HINDMAN: Valencia Debrief

What a sweet end to a pretty amazing season! I think that is the best way to describe Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America in 2016 that both Craig and I had experienced this year.

It was a new category for us both and the learning curve was immense, but I am very proud to say that Prestige Performance, Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus, Craig Duerson and I were able to lock up a Pro-Am championship title in our first attempt.

It certainly did not go without a fight… that’s for sure.

Still reminiscing on what could have been done in COTA, I feel that the disappointment of not getting the Pro-Am title locked up in September was what really lit the fire in the whole Prestige Performance team.

Losing our brakes in Race 2 at Watkins Glen, power steering issues at Road America, and finally getting taken out on Lap 1 by another competitor at COTA saw us scrapping for this title for much longer than we would have liked.

Ultimately, we had a lot of confidence in our Prestige Performance/WTR team and going into Valencia we knew that the pressure on us would only motivate the entire team further.

From the time we arrived on Monday, Nov. 27th, all focus was on winning a second driver’s championship for Prestige in 2016.

On my flight to Spain, I dreamt of beautiful sunny skies and decent temperatures but in reality we had the exact opposite for almost the entire week at Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

Nonetheless it was a massive relief to open up each shipping container, packed and shipped almost two months prior to this event, and find that our cars and equipment had made it overseas safely.

The unloading process was extremely quick and we soon found out that there were another two full days of waiting until we finally would hit the track – a very excruciating experience!

Having the opportunity to walk the track on Wednesday afternoon, I quickly realized that although this place was much different compared to what we are used to here in North America, Circuit Ricardo Tormo would become one of my favorites.

Packed quite cleverly in a relatively small area, the 2.48-mile circuit has a fantastic mix of high and low speed corners, useable curbing, a smooth surface, and camber… oh the camber!

For a racetrack that does not follow the natural terrain of the land it sits on, it proved to have a wonderful feel and rhythm to it, or at least I thought it did.

Testing was, well, testing to say the least. Between the constant changing weather and some strange issues with the car, we lost some quality track time on Thursday; the absolute last thing we needed going to a track and environment that we have never experienced before.

Luckily we did show some speed which was promising, but making that speed last for an entire 50-minute race is always a whole other challenge.

Our qualifying runs for our two North American Championship finale races on Friday were not our best, but with our focus solely set on winning a championship, we did exactly what we needed to do.

Since our approach for our final two races was conservative, I was pushing hard to use these races as test sessions, if you will, to continue making changes and improving our car for the two World Final races on Saturday and Sunday.

Aside from a few close calls and some nail biting, by the end of the day on Friday our initial goal for the season was accomplished and the Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing team were now Super Trofeo North America Pro, Pro-Am, driver’s, team, and dealership champions!

This was an accomplishment that was much deserved by every single member of this team, as we all worked very hard to make this a reality from day one.

The high of winning a championship did not last long as we now had to prove ourselves against the rest of the world.

Seeing the pace that was being set by the European Pro and Pro-Am teams, I knew that much work had to be done in order for us to even have a chance of competing with those guys.

In comparison to the rest of the North American and Asian series contenders, Craig and I were very strong, but unfortunately there wasn’t much comparison to the European Pro/Pro-Am leaders. We were gearing up for a tough fight.

I have been lucky to spend some time competing in Europe throughout these last few years, and at the start of race one I figured we would encounter some carnage on the first lap being that we were mid-pack.

Luckily we made it through cleanly and began to push our way forward from there. I’m not entirely too sure where we were when I handed the car off to Craig, but I knew it was far from where I would’ve liked to be and I just had to hope for the best.

Race 1 saw a hard-fought 15th place result, which none of us were thrilled about but we still had Sunday and one more race to redeem ourselves.

Waking up to pouring rain on Sunday morning had me thinking that this could potentially be a great thing for us. Craig has tons of experience racing in the wet at places such as Sebring and Mid-Ohio, which are incredibly difficult places to drive in the rain.

Some added confidence and a few changes overnight had all of us feeling that we could make a charge from the back of the pack and go back to the U.S. feeling that we made a good showing.

Unfortunately this was no Cinderella story and we finished Race 2 in 18th position. None of us were proud by any means, and it was an even tougher pill to swallow considering the effort and hard work put in by everybody on the Prestige Performance/WTR team.

I believe this was a necessary experience for all of us, as now we know just how much we need to find in order to be competitive on the world stage.

Nonetheless it was still an excellent weekend as we accomplished our initial goal of winning the Pro-Am title.

This was a scenario where as soon as you get out of the car, you immediately want to get back in and have another crack at it… one of those “if I knew then what I know now” sort of deals, but it is what it is.

It was an incredible learning experience for us all and I would absolutely love to find my way back to Lamborghini Super Trofeo in some way, shape, or form next year.

Super Trofeo is really a championship that is gaining tons of momentum and becoming more prestigious and difficult to win It is a challenge that I certainly do not want to walk away from just yet.

I would like to give one massive thank you to Mark, Chris, and all of the folks from the Prestige Family of Fine Automobiles for giving me the opportunity to drive such a beautiful beast all year long.

Also, a huge thank you to Wayne, Ricky, Jordan, Max, David, and the entire team from Wayne Taylor Racing. It’s no secret that long hours and hard work turns into luck in this industry. These guys and gals created that luck for Craig, Shinya, and me to be successful and bring home championships.

Finally, a big thank you to John Dagys and all of you who spent some time reading these debriefs all year long.

It’s been an absolute pleasure sharing my experiences, and I hope I will be reporting back to you all in 2017. See you in Daytona (hopefully)!

Michimi, Duerson, Hindman, Ockey, Chouest Celebrate Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America Titles at Valencia

  • Craig Duerson, Trent Hindman prevail by two points in tight Pro-Am title race.
  • Damon Ockey holds off Luis Rodriguez Jr. for Am championship.
  • North American Champion Chouest caps superb season with World Championship.

Sant’Agata Bolognese  (Dec. 5, 2016) –  Craig Duerson, Trent Hindman and Damon Ockey secured Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America season titles Dec. 1-2 in the final two rounds of the season at Valencia, Spain, joining Shinya Michimi and Ross Chouest as 2016 class champions.

Duerson and Hindman combined to finish second and third, respectively, in Rounds 11 and 12 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. That was enough to deliver the Pro-Am championship by just two points, 134-132, over Brandon Gdovic, who won both rounds at Valencia.

Ockey finished second and first, respectively, in the final two rounds to secure the Amateur championship, 144-131, over Luis Rodriguez Jr.

Michimi and Chouest clinched the Pro and Lamborghini Cup season championships after Rounds 9 and 10 in September at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Chouest capped his fantastic season by also winning the World Championship in the Lamborghini Cup class during the World Final on Dec. 3-4 at Valencia.

Prestige Performance already clinched the Team Championship in September at Circuit of the Americas.

Series veteran Antinucci dominated en route to victory in the No. 116 entry representing Lamborghini Carolinas in the final two 50-minute rounds of the North American series season at Valencia.

Antinucci drove to a 39.765-second over Pro-Am class winner Gdovic in the No. 146 entry representing Lamborghini Palm Beach in Round 11. Antinucci took the lead after the mid-race pit stops and never trailed thereafter.

Michimi overcame a late-race incident to climb from fifth to third, seizing the final overall spot on the podium and second in the Pro class in the No. 101 entry representing Lamborghini Paramus. Emmanuel Anassis rounded out the top three in the Pro class in the No. 118 entry representing Lamborghini Palm Beach.

Duerson and Hindman finished second in Pro-Am in the No. 110 entry representing Lamborghini Paramus. The team of Patrick Kujala and Brian Thienes placed third in the Pro-Am class in the No. 117 entry representing Lamborghini Beverly Hills. They led the race overall before the first pit stops.

Rodriguez won the Amateur class in Round 11 in the No. 129 entry representing Lamborghini Carolinas. Ockey finished second in the No. 109 entry representing Lamborghini Calgary.

Chouest returned to his winning ways by taking first place in the Lamborghini Cup class in the No. 103 entry representing Lamborghini Miami. Shawn Lawless was second in the No. 127 entry representing Lamborghini Las Vegas, followed by Jackie Heinricher in the No. 157 entry representing Lamborghini Palm Beach.

In Round 12, Antinucci never trailed other than during his mandatory pit stop and cruised to a 21.744-second victory over Michimi. The Asian series tandem of Toshiyuki Ochiai and Afiq Yazid finished third overall, as the North American and Asian series raced together on the 2.489-mile (4.005 km) circuit in their respective final two rounds at Valencia.

Gdovic completed his sweep of the Pro-Am class during the event and finished fourth overall, holding off a charge by Kujala and Thienes, who placed second in class and fifth overall. Hindman and Duerson ended up third in the Pro-Am class race, with a season championship secured.

Ockey closed his championship season with an Amateur class victory in Round 12, followed by Rodriguez.

Lawless edged Chouest for the win in Lamborghini Cup in Round 12, with Heinricher rounding out the class podium for the second straight race.

The two rounds of racing at were part of the worldwide Super Trofeo action this weekend at Valencia Super Trofeo Europe and Asia also each contested their final two rounds of the season before drivers from all three series competed in the World Final.

Lamborghini and Blancpain provided world-class hospitality at Valencia for clients and guests of Lamborghini dealers.

The 2017 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America season starts May 4-6 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The 2017 World Final is scheduled for Nov. 16-19 at Imola, Italy, where the final two rounds of the North American series also will take place.

 

POST-RACE QUOTES

 

SHINYA MICHIMI (No. 101 Lamborghini Paramus, 2016 Pro series champion): “I’ve really got to thank everyone at Prestige Performance. They’ve done a really good job. I’ve also got to thank IMSA for running the series. They’ve done a really good job with officiating. It was a dream season for me. I did all my karting in the United States, born and raised in the United States. When I switched the cars, I left for four years. My first year back, I get my first-ever championship. It’s been really nice to do it in my home country.”

 

CRAIG DUERSON (No. 110 Lamborghini Paramus, 2016 Pro-Am series champion): “I just have to thank Wayne Taylor Racing, Prestige Performance and the crew. This is a group effort. My co-driver, Trent. Shinya (Michimi) helped a lot with teaching us how to drive the car. It takes a whole team to pull this off. Even in adversity, we did a really good job of pulling together and collecting points. The goal was to win the championship. I’m honored to be a part of this and look forward to doing it again.”

TRENT HINDMAN (No. 110 Lamborghini Paramus, 2016 Pro-Am series champion): “Just a huge thank you to Prestige Performance. It was really a great season. We wish we could have made things a little bit less eventful here in Valencia. Wish we could have locked it up in COTA, but, hey, you can’t be greedy about it. We’re very proud and thankful for what we’ve done. It was pleasure working with Craig (Duerson) and Shinya (Michimi). I hope we can continue this.”

ROSS CHOUEST (No. 103 Lamborghini Miami, 2016 Lamborghini Cup series champion and World Champion): “I want to thank my team, DXDT Racing. They gave me a great car all season. My coach, Aaron Povoledo, really helped prepare me for every race this season. We had a really successful season. Thanks to my sponsors, family and friends who came out to support me in Valencia. It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing to get them to come to Spain, but it’s nice to have the support here.” (About 2017): “I’m looking forward to progressing and keep getting faster as a driver. I want to continue to get better each weekend. I look forward to stepping up and racing against better competition.”

All of all the races are available to watch on the official YouTube channel of Automobili Lamborghini, at http://www.youtube.com/lamborghini.

 

HINDMAN: COTA Debrief

Being the only FIA 1 track in the U.S., Circuit of The Americas will always be a special event on any series calendar.

With a very fast and flowing sector one and a third sector that has the feel of essentially a giant autocross, the drivers get to experience a bit of everything within 3.5 miles of tarmac.

This is a course that has a very technical style to it. Designed to show off the capabilities of a Formula 1 car, it is easy to feel slightly out of place at times in such a massive expanse of pavement (track limits, hooray!).

Austin itself is an amazing town but I’m certainly a bit more partial to spending quality time in the race car, at the race track. It’s truly a beautiful place, aside from the insane Texas heat of course! Minor detail I suppose…

Since our WEC brethren made their one and only American appearance this past weekend, quality track time was certainly at a minimum in both the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Championship and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

This was the perfect scenario to show off the quality of work and long hours spent back at both the Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing and Bodymotion Racing shops in preparation of the equipment.

If you did not roll off the trailer with a competitive package from the get-go, you were more than likely going to have a very, very difficult weekend playing catch up with no time to do so.

Luckily for Craig Duerson and me, the Prestige Performance/WTR crew did an amazing job re-prepping our Huracan Super Trofeo and we had absolutely no issues.

We had worked hard throughout testing and even through qualifying to find the right balance with our car, but at the end of the day we were a little bit tentative to change anything major just keeping in mind how much the track was going to change throughout the weekend.

Between the intense heat and number of cars laying down all different sorts of rubber, it was damn near impossible to predict exactly what was going to happen. All we knew was that it was going to be greasier than ever.

Race 1 was late Thursday evening and although temperatures had cooled down quite a lot, the track was still extremely slippery.

We had a good effort for 3rd place during qualifying and I wanted to be aggressive and get to the lead at the start, which we were able to do.

Our car was working brilliantly and a gap started to open up during those first few laps, then came the one and only full course yellow. Once you build some temperature and pressure in those Pirelli tires, you certainly do want to let that go, but in a case like this you just have no choice.

After the race went green again we still hung on to the lead but not by much. I really would have liked to give Craig some more breathing room coming into our pit stop but roughly a second was all I could manage after the yellow.

The Prestige Performance/WTR guys gave us a killer pitstop as usual and Craig came out of the box in third overall, first in the Pro-Am class, which is ultimately where we finished!

Friday was race day for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge as well as race number two of the weekend for Super Trofeo.

After finishing race one less than 12 hours prior, our second Trofeo race of the weekend was early in the morning and this time I would be closing out the race.

Our engineer David and I had made some solid progress on the car for race one and we had made a few more small changes for race two that Craig and I were really excited to try.

Unfortunately hopes for another overall podium and/or class win were dashed when Craig was hit by another driver at the apex of Turn 13. With that said, we were able to continue running, off the pace, but finish the full race distance and collect points to maintain our lead of the Pro-Am championship.

Titles are won not on the good or great days, but in the races that are the most difficult. It is so easy to throw your hands up and give in when you’re just driving around, laps down and off pace, but ultimately every single point matters.

I am very proud of Craig for continuing to push on, as well as the Prestige crew for their efforts in getting us across the line at the end of 50 minutes with a damaged race car.

Race 2 of the day was the hottest yet of the weekend but the Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport was really hooked up for Cameron Cassels and me, so we were excited to go after it and try to earn our fourth win of the season.

I know I say this every time I write to you, but Cam really put together his most solid stint yet and all of us at Bodymotion are extremely excited to see that kind of effort and performance coming along from him.

We had set the pace in practice one on Wednesday, so I knew that we had a very fast car in the hot, greasy conditions that we would see at the end of our two and a half hour event.

With no full course yellow to pack up the field in the final stint, we settled for a solid, but distant, second place finish. The Bodymotion Racing crew absolutely nailed our two pitstops and I for sure am super proud of everybody’s effort in the near unbearable heat.

Three unbelievably hot and hectic days were over in a heartbeat but I am definitely glad to have walked away with some additional hardware and two mostly intact race cars.

I would like to apologize to the poor souls who had to sit next to me on my flight back to Newark Liberty International for the horrible stench of stale champagne and sweaty race gear, but I suppose that is the smell of victory… or at the very least a successful weekend.

As always, a big thank you to Craig, Cameron, Joe Koenig and Trim-Tex, Bodymotion Racing, and Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing for every ounce of effort that went into our weekend.

Next up for us at Bodymotion is our season finale at Road Atlanta in about ten days time.

On the flip side, it’s going to be some time until Craig and I are back behind the wheel of our Huracan Super Trofeo at the Lamborghini World Final in early December.

HINDMAN: VIR Debrief

Every time we come to VIR, I always believe that we are in for one wild ride… I mean, just look at the place!

Seventeen very difficult corners ranging from technical, low grip, off camber, decreasing radius to absolutely balls-to-the-wall high speed climbing esses that, without any hesitation, could throw you into a place you really don’t want to be quite quickly.

I love this place for that very reason; yet another old school race track that follows the natural terrain, has lots of character and one hell of a story. Either way, this latest trip to VIR did not disappoint!

Arriving on Wednesday afternoon, it was interesting to see what changes had been made to the track since this most recent re-pave.

Nothing really stuck out to me too much aside from a few corners with sealer down already and the general idea in your head that the track was going to pick up grip throughout the weekend and hopefully not it’s own asphalt.

Fortunately having been to VIR many times before, I was confident in what could possibly be accomplished in our Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo as well as the Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

Promoter test days are far and few between these days but luckily we had the opportunity to test both cars all day on Thursday.

As track conditions will always change dramatically throughout the first two days of a race weekend, we didn’t focus on finding the ideal set-up with our cars right away.

Rather, our goal was to get re-acclimated to the track, get a feel for the new pavement, and at least get an idea of the tuning direction that we would like to follow for the official practice day on Friday.

Unfortunately, the No. 10 Prestige Performance Huracan Super Trofeo was experiencing some significant power steering issues which was solved later on in the day to get Craig some solid seat time in that beast.

Fortunately for us, Jordan Taylor decided to bless us with his presence in order to help us peasant Super Trofeo drivers out, although the WTR Corvette Daytona Prototype was not in attendance.

Jordan hasn’t driven the Huracan Super Trofeo too much, but his experience and ability to critique our driving just through observation was definitely a big help all throughout practice and qualifying.

Super Trofeo Race 1 fell directly in the middle of Saturday morning in the already blazing Virginia heat.

In terms of track conditions, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to us that our pace and the overall grip level remained relatively similar in the increased temperatures purely because of how new the surface of the road was.

After qualifying and starting third for race one, we ran in the third position throughout a first stint plagued by full course yellows until it was time for me to hand the car off to Craig.

In a solid stint, Craig held on to third overall until about 10 minutes to go when the raging bull saw red and decided we just had to do our best to bring it home in one piece.

Final result: fourth overall and third in class, really a very solid race for us considering that we had a few items with the car that needed to be addressed for race two.

Later on in that honestly disgusting Virginia humidity, Bodymotion Racing, Cameron Cassels, and myself were really gunning hard to get back up on the top step of the podium. We showed some really outstanding pace in practice and worked very hard on the car and ourselves as a team to give us the best possible shot at another win.

Well, after rolling off the grid in sixth and Cam getting one hell of a start, mother nature decided that us folks at VIR were having entirely too much fun on that nice new pavement and wanted to change it up a bit… or a lot for that matter.

Out of all of my years at racetracks around the United States of America, I have never, ever seen a storm pop out of nowhere like that with the same intensity as this one did in the CTSC race. Between all of the rain and the dangerously close lightning strikes, it’s really something that nobody was hurt or went off track in any sort of significant fashion.

That race saw an immediate red flag and we were parked not knowing what was going on for almost a full hour.

The storm had let up quite a bit by the time I got into the car and the race went green again. I absolutely love racing in the rain, especially when you’ve got a great car underneath you, so slowly chipping away at the gap between myself and the GS leaders was challenging yet really, really fun.

After moving into third, we caught the No. 15 GT350R-C right at the last lap and after doing everything I could to get around (including a few almost off track excursions), we had to settle for third.

With that said, Cameron and I were thrilled with the result considering how extreme the weather was and the fact that our Porsche was still in one piece.

Luckily Sunday was much cooler and the Prestige Performance/WTR crew had made some changes to our car that Craig and I were curious to feel out.

After starting eighth, Craig made a run up to fourth overall in another opening stint that saw significant time behind the safety car. Seeing our pace was much better than the day before, I was certainly ready to take the fight to the Pro-Am leaders.

Fortunately the great strategic calls by our team put us right into second place overall for the final 20 minutes of the race.

We had a great shot at trying to take home our second overall win of the year, but between another full course caution and a super fast Shinya Michimi, we again settled for another overall podium and win in the Pro-Am category.

I know, a bit long winded here but I’m always excited to share my take on these race weekends. A huge, huge thank you to both the Bodymotion Racing and Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing teams for all of their long hours and hard work in the miserable heat.

Also, a big thank you to Cameron Cassels and Craig Duerson for once again giving it all they had behind the wheel – I’m a lucky guy to be sharing race cars with both drivers.

Finally, a big thanks to our partners Cassels Racing, Trim-Tex Drywall Products, and the Prestige Family of Fine Cars for all of their support with these programs. See you all in COTA!

HINDMAN: Road America Debrief

Quite some time has passed since I last reported to you all, but it certainly was not for a lack of racing, that’s for sure!

Watkins Glen was the last event for the Blancpain Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America championship. Between then and now, there were two more races for the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge; Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock.

The Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport showed lots of speed in both of those races, but unfortunately we could not continue our winning ways. However, we netted solid 4th and 3rd place finishes, but we certainly are aiming for the top step of the podium every time we turn a lap.

This past weekend was my first time back in the Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo in about a month, and the first time Super Trofeo had ever visited Road America.

I must say, just the sheer sound of 20 screaming 5.2 liter V10s blasting down into turn one is quite spectacular to see and hear.

This weekend was shaping up to be the busiest yet for me personally. The schedule was packed and there were a fair amount of quick turn arounds between the CTSC and Super Trofeo sessions, so finding enough time to balance the two was difficult, but it’s definitely a nice problem to have.

Prior to Race 1 of Super Trofeo on Saturday evening, Cameron Cassels and I had our 2 hour 30-minute CTSC race. Although Cameron qualified (and made massive improvements in that short 15 minute run), we decided to make a big change to our strategy and have me start – first time I would start a CTSC race since Road Atlanta in 2014!

There were two cautions during that opening stint but we were still able to get out front and start pulling a gap. Finally on the third safety car period, we decided to take advantage and get Cam in the car for the middle stint.

In a race plagued by many laps behind the safety car, Cam managed to maintain solid track position throughout all of those restarts before handing the car back over to me for the final stint where we ultimately finished 5th.

Next on the schedule was race one of Super Trofeo. During testing and even through qualifying, Craig Duerson and I kept working on ourselves and the car to help close up our gap to the quickest guys.

We both want to not only win in the Pro-Am category, but we also want to be fighting for the overall win as well.

I qualified third for Race 1 and we were able to move up to second at the start going down into Turn 1. We were fighting some demons with our car all weekend, so I knew catching and passing the leader at that point was going to be high risk and one tall order.

All I wanted to do was keep him in my sights and not burn up the tires or car for Craig. Thanks to the Prestige Performance team, we had a fantastic pit stop that put Craig right out into the overall lead and he never looked back.

Unfortunately the race ended under yellow, but it was still a great feeling to know that we finally won overall due to great strategic calls and a fair bit of luck!

Race 2 proved to be much more of a fight but Craig did exactly what he needed to do in terms of keeping the car in one piece for our final push to the end.

We made up quite a lot of ground and caught the leader of the Pro-Am class with two laps remaining.

Unfortunately I just completely used up the car playing catch up and I was unable to attack and make a move for the lead.

Still, a great race because we brought home 2nd in class and 3rd overall – a great points day for us.

Massive thank you to my co-drivers, Craig and Cameron, along with the entire Prestige Performance/WTR and Bodymotion Racing teams for putting up with my constant disappearance!

Both crews gave us great race cars this weekend and I cannot ask for anything more.

We will be back at it for both championships in VIR coming up in two weeks time. I am looking forward to getting back on track and cleaning up some mistakes I had made this past weekend.

Can’t win em’ all but I’ll sure as hell try to!

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