Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Europe (Round 6)
The three Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Championships joined together at the Sebring International Raceway in America for an intense four day race program, which included the final round of the European Championship as well as the World Final. For the final round of the European Championship, the drivers ran together with the Asian cars, which meant there would be a total of 42 Lamborghinis fighting for space on the 6km long circuit. Series regulars Shinya Michimi and Kei Cozzolino were sharing the number 116 VSR Huracán car and went into the double header sitting 4th in the European Pro Cup points championship.
Thursday saw the drivers take to the old airfield circuit for three sessions of free practice, squeezed into a short six hour period, that were followed almost immediately by qualifying. Michimi drove in the first qualifying session and set the 4th fastest time in the Pro Class. In Qualifying 2, Cozzolino took the wheel and qualified 5th in the Pro class.
The first of the European races took place on Friday morning. Cozzolino got a good start, gaining one position right away, only to be tipped into a spin from behind by one of the Asian competitors. When Cozzolino rejoined the field, he was last in class and 31st overall, but then quickly went to work in order to make up as much time as possible. After only four laps, the caution flag came out. Cozzolino had made it back up to 25th position overall. The full course yellow lasted until lap eight and when the track went green, Cozzolino was called in to hand over to Michimi. Michimi continued tearing through the field and had made his way into the top ten, when three laps later he was forced to come in to serve a drive-through penalty for a pit lane speed violation assessed to his teammate, Cozzolino. This threw them down the order again and Michimi re-joined in 27th. He again started to carve his way through the field when a massive accident (Mavlanov) with debris scattered all over the race course resulted in a full course yellow, and the fifty minute race finishing behind the safety car. Despite all of the turmoil, Michimi had worked his way up enough to end up finishing 4th in the Pro class and 12th overall.
Just ten points covered the 3rd to 7th place drivers in the Pro Cup points championship battle when the teams took to the grid for the final round. The tension increased when rain began to fall at turn ten and soon a heavy shower covered the whole circuit. The start was initially delayed, and then declared wet, enabling all the drivers to return to the pits to change tires before lining up on the grid again. The race started behind the safety car and the green flag was waved eight minutes in. Michimi, who had been given starting duties for the #116 Huracán, was in 5th overall, when an accident on the start-finish straight brought out full course yellows on lap five. When the pit lane window opened, the team brought in the #118 car of Costa but left the #116 car of Michimi out. Michimi was forced to pit to handover to Cozzolino just as the safety car pulled off, and as a result, a lot of track position was lost to the cars which had already made their stops. At the checkered, Cozzolino brought the car home in 4th in Pro, enough to retain 4th for Michimi and Cozzolino in the European Pro Cup points championship for the year.
Despite a difficult and frustrating couple of days for the European Final, the team would have to quickly regroup for the World Finals set to take place at Sebring immediately following the individual series’ finals. The Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo World Final combines the European, Asian, and North American Super Trofeo series into one super event with two races, to see who can come out on top against all the best Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Drivers around the world.