DANVILLE, Va. -- There were many variables as Round 7 of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America started at VIRginia International Raceway Saturday.
The weather was a big pre-race question as clouds and periods of rain replaced the sun and heat of the previous day and a half. The drivers and teams got their answer about 15 minutes before the race started as a light rain quickly turned into more of a sustained shower. The race was declared “wet” and the teams changed tires before the green flag dropped for the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracan Evos.
The co-drivers of the No. 71 P1 Motorsports, Lamborghini Broward, JC Perez and Loris Spinelli came into Round 7 looking like the favorites.
The PRO-AM Class team was the fastest in both practice sessions Friday and then claimed the pole for the race earlier in the day before taking the green flag as they led the field to speed with sprays of water trailing each car.
Spinelli opened a nearly six second lead 10 minutes into the race before he spun in Turn 4 and that gave Trent Hindman (No. 1 Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus) the opportunity close that gap. The two cars battled with Hindman taking the lead on the Lap No. 10 as both were adding almost three seconds per lap to their cumulative lead.
The No. 71 was the first to take advantage of the pits being open as they stopped with 28 minutes remaining and on the next lap, the No. 1 came in, so it appeared it was going to be a battle between JC Perez and Jonathan Cecotto. An issue developed with the No. 1 in the pits and the car fell off the pace after that.
As luck would have it, the sun came back out during the pit window and the track quickly started to dry out and the speeds of these machines started rise.
When the pit window closed with 20 minutes remaining, Perez was back in front of the entire field with Taylor Proto in the No. 50 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills close on his bumper.
Proto took advantage when he and Perez ran into traffic to make a daring inside move to power into the lead in the track’s famous esses with nine minutes remaining and went on to take the PRO Class and overall victory.
The win for Proto and co-driver Edoardo Piscopo was the second consecutive for the team and the third in the last five races. The victory broke their tie with Madison Snow and Corey Lewis (No. 29 Change Racing, Lamborghini Charlotte) at the top of the standings and they head into Sunday’s race in first place.
While it was not the overall victory for Perez and Spinelli they were looking for, the drivers won for the fifth time in seven races in the PRO-AM Class and will have another chance for that win Sunday.
In the AM Class, several cars held the lead during the 50-minute action-packed race. When the checkered flag flew it was the No. 17 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills machine of Brian Thienes finishing first. It was the first victory of the year for Thienes and his team.
The LB Cup Class had a dramatic back and forth early in the race as Sheena Monk (No.7, Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus) and Justin Price (No. 21 Dream Racing Motorsport, Lamborghini Atlanta) shared the lead at different points in the first 10 minutes.
Parris Mullins, took over for Mark Proto after their pit stop, in the No. 88 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini La Jolla, and he took over the lead with about 10 minutes left in the race in the LB Cup Class. He decided to play it safe and used a late move to bring home the victory. The team has been first in class the entire season and the win was the fourth of the season for the duo. However, it was their first in four races.
A moment of silence was held prior to the race for the victims and those who were injured in the tragic Genoa bridge collapse of earlier this week.
The Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America weekend concludes tomorrow with Round 8 of the 2018 season. The race begins at 10:25 a.m. EDT from VIRginia International Raceway and it can be streamed on IMSA.TV and squadracorse.lamborghini.com/super-trofeo/north-america.
Taylor Proto – No. 50 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills
“I’m happy for the effort the team did. They gave us an absolute rocket ship of a car at Road America and they didn’t fail to deliver again here. These were tough conditions and my co-driver did an amazing job of keeping the car on the track. We are in a good position now to continue on in the second half of the season. We had an amazing pit stop that was nice and quick.”
“I saw the traffic coming up and maybe he (JC Perez) would have a compromised run in and I would be able to catch him at some point. As the road widened up, I saw just enough space to get past his quarter panel and I went right up the inside of the track and pushed into the esses.”
Edoardo Piscopo - No. 50 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills
“It was tricky because it was easy to make a mistake. Our goal was to keep the car in one piece and hand it off to Taylor (Proto). We were hoping the track dried out. It was a gamble that paid off.”
Loris Spinelli - No. 71 P1 Motorsports, Lamborghini Broward
“Today was really crazy. We started in the rain and this was the first day we had driven the car in those conditions. Our start was really good. I had a mistake in Turn 4, but it was OK, and I tried to keep the position and save the tires. But I had a car behind me that was faster. My team P1 Motorsports did a good job today. I’m happy and we will come back tomorrow trying to win the race.”
Brian Thienes - No. 17 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills
“It’s great to get our first win of the season. Great to be at the top of the podium for the first time. Great driving out there by everybody else out there. I started fourth and had to work my way up to the front and there was a lot of good, clean driving. US RaceTronics did an awesome job with the car. In the pit stop, we changed tires and the team did that quickly. I thank them for their effort. I have never been at this track in the rain. It was difficult to find the rain line in the race so that was difficult to drive the car for the first time in the rain.”
Parris Mullins - No. 88 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini La Jolla
“It was a surprise win. We have been struggling all week. We didn’t come out here and practice and we thought the data we had from the year before would be enough. I didn’t find my old pace from last year until qualifying. And we knew it was going to be somewhat up in the air with the weather and it could have gone any which way. Mark (Proto) did the first stint and did a great job of racing in the rain. He hung in there and our opponents were just duking it out and made some mistakes where we could close the gap. As soon as I got in the car, I had slicks and I just charged. It’s funny, I just hung out for a while because I didn’t want to pass someone else in another class because they were on wets and everybody was kind of all over the place. I just hung back, and my coach was on the radio telling me to play it safe and that was great strategy. The team gave us a great car and looking forward to tomorrow.”