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The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Pro-Am Championship came down to the last laps of the last race of the season with the US RaceTronics duo of Edoardo Piscopo and Taylor Proto winning the back and forth battle and taking the championship over Austin Versteeg with a win in Round 12 at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. The USRT pair came into the last two Rounds of the 2017 LSTNA Championship with a one-point lead. Versteeq took the championship lead when the No. 50 Lamborghini of Beverly Hills Huracan finished second in Round 11. Piscopo started Round 11 and built a 15-second gap before handing the car to Proto. The pace-car came out for a track incident shortly after the switch wiping out the gap. Versteeg capitalized on Proto being fresh in the car from the driver change and managed to take the lead in the race and in the championship. This sent the championship into a winner-take-all last race battle.
Rookie driver Taylor Proto started Race 2 with an impressive move that allowed the young British driver to stay in front of Versteeg. A few laps later the duo got into a back and forth battle that saw Proto make an impressive pass to regain the lead and start to pull away. Proto was able to turn the car over to Pro-driver Edoardo Piscopo with the advantage. Piscopo had to battle lapped traffic from the Asian series and a yellow-flag which allowed Versteeg to close the gap once again. This time however, Piscopo was able to put down the necessary lap times to win the race and bring home the championship.
“Mission completed,” Edoardo Piscopo said after the second race. “This (the championship) was my goal from the beginning of the season. It was harder than I expected. We had some bad races, but overall today I think we showed who we really are. Taylor did a great job racing with Austin (Versteeg). It was a good battle. Very aggressive, but at the same time very clean. Now the first battle is done, so let’s go for the next one. Tomorrow should be fun.”
Taylor Proto was ecstatic after the win and expects to remember the championship moment for the rest of his life.
“That’s the way to finish a season,” Proto said. “I didn’t expect to come into Super Trofeo and immediately be in contention like this. I’m happy that we were able to turn it around. I admit that I sort of rested on my laurels after Watkins Glen, but I’m happy that I was able to bring it back together toward the season end. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Edoardo. He’s been an outstanding mentor and teacher throughout the year. He’s been extremely consistent with his results and today was amazing. I was so happy for it. The adrenaline is still rushing. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight. Today was outstanding and I’ll remember it forever.”
Team owner Shane Seneviratne was extremely happy with the team’s championship, but felt bad that Thienes had such a tough day.
“What an amazing race,” Seneviratne said after the second race of the day. “The guys did such a great job. Taylor drove an awesome first stint. I think the championship was won when Taylor and Versteeg had that little battle. That was really impressive and I’m very proud of Taylor’s driving. Edoardo as usual, Steady Edo, brought it home and got the job done. Congratulations to both drivers. It was a well-deserved championship. It’s one of the best championships I’ve ever won. Hats off to all the guys on the team; they all worked hard. I feel bad for Brian. He got taken out of the race early, but we’ll try to come back with both Lamboghini of Beverly Hills’ cars tomorrow for the World Finals.”
AM driver Brian Thienes came into the weekend hoping to finish the North American championship on a high-note, but things just didn’t go his way. Thienes was running second in class in Round 11 at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari when he his Lamborghini of Beverly Hills was damaged by contact with under 6 minutes left in the race. Round 12 was even worse. Thienes was hit from behind and made contact with the concrete barrier on the first lap of the race, ending his day. The always upbeat Southern California native was disappointed, but is confident that he can still bring home good results in the World Finals this weekend.
“Obviously, the day didn’t go as we’d hoped,” Thienes said. “We had decent qualifying positions, but we weren’t able to finish either race. That really hurt. US RaceTronics gave me a good car once again and even managed to make repairs in the short turnaround between the two races, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I do think we’ll be able to bounce back for the World Finals tomorrow and Sunday, so I’m looking forward to that.”
The World Finals start tomorrow, November 18, 2017 with morning practice at 8:30 a.m. for the LB Cup and AM cars and 9:05 a.m. for the Pro and Pro-Am cars local time. Both groups have two qualifying sessions in the morning with their first races in the afternoon. The AM and LB Cup race goes green at 1:20 p.m., while the Pro and Pro-Am race starts at 3:30 p.m.