For the last three years that IMSA has made the trip to Circuit of The Americas, it’s conveniently been right at the end of summer and the term “Texas hot” could not become any more applicable.
In 2015, for example, while driving the Fall-Line Motorsports BMW E92 M3 GS car, we experienced a race day which saw a high of 105 degrees ambient temperature.
Since that lovely, high revving, S65 V8 sits so low and so far back, with headers that run almost right underneath your feet, it did get quite warm in the cockpit. So hot, in fact, that the bottom of my left shoe heel was no longer attached to my shoe but instead to the floorboard on which it was resting.
I have photos to prove it! Luckily during this trip to COTA, we in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge had really beautiful weather to go racing, with no melting shoes…
With over a month since our last, character-building race at Sebring, Cameron Cassels, the Bodymotion Racing crew, and I needed to have a solid weekend in order to stay in the GS championship hunt. Fortunately for us, we did just that.
COTA has historically been good to me, finishing second in last year’s GS race with Cameron and even winning a crucial nail biter in 2014 with John Edwards.
I have to admit that I was feeling relatively confident, despite being advised that the Porsche may not be competitive at the super technical, 3.427-mile track.
Watching the MotoGP race from a few weeks prior, it appeared that track conditions had seemed to have deteriorated quite drastically compared to the years prior.
As we witnessed the changes first hand during Wednesday afternoon’s track walk, the asphalt itself seemed a lot more weathered compared to September 2016, but more importantly, feeling where significant bumps have developed in key areas of the track made setting up our car a little bit more challenging than normal.
Since our race “weekend” is only two days, it goes by blindingly fast, so during Thursday practice it is just that much more important to make the most of every single lap you are given.
For me, it’s all about getting our car dialed in for the long run as well as making sure Cameron gets enough time to re-acclimate himself to the track.
Small changes between practice one and two on Thursday lead to big gains in lap time heading into Friday’s race, so we were quite happy with the weapon we had brought to play with.
Cameron did his normal rock solid job in qualifying and the opening stint of the race, setting personal best laps along the way, which in turn is always confidence inspiring for me and the Bodymotion crew.
Again, knowing that our Cayman GT4 was not supposed to be the best car at this track, we knew that great pit stops and a modified strategy would be necessary in order to have a shot at victory.
A full course yellow right around the 45 minute mark was exactly what we needed, but now this turned into a fuel mileage race… which is always how it seems to go around COTA.
A fantastic stop by the Bodymotion crew and a great strategic call by engineer extraordinaire Marc Manning moved us up to P5 for the restart, although now it was a test of who could make it to the end of this two hour event with only one stop.
I was most definitely sweating this one out, because not only was it my job to push forward and try to make up positions, but now I also had to try and pass a handful of phenomenal drivers all while saving fuel. Sweet.
Fortunately some patience and a lot of luck put us in the lead… for roughly two corners, and the momentum lost by battling hard with Robin allowed both McLarens to scream on by.
We had great pace though the first half of the racetrack but once we got to the tight, point and shoot sort of corners that we find in sectors two and three around COTA, I just couldn’t get close enough to properly attack.
With about ten minutes to go in the race, our focus shifted back to simply making it to the finish without running out of fuel! Hectic fuel saving and quite the nerve-wracking last lap that felt like it would never end gave us a solid P3 finish.
Of course we are always thinking about how we could have gotten those final two positions for victory, but for now, we were pleased that we had simply survived with a better than expected result.
It was also very encouraging to hear that we would head to Watkins Glen as the GS championship leaders.
Immediately after finishing the GS race, it was a full on sprint back to the support paddock to change driving suits and get ready for Lamborghini Super Trofeo race one.
I know… I have zero right whatsoever to say anything negative about hopping out of one car and getting directly into another, especially when its a Porsche to a Lamborghini!
I would just briefly like to mention that I am very thankful to be back in Super Trofeo this season with the Prestige Performance/Wayne Taylor Racing team that I had been so fortunate to have success with last year.
Our weekend went quite well over there, as my new co-driver Riccardo Agostini and I brought home a pair of second place finishes in the Pro category.
After almost three straight weeks on the road concluding with an incredibly busy yet successful three days in Austin, it’s nice to be home for a few days.
As always, a big thank you to Cameron and the Bodymotion Racing team, along with the Prestige Performance crew for their efforts towards some solid results this past weekend.
The Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 had a new look this weekend thanks to Joe Koenig and all of my friends at Trim-Tex! Looking forward to sharing much success together with them as we did just a few years ago.
Hopefully Cam and I will do as John and I did in 2014, grab hold of this GS championship lead and never look back! On to Watkins Glen..
IMSA Spotlight: Trent Hindman
Driver: No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport
How anxious to get back in the car are you after the long layoff after Sebring?
“Very. Not sure if anxious is necessarily the word though, I think in this scenario it’s more of a motivation to go racing again following a difficult race weekend such as Sebring. Looking for redemption possibly?
“The time certainly passes quickly though, especially because we have been very busy at Bodymotion Racing preparing for next week’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Circuit of The Americas.
“For us it is really just a matter of going out and proving to ourselves that no matter what adversity comes our way, we will still find a way to win.”
How much do you and your co-driver Cameron Cassels stay in contact during the time between races?
“It’s constant communication. Cam is a guy who is incredibly motivated to improve his craft behind the wheel of our Cayman GT4, or of course any car he drives for that matter, so we will always be comparing notes prior to arriving to the track.
“It’s definitely a very eye opening experience for me to be a part of his development as a driver because I too learn a lot about myself in the process. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
In your recent column for Sportscar365, you mentioned that you and Cameron were still new to the team at this time last year. How much has the year of chemistry that you have developed helped this year?
“Although at this point last year Cameron and I were new to working together alongside Bodymotion Racing, it’s pretty safe to say that we were all on the same page right away despite the inexperience.
“Chemistry when working with a group of people is not something that can be created artificially. Funny enough, I was already very close to everybody over at Bodymotion since the shop is roughly five minutes away from where I’ve lived all my life.
“For a while at the end of 2013 and all throughout 2014 while I was driving with Fall-Line in GS, I was the guy sweeping floors, mounting and dismounting tires, loading and unloading trailers, etc.
“Those experiences alone made this whole process of learning how to work together specifically with this team in a highly competitive environment much, much more straightforward and Cam really fit in well to that dynamic.”
You finished second at COTA last year. Does that set the bar for this year’s race?
“It does, but that is something we cannot focus on alone once we get on track next week.
“It’s great going into a race weekend knowing that you had success at that particular circuit in the past but for the most part it does not mean that the return will go as well as you expect sometimes; just look at Sebring for us between 2016 and 2017.
“Taking what we learned from last year and applying it once we get on track next week will prove to be advantageous, but we still have much to learn in order to stay ahead of both new and existing teams in the Continental Tire Challenge.”
What track that you haven’t driven before would you most like to get the chance to drive?
“Ah, tough question! I’ve been very fortunate to drive a lot of very, very special circuits over the last 3-4 years but I’ll still maintain that Watkins Glen is the greatest place ever. Period.
“There are certainly some tracks that are better than others, but I don’t think I have ever climbed out of the car and said to myself, ‘Wow this track is just terrible.’
“When it comes to a track that I would like to drive at some point, Nurburgring is at the top of the list for me since, well, it’s the Nurburgring. Came really close to running a few VLN races in 2015 but unfortunately that didn’t work out.
“Imola is another track that I hear is absolutely phenomenal and it definitely seems like it. Hoping to get there by the end of this year if all goes to plan!”
BROWNSBURG, Indiana (April 25, 2017) – Coming off a series-high four championships last season, Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing announced today their plans to run a four-car program in the 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American Series. In 2016, the two-car Prestige Performance racing effort saw incredible success as it took home the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American PRO Driver, PRO AM Driver, Team Champion and Dealer Champion titles. Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing have organized an impressive complement of talented and competitive drivers to debut their stable of Lamborghinis on the challenging 3.4-mile, 20-turn Circuit of the Americas road course in Austin, Texas at the Super Trofeo season opener, May 4 to 6.
“Wayne Taylor Racing is excited to step into the 2017 season with such a great list of drivers and to have David Wagener returning on our engineering side,” said Travis Houge, Team Manager, Wayne Taylor Racing. “We are looking forward to continuing the success of last season. Similar to our other racing endeavors, we have worked hard to build a program that not only wins races but also builds lasting and successful partnerships. We feel we have found that with the Lamborghini Group.”
In the PRO Category, the team will run its highly identifiable Nos. 1 and 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeos. The No. 1 racecar will again be piloted by series veteran and 2016 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American PRO AM driver champion Trent Hindman and his new teammate Riccardo Agostini. Agostini, in addition to his responsibilities to the Prestige Performance team, will also focus on bringing home the 2017 Super GT3 Pro Crown in the Italian GT Championship, where he drives for Antonelli Motorsport with teammate Daniel Zampieri. Veteran Hindman arrives at the Austin season opener having already started the year off with a podium finish, as he and the No. 26 BARI Motorsports Oreca FLM09 PC team came in second in class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Alex Popow and Michele Beretta will drive the No 10 Prestige Performance Super Trofeo. Beretta, having most recently competed at Daytona in the #61 Lamborghini Huracán GT3, will also be juggling his time between the North American Super Trofeo series and the Italian GT Series with Ombra Racing. Popow, a veteran sportscar driver, saw success in January at the Rolex 24, where he helped pilot the No. 88 Starworks Motorsports Oreca FLM09 PC to a solid fourth-place finish.
In the PRO AM Category, it was proudly announced the No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo will be driven by the organization’s first all-female driver pairing: Pippa Mann and Jackie Heinricher. Mann, who holds the record of the second fastest female qualifier of all time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a four-lap average at just under 230 mph, is also currently focused on qualifying for her sixth Indianapolis 500. Heinricher, as the only woman who competed at the Lamborghini World Finals in Valencia, Spain, took home two third-place finishes that weekend to add to her already solid podium record in the 2016 North American Super Trofeo series.
The fourth Prestige Performance entry and list of drivers will be named in the near future.
“We are so proud to be a part of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Series and to continue to support its vision for motorsports,” said Mark Laino, Race Program Manager, Prestige Performance. “Our partnership with Wayne Taylor Racing has truly allowed us to build a winning platform for drivers, both professional and amateur. We are committed to this program, its growth and are looking forward to a successful 2017, both on and off the track, for our customers and our organizations.”
The 2017 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Series will hold five events during IMSA WeatherTech Championship weekends: May 4 to 6 Circuit of the Americas, June 29 to July 1 at Watkins Glen International, Aug. 4 to 6 at Road America, Aug. 25 to 27 at Virginia International Raceway, and Sept. 22 to 24 at Laguna Seca. The World Finals will be held Nov. 16 and 17 in Imola, Italy.
TRENT HINDMAN, No. 1 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO): “As soon as we got off track in Valencia following the 2016 Super Trofeo World Final, I knew that I wanted to come back and have another opportunity to compete in Lamborghini Super Trofeo with the Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing team for 2017. Fortunately, through lots of extreme preparation and hard work, we were able to make that happen. I’m excited to make the step up to the full Pro category with Riccardo, whose resume speaks for itself, and to build upon the successes that the Prestige Performance team was able to achieve last year. Very happy to have my great friends at Trim-Tex riding along with us, once again, and I absolutely cannot wait to get to work at COTA with Riccardo and the Prestige Performance crew.” For additional driver information, visit www.trenthindman.com
RICCARDO AGOSTINI, No. 1 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO):“Racing with Wayne Taylor Racing is an opportunity to show my skills in America. Hopefully, the knowledge I’ve gained will help win another championship. I’m very happy to be paired with Trent Hindman in the Pro Class as he won the Pro Am championship last year – great opportunity for me.” For additional driver information, visit www.riccardoagostini.eu/en/
ALEX POPOW, No. 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO): “I’m very excited about this upcoming season and being with the Lamborghini Super Trofeos as I’m coming back to GT cars after some years of just driving the Prototypes. I am also looking forward to working with Wayne Taylor Racing and Prestige Performance. I think our team should be very strong from the beginning. We will fight hard to win races and the championship!” For additional driver information, visit www.alexpopow.com
MICHELE BERETTA, No. 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO):“I’m really thankful to all the people who made this possible, from Lamborghini to Prestige Performance. I’m really excited to start this new adventure. It is going to be the first year competing in the U.S. and this mean a new world for me to discover. I am looking forward to being on track and to getting the season started.” For additional driver information, visit www.micheleberetta.com/en/
PIPPA MANN, No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (PRO):“I am thrilled to be joining Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing for the 2017 Super Trofeo season. Learning a new car, a new team, a new series, and new tracks will be a big learning experience for me, and I’m extremely excited not only to have this opportunity, but to have this opportunity with such a great team.” For additional driver information, visit www.pippamann.com
JACKIE HEINRICHER, No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (AM): “I am excited to be involved with Prestige and Wayne Taylor Racing in the season effort and for the incredible opportunity in joining a professional team for long-term growth in sportscar racing.” For additional driver information, visit www.jackieheinricher.com
PRESTIGE PERFORMANCE | WAYNE TAYLOR RACING – 2017 ENTRY INFORMATION
- CAR: No. 1 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: Trent Hindman (PRO) | Riccardo Agostini (PRO)
- CAR: No. 10 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: Alex Popow (PRO) | Michele Beretta (PRO)
PRO AM CATEGORY
- CAR: No. 57 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: Pippa Mann (PRO) | Jackie Heinricher (AM)
TO BE NAMED
- CAR: No. 11 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán LP Super Trofeo
- DRIVERS: to be named
The last few times I have reported to you all, the results have been good, with maybe a few hiccups along the way.
I know that I included the rollercoaster that is the Rolex 24 in my last blog, but luckily Cameron Cassels and I were at least able to walk away from Daytona with a win in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge four hour enduro.
This time we we were not so lucky.
Getting down to Sebring a day earlier than expected due to some impending bad weather in the northeast turned out to be pretty beneficial, as our engineer Marc Manning, Cameron, and I were able to take advantage of the down time to walk the track and finalize strategies for the upcoming weekend.
All of the Porsche Cayman GT4s received a few Balance of Performance penalties post-Daytona, so that was certainly a major concern of ours coming into the weekend.
Argue as much as you want, but at the end of the day the only thing we can do is try our best to work around some of these penalties and continue moving forward as we knew we could. Complaining about it will never make your car magically go faster.
Throughout our test day on Wednesday and official practice on Thursday, it was clear that we had some work to do.
We were strong when compared to the other Porsches, but at the end of the day on Thursday we knew we still had to find more time, consistently, to be able to challenge for victory number two at Sebring.
There was very little doubt in my mind that we could get a little bit closer to the quickest GS cars, but it was going to take more effort and more time. Unfortunately more time was something we did not have.
This time last year, Cameron Cassels and I barely even knew each other or the crew that we were working with, so to walk away with a win at Sebring in our very first attempt was something that certainly caught us by surprise.
Along with that we were able to bring home the first win for the Porsche Cayman GT4 platform in global competition – a huge honor for such a new program at that point in time.
Knowing all of this, I certainly felt some additional pressure on my shoulders to go out and make it two in a row at Sebring for Bodymotion Racing.
Come race day, the new-for-2017 two-hour race format was a scenario we had prepared for quite well, so overall race time and strategy were the least of my concerns.
We were still down on pace but close enough to where I could mount an attack at the end of the race as long as we were in position to do so.
Unfortunately, about 30 minutes in, Cameron reported a vibration in the front end of the car that was consistently getting worse – not a good sign around Sebring.
We wanted him to stay out for as long as possible to reach minimum drive time, which he did, right as a full course yellow came out and three of our wheel studs were completely sheered off due to a badly damaged wheel. Not good!
Cam limped the car back to pit lane, we completed our stop, and I hopped behind the wheel. My heart sank as soon as I got the call over the radio to take the car behind the wall for repairs.
At that point I knew we were out of contention for the win, which was far from ideal, but at least there was some hope that we could make our repairs as quickly as possible and get the car back out on track.
In the end, we finished 10th in class, 4 laps down. Disappointing, but thinking about the grand scheme of things, we still kept ourselves in the race to earn points despite our problems – that’s how a team wins championships.
As always, a big thank you to Cameron Cassels, Trim-Tex Drywall Products, and the Bodymotion Racing team for the phenomenal effort all weekend even though the result was not what we were hoping for.
Next up is Circuit of the Americas at the beginning of May and that cannot come soon enough. We will take this time off to correct our mistakes and find our way back to the top step of the podium in Texas.