Beretta, together with sports car veteran Misha Goikhberg, gave it their all one last time until a no-fault accident put an early end to their chase for the podium.
Perera had ensured a good start to the race weekend on the historic 4.09km track in Braselton, Georgia, clocking the eighth-best time of FP1 in the fiercely contested GTD class. In the two following sessions, GRT’s American crew in the number 19 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO gradually upped their lap times, finishing seventh and then fifth. In qualifying, Goikhberg secured tenth on the grid, while Perera set the fifth fastest time in the professional classification.
The start of the prestigious ten-hour race went according to plan at 12:05 local time on Saturday, as Goikhberg proceeded to gain a number of positions on the opening lap. The Canadian of Russian heritage put in a flawless triple stint on the demanding circuit before handing over to Perera. The Frenchman continued to work his way up the field. After three hours, the GRT trio were already running third in the GTD classification.
However, their impressive charge was to be brought to a sudden end. Through no fault of his own, Beretta got caught up in a mass collision involving seven cars at around the four-hour mark in the restart after a pace car deployment. The Italian initially managed to steer clear of trouble but was then hit by traffic from behind. The extent of the damage was so great that the car had to be retired.
This disappointing result means that GRT now go into the winter break without having had the chance to finish the twelfth and final round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship on a high. The team’s record in the USA at the end of the season includes a podium at the Detroit Sprint and the best qualifying time at the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring. In addition, the squad set three fastest race laps at Watkins Glen, Lime Rock Park and Virginia International Raceway.
Misha Goikhberg: “Sadly, this ending was typical of a very difficult season. We had strong pace in the race, we were keeping clear of any trouble, and we were doing well. The accident was most regrettable and put a lot of cars out of action. Fortunately, Michele was not hurt. We had all been hoping for a more satisfactory finale. I would like to thank the entire Grasser Racing team as well as my team-mates and Lamborghini for the year. Everyone did a superb job.”
Team Principal Gottfried Grasser: “Unfortunately, we’ve been dogged by bad luck at the races in the USA this year. It was not the season we had imagined after our successes of recent years in the IMSA. Despite everything, I’m proud of our team’s performance. We always picked ourselves up again after every setback. Our car was consistently fast and the drivers were fully motivated. Fretting about the results we missed out on wouldn’t have helped us. I therefore want to say a big thank you to the entire team for their tremendous fighting spirit.”
Source. GRT Grasser Racing Team