Michimi Takes Title; Ferrucci Completes Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America Weekend Sweep at COTA
Shinya Michimi clinched the Pro Driver Championship, while Santino Ferrucci picked up his second win in two days to sweep the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America races at Circuit of the Americas.
Ferrucci took the Round 10 checkered flag in the No. 77 Courtney Racing entry representing Lamborghini Broward 6.977 seconds ahead of Michimi to sweep the final event this season on North American soil.
But the second-place finish by Michimi secured his title as the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America Pro Driver Champion and Prestige Performance as Team Champions.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Michimi said. “I’m a bit speechless, like I was with my first win. I’ve just got to thank everybody in the team, everybody who has helped me out during my career. My family, all of my sponsors. They stuck with me through all the year, so I really want to thank them for all that.
“I think I’ve put together some really good times, as well, so I’m really happy we’ve been able to put something together. I lost my grandfather two years ago to cancer, and he was a drag racer. He was a lot of my inspiration. He used to tell me stories about what he did as a child and everything, so I’m dedicating this whole year to him.”
The teams will head to Valencia, Spain, for the final two rounds of the championship Dec. 1-2 to decide the remaining titles followed by the World Finals on Dec. 3-4.
A combination of quick racing and good pit strategy helped Ferrucci capitalize in a competitive race.
Haas F1 development driver Ferrucci started from pole, but Cedric Sbirrazzuoli and Michimi in the No. 1 Prestige Performance entry representing Lamborghini Paramus got a good jump at the line. Sbirrazzuoli took the lead in the No. 07 Dream Racing Motorsports entry representing Lamborghini Las Vegas on the front straight, and Michimi fell into second position after an outside move in Turn 1.
“That was one hell of a race,” Ferrucci said. “That start was a bit of a mess for me. I’m not used to rolling starts, so I got hosed. Fair enough.”
Two separate incidents caused a full-course caution on the first lap. The field went back to green with 36 minutes remaining in the 50-minute race. The running order didn’t change on the restart, and Sbirrazzuoli started to pull a gap on the field.
At the mandatory pit window, Michimi and Ferrucci pitted almost immediately as Sbirrazzuoli continued in hopes of gaining a larger advantage before handing the car to co-driver Larry DeGeorge.
Ferrucci was in the fourth pit stall, Michimi in the eighth. Michimi left his pit stall and almost immediately Ferrucci darted out of his, slowing slightly to ensure he met his minimum pit time. Ferrucci narrowly made it in front of Michimi, and the two left pit lane nose to tail.
“The pit stop was brilliant,” Ferrucci said. “Once again, we were able to undercut Michimi there. I’ve got to thank the team for that. The timing was perfect.”
Michimi tried to squeeze to the inside going into Turn 2, but Ferrucci shut the door. Much like Thursday, the two moved in unison over the next few laps around the 20-turn, 3.427-mile circuit in the heart of Texas.
Behind that dueling duo, Richard Antinucci, who had taken over the No. 17 US RaceTronics entry representing Lamborghini Beverly Hills from co-driver Brian Thienes, made quick work of Derek DeBoer in third position.
Antinucci overtook Michimi to settle into second position with 13 minutes remaining and set his sights on Ferrucci. The gap was .991 of a second with 10 minutes to go. Five minutes later, it was 1.243 seconds.
Over the closing laps, Antinucci pushed to close the gap to the leader, but Ferrucci held on for the win.
“Richard Antinucci was coming up on me, and I was like: ‘All right. This is going to be a really tough race,’” Ferrucci said. “I was just able to keep him right behind me and manage the gap, which was really, really hard. Overall, I’m really happy with that.”
Antinucci crossed the finish line second but a post-race enforced penalty for a short pit stop dropped him and Thienes to third place overall. They were the top Pro-Am finishing entry.
Former standout National Hockey League defenseman Patrice Brisebois earned his first career victory in the Amateur class and placed fourth overall in the No. 24 DAC Motorsports entry representing Lamborghini Palm Beach.
Luis Rodriguez Jr. rounded out the top five and earned a second-place Amateur finish in the No. 29 Change Racing entry representing Lamborghini Carolinas. The result closed Rodriguez’s championship gap to 13 points behind Damon Ockey, who leads, 117-104, with two rounds to go.
Rodriguez’s Change Racing teammate Josh Norman was sixth overall and third in the Amateur class in the No. 71 entry representing Lamborghini Carolinas.
Enrique Bernoldi and Jeff Burton earned their second podium position of the weekend, finishing second in the Pro-Am class in the No. 12 DXDT Racing entry representing Lamborghini Dallas.
Joining them on the Pro-Am podium was Victor Gonzalez Jr. in the No. 16 Change Racing machine representing Lamborghini Carolinas. Gonzalez earned two podium finishes this weekend in his season debut.
Will James earned his first career win in the No. 11 eXclaim Racing/Migliore Motorsports entry representing Lamborghini Paramus in the Lamborghini Cup class. The victory snapped a nine-race winning streak this season by Ross Chouest, who had won every round in 2016 before today.
Shawn Lawless was second in class in the No. 27 Dream Racing Motorsports entry representing Lamborghini Las Vegas. Jackie Heinricher rounded out the podium with a third-place finish in the No. 57 DAC Motorsports entry representing Lamborghini Palm Beach.
The two rounds of racing at Circuit of the Americas are part of the worldwide Super Trofeo action this weekend. Super Trofeo Europe has two races at Nürburgring in Nürburg, Germany, and Super Trofeo Asia has two races at Fuji Speedway in Oyama, Japan.
Lamborghini and Blancpain provided world-class hospitality this weekend for clients and guests of Lamborghini dealers. Guests also participated in the IMSA Hot Lap Experience, high-speed rides around the circuit in a Lamborghini.
SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 77 Lamborghini Broward, winner): “That was one hell of a race. That start was a bit of a mess for me. I’m not used to rolling starts, so I got hosed. Fair enough. The pit stop was brilliant. Once again, we were able to undercut Michimi there. I’ve got to thank the team for that. The timing was perfect. Richard Antinucci was coming up on me, and I was like: ‘All right. This is going to be a really tough race.’ I was just able to keep him right behind me and manage the gap, which was really, really hard. Overall, I’m really happy with that. The team did a great job. It’s great to come here and have a double win. It feels great to go home like that.”
SHINYA MICHIMI (No. 1 Lamborghini Paramus, 2016 Pro series champion): “I really don’t know what to say. I’m a bit speechless, like I was with my first win. I’ve just got to thank everybody in the team, everybody who has helped me out during my career. My family, all of my sponsors. They stuck with me through all the year, so I really want to thank them for all that. It was good fun out there yesterday. We had a really good battle. Unfortunately, I just started going really downhill with my health, and I couldn’t keep up with them at the end. It’s been a great year. We’ve had a really great car all year. I think I’ve put together some really good times, as well, so I’m really happy we’ve been able to put something together. I lost my grandfather two years ago to cancer, and he was a drag racer. He was a lot of my inspiration. He used to tell me stories about what he did as a child and everything, so I’m dedicating this whole year to him.”
RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 17 Lamborghini Beverly Hills, winner, Pro-Am): “It was less physical, but I’ve got to hand it to my teammate, Brian (Thienes). He did an awesome job. He has progressed so much over this weekend. He was running top five. That’s what we have to thank him for. I managed to come out and have clear track position. Unfortunately, No. 33 (Emmanuel Anassis) made contact with him, but it ended up being nothing. It was something Brian couldn’t avoid, but it did damage our front suspension.” (About pressure on Ferrucci): “With the suspension damage – that was the point. Otherwise, I think we could have been there. Brian and I did a great job. I love this team. We had a great year. I’m going to miss these guys. Good luck in Valencia.”
BRIAN THIENES (No. 17 Lamborghini Beverly Hills, winner, Pro-Am): (About less heat today): “It helped a little bit. I think we missed the setup a little bit last night. We could have maybe made a little bit better adjustments for the weather, but the car was pretty good overall, with a little understeer. It was difficult for Richie (Antinucci) to handle. His ability to handle the car in the condition that I left it in shows his talent. Otherwise, US RaceTronics did a great job, as usual. I think they’re the best team in the paddock by a long shot.”
PATRICE BRISEBOIS (No. 24 Lamborghini Palm Beach, winner, Amateur): “First win! To be honest, I didn’t expect it. But you’re always thinking about the win. Lap after lap, I was focusing. I had a great start, and that really helped. After that, I was just focused on doing good laps. Focused on braking zones, apex, lap after lap after lap. It’s a big win. I’m very pleased, very, very happy. Thanks to the team, DAC Motorsports. My mechanics gave me a great, great car. It’s a nice way to finish the season with a win. Hopefully that will carry on for next season.” (It’s not the Stanley Cup, but how does the sense of satisfaction of this win compare to winning the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993?): “It’s only a win. To compare to a Stanley Cup, I will need to win a championship. But that’s going to be the next step next year. This is my first year with these cars. It’s a great, great machine. I need to get used to it. At the end, I was feeling more comfortable lap after lap.”
WILL JAMES (No. 11 Lamborghini Paramus, winner, Lamborghini Cup): “It was a great team effort, and I was proud to get a chance to be up here (on the podium). The team just kept cheering me on and reminding me to hit the marks. The car held up really well, and it was awesome. We are very fortunate. I can’t believe I actually got to win at COTA. It’s an awesome experience and a lot of fun. The team takes great care of me.”
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Founded in 1963, Automobili Lamborghini is headquartered in Sant’Agata Bolognese, in Northeastern Italy. The Lamborghini Huracán LP 610-4, which made its world debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, is the successor to the iconic Gallardo and redefines the luxury super sports car driving experience with its innovative technology and outstanding performance. The Aventador LP 700-4, in Coupé and Roadster offerings, represents the reference point in the world of V12-powered, luxury super sports cars. With 129 dealerships worldwide, in half a century Lamborghini has created an uninterrupted series of extraordinary, exclusive cars that include the 350 GT, Miura, Espada, Countach, Diablo, Murciélago, and several limited series like the Reventón, Sesto Elemento and Aventador J. The Veneno Coupé, the Egoista and the Veneno Roadster, were created to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary year in 2013.