With the global GT3 landscape filled with manufacturer-prepped cars featuring long and distinguished bloodlines, the unexpected – and unexplained – popularity of Lamborghini’s Huracán GT3 among entrants in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has been quite a surprise.
Despite the V10-powered bull showing well in Europe this year, the Italian machine has yet to turn a wheel in competition stateside. And with so many other GT3 products to consider from other marques, why would a leading team like Paul Miller Racing switch from its race-winning Audi R8 LMS to a Huracán GT3? Konrad Motorsport – another veteran sports car team – has also opted-in with Lamborghini. Pile O’Gara Motorsport and Change Racing onto the list of incoming Huracán GT3 runners, and it’s a puzzling proposition to explore.
Is it free cars? Or maybe suitcases full of Euros?
“I have no idea why the Lamborghini has become so popular because I think every team is looking at the car with different expectations,” said defending GT Daytona champion Townsend Bell (LEFT), who is tipped to pilot a Huracán GT3 for O’Gara next year. “I was shocked when Paul Miller Racing announced they were moving to the Huracán simply because they were so successful with the Audi and they seemed to have a strong relationship with Audi; they’re also Audi dealers. I don’t think anyone saw them coming.”
The popular wisdom behind choosing a successful racecar is to go with one that has a proven pedigree whenever possible. Although the GT3 Lambo is a newcomer to North America, Bell thinks the Huracán’s solid outings in Europe this year could be a source of interest.
“You would think they must be super aggressive on getting their cars out there, but if you step back and look at the playing field next year, you’ll have a brand-new BMW, a brand-new Porsche, a brand-new Ferrari turbo, a brand-new Audi, potentially you’ll have a Mercedes that’s brand-new, and with the biggest race of our season starting out the year, the new Lamborghini already has a full season of racing already under its belt in Europe,” he said.
“With the big Daytona race up front, I think from a hit-the-ground-running standpoint, you have to give that some consideration why the Huracán has found so many homes already in IMSA.”
Paul Miller Racing team manager Mitchell Simmons has a few other ideas why Lamborghini has signed so many customers heading into 2016.
“Mr. Miller and I spoke at length about what we wanted to do, and spoke with Audi early in the year about their new car, and it’s not that we were displeased with Audi, but you talk with other manufacturers to see what they have to offer,” he said.
“With Audi, we told them what we were looking for in terms of manufacturer support, and they had given us some indication we might be able to increase things for next year. We went back and forth for months on it and everyone tried really hard to make it happen. We happened to meet with Lamborghini and essentially asked for the same kind of support, they came right back with a yes, and said they wanted to do a three-year deal! It was very easy, they were very eager, and the [Huracán] shares the same DNA as the R8, so that pushed things over the edge.”
Increased support – either financial or through access to technical resources – is of particular interest to any team, and Simmons’ last note is another definite reason behind why the Huracán GT3 has taken off in IMSA. As a sub-brand owned by Audi, Lamborghini and the German marque have done a fair amount of technology sharing, and in basic terms, the Huracán GT3 is built around on some of the R8’s proven assets. Despite its new-car stature, PMR is welcoming a Lamborghini that feels rather familiar after leading Audi’s R8 charge in IMSA.
“It gave us a lot of trust the car was going to be done properly and would be competitive from Day 1,” Simmons continued. “I haven’t seen it, but I’m told both cars share a homologation document, and we went in with full confidence about the quality of the Lamborghini with its shared history.”
The final point raised by Simmons speaks to the needs of a customer team racing among highly competitive GT3 offerings from a dozen or more manufacturers. Asked if they considered returning to Porsche – a PMR staple for decades, Simmons says Lamborghini’s boutique approach to GT3 racing was another major attraction.
“Mr. Miller has a Porsche dealership and an Audi dealership, and we looked at both cars and some of the other models, but we looked at what we were specifically trying to achieve in GT3, and with some of the bigger brands, GT3 racing is but one of many things they do,” he remarked.
“If you look at some of the big LMP1 programs, the big GT Le Mans or GTE programs, and the heavy marketing and technology investments there, it makes a brand like Lamborghini, whose highest form of racing is GT3, really stand out. GT3 is their highest level of racing, and they put a lot of emphasis on GT3 as their top tier. They aren’t looking to LMP1 or F1 as their claim to fame, and you can see it in how much they’re investing to be successful in GT3.”
Thanks to its experience on the European GT3 trail (BELOW: BLancpain GT Series, image courtesy Olivier Beroud/Vision Sport Agency), the anticipation of a heightened level of preparedness to last the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the increased levels of support for its teams, some of the proven technology found beneath the bodywork, and the brand’s dedication to GT3, Lamborghini is already making big waves in IMSA.
Come January in Florida, we’ll learn whether they can topple the establishment when IMSA unveils its all-GT3 GT Daytona class.