As the sun rose over the Italian countryside on a recent Sunday morning, the stage was set to crown four Lamborghini Super Trofeo world champions at the 2.538-mile, 15-turn Vallelunga circuit.
The North American teams entered the day in position to return to the States with the lion’s share of the championship trophies after winning three of the four races on Saturday.
When the final checkered flag fell on the weekend the North American teams would stand at the top step of two of the four World Final podiums.
Ryan Hardwick won the Am class World Final title in the first race of the day and then JC Perez and Loris Spinelli (the No. 171 is shown above right) followed suit with a dramatic victory in the Pro-Am class.
Pro / Pro-AM Recap
JC Perez and Loris Spinelli in the No. 171 P1 Motorsports, Lamborghini Broward were the team to beat all season in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American Pro-Am class and they turned in the same performance over the weekend as they claimed the World Final Pro-Am championship.
Their assault on the World Final title didn’t come without drama as contact in the middle of the pack as cars crossed the start/finish line to begin the race caused the safety car to be called onto the track immediately. Cars were forced to head into the pits and unfortunately Perez was driving one of two of the North American Huracan Evo’s were involved.
When the safety car left the track nearly 10 minutes later, Perez found himself in 22nd place but he maintained his pace for the remainder of his stint before turning the car over to Spinelli as the pit window opened.
Spinelli returned the car to the track well down the field, but as he has done all season, quickly returned the car to being one of the fastest on the track. He continued to move up the field.
As the race progressed to its conclusion, it was announced another car in the Pro-Am field was going to be assessed a 20 second post-race penalty for its involvement in the melee at the start. Spinelli had finished fourth in the class on the track, but that penalty moved them to third and hence gave them a one-point victory for the World Final title over Lorenzo Bontempelli and Emanuele Zonzini from Iron Lynx Racing in Euorpe.
“I don’t have any words for what happened today,” said Spinelli following the race. “It is a dream to win this championship and the North American championship and it came true today. I want to thank my mate, JC, and my family!”
“I don’t know how we were driving that car today as it was hard to drive,” said Perez. “We were just sending it in and figuring out how to get it out of the corners. I want to thank my wife and my family as I wouldn’t be here without them.”
The other North American entry involved in that incident at the beginning was the No. 169 Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus entry of Alex Popow and William Hubbell. Unfortunately, that left them down the field and they finished three laps behind the leaders.
In the Pro class, the No. 101 Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus entry came in early in the pit window as Jonathan Cecotto gave way to Trent Hindman. Hindman was able to move up the field as the final laps of the race took place and they were the top North American finisher in fourth.
Edoardo Piscopo and Taylor Proto (No. 150 Us RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills) finished 10th in class (17th overall) while the Change Racing, Lamborghini Charlotte entry driven by Madison Snow and Corey Lewis was next in line at 11th in class and 18th overall.
A pair of European teams won Sunday's races as Giacomo Altoe and David Zampieri won the Pro class race while Simon Larsson and Dennis Lind were victorious in the Pro-Am class.
Am/LB Cup Recap
The Am and LB Cup teams would take to the track first in the combined World Final event with North American Am driver Damon Ockey in the No. 109 US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Calgary leading the field to the green flag.
Right from the start of the race the Am championship was front and center as Race 1 winner Ryan Hardwick in the No. 102 Dream Racing, Lamborghini Atlanta would battle European series champion’s Florian Scholze and Manuel Lauck all the way to the checkered flag to take home his first Super Trofeo World Final championship trophy.
“It was an unforgettable weekend for me. Yesterday’s race was a good race, probably the best of my life and today’s race I knew exactly what I had to do,” said Hardwick. “I knew that the Dörr car just could not win. They had an advantage on us with the pit stop with two drivers. They get a three second advantage, so they were able to overtake me through the pit window, but, man my competitor from North America, Damon Ockey he drove one hell of a race today.
“He led from start to finish. We had a good battle in the first segment, but then in the second segment Damon got out front, and if it wasn’t for him, I was having a hard time trying to find my way past the Dörr car. Damon drove great and yeah; third place was enough with the little bit of qualifying time I had. It was good, and I am extremely happy and honored to be world champion.”
Ockey would set the pace for the first half of the race keeping a hard charging Hardwick at bay, while European champion Scholze, second in World Final points, quickly drove into third and looked forward to the mandatory pit stop window, where, by virtue of a three-second driver change time advantage, would theoretically hand the car over to co-driver Manuel Lauck and exit the pits ahead of the two North American contenders.
As the pit window opened with 30 minutes remaining in the event, Scholze dove to pit road, completed the driver change and Lauck returned to the track quickly setting the fastest lap of the race as Hardwick and Ockey pitted on the next two laps.
As the cycle for the Am class completed Ockey returned to the track to find Lauck right behind him and Hardwick giving chase as the three would run nose-to-tail for over a lap before the entire field was slowed by a Safety Car period for the No. 97 of European series competitor Van Deyzen.
A restart came with 13 minutes to go and Ockey would quickly begin to pull away from the rest of the field. The advantage would be short lived however, as a second Safety Car period would occur for another of the two European competitors colliding.
The final restart would come with four minutes to go, setting the stage for the final sprint to the finish.
As the green flag waved, Ockey again pulled out to a second gap over Lauck and Hardwick who would be content to hold the final step of the podium.
As the checkered flag fell it would be Damon Ockey to cross the line first and take the race victory despite a late charge from Lauck. Hardwick would cross the line in third placing him in a tie with Scholze and Lauck on World Final points but would be awarded the World Final championship by virtue of his combined qualifying times being a fraction better than that of the European contenders.
“It was a great race,” said Ockey following the race 2 victory. “I think we all had the same pace, I was just able to hold them off. We were faster in different sectors, I was faster in the first two sectors, they seemed to be a little quicker in the last two, but it was a fun race. Great to be here at the track. The team had the car set up perfect for today, so I am glad to win the race”
For all that went right for the Dream Racing Am driver Hardwick, his teammate running in the LB Cup class was not as fortunate.
Trouble befell the North American LB Cup World Final leader Justin Price and his No. 121 Dream Racing, Lamborghini Atlanta early in the event despite a promising third place starting position.
On the start, Price would fall back to forth and then a spin just before the pit window opened at the 30-minute mark would all but end his hopes of bringing the LB Cup World Final Championship back to the States.
Brett Meredith in the No. 166 P1 Motorsports, Lamborghini Newport Beach, who was leading Saturday’s World Final race 1 until the final minute, would again show quick pace and lead the field at the checkered flag. However, a 30 second time penalty for incorrect time spent on pit road would result in a 6th place class finish and handing the race and championship victory to European Joseph Collado.