2016 Aug. 5th-7th Road America (USA) – Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America (Rounds 5 & 6)
Shinya Michimi found his way back to the top step of the podium with a dominating performance on Sunday in Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America Round 6 at Road America. Michimi earned the 21.580-second win in the No. 1 Prestige Performance entry representing Lamborghini Paramus over Brandon Gdovic, for his fourth win of the season.
“It’s great to get the Wish for Our Heroes, Prestige Performance No. 1 car back in victory lane,” Michimi said. “I can’t thank the guys enough overseas and everyone here for all they do.”
Michimi started the race in second position behind the No. 07 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracán representing Lamborghini Las Vegas driven by Cedric Sbirrazzuoli. Sbirrazzuoli, one of Lamborghini Squadra Corse’s GT3 Junior Program drivers, led the field through Turn 1 at the drop of the green flag and Michimi fell back into third position, dropping behind the #46 car of Brandon Gdovic. Michimi would get the position back in the opening lap, passing Gdovic in the lefthander at turn 5 and then setting about catching up to the leader. By lap 3 he had closed the gap to Sbirrazzuoli, and the two raced nose-to-tail through the first 15 minutes of the 50-minute race, pulling away from the rest of the field. At the 18-minute mark, Michimi tried to make an outside move in Turn 5 but had to check up when he ran out of racing surface, giving a slight gap back to Sbirrazzuoli. Two laps later Michimi had again closed the gap and pulled alongside Sbirrazzuoli on the straightaway heading towards turn 1, with both drivers braking late going into the turn. Trying to hold the position, Sbirrazzuoli got loose and went slightly wide. The two were then side by side racing down the hill, but Michimi was able to hold on to the inside line down into turn 3 and take over the lead.
Michimi pitted immediately when the mandatory pit stop window opened, while Sbirrazzuoli stayed out to try and make up some ground before handing off the car to his co-driver.
As the field cycled through, the #07 Dream Racing car came out of the pits just slightly in front of Michimi, but it took Michimi only half of the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit to reclaim first place. He would check out for the remaining 20 minutes, building the eventual 21.580-second margin of victory and setting the fastest lap of the race.
“My gap kept getting a bit bigger,” Michimi said. “I was just in a good rhythm and for the last lap I decided to just turn it up a bit and see if I could best my best lap. The car was really good.”
The battle for the remaining podium positions was intense as teammate Trent Hindman in the No. 10 Prestige Performance entry started picking off the cars in front of him and making his way to the front. By the time the white flag flew, he was right in the rear view mirror of the #46 DAC Motorsports entry of Brandon Gdovic. Gdovic matched Hindman’s every move to hold him off and claim the second place overall finish. Hindman and Duerson claimed the final spot on the podium with a third-place overall finish.
The previous day, Round 5 turned out to be a day of bad luck for Michimi. Michimi started on outside pole next to the # 17 US RaceTronics car of Richard Antinucci, but fell back to third on the start. Antinucci, the 2015 Super Trofeo North America Pro Driver Champion, was able to extend his lead slightly through his stint but was never able to completely pull away from the Prestige cars of Trent Hindman and Shinya Michimi. The three were able to gap the rest of the field, at one point pulling a 17.6867 second lead to the fourth position. Just seconds before the mandatory pit stop window opened, an incident in Turn 1 brought out the first full-course yellow. The caution bunched the field back together and delayed the pit window from opening. At the restart, Antinucci retained his lead followed by Hindman and Michimi. Michimi, sensing that something was wrong with the wheel, causing a handling issue, immediately dove into the pits when the window opened. It turned out that there was a loose wheel nut, but as the crew has to wait until the full pit stop time has been reached before they can even begin to work on the car, Michimi lost a huge amount of time in the pits and narrowly avoided going a lap down.
Both Antinucci and Hindman remained on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn circuit to try and get some laps in clean air. A good pit stop strategy, which is becoming a trend with the Prestige Performance team, put Duerson out in front as the pit stops cycled through after he took over the No. 10 from Hindman. Thienes, who took control of the No. 17 US RaceTronics entry from Antinucci, was behind him in second, followed by Brandon Gdovic.
With just over ten minutes remaining in the 50-minute race, Will James in the No. 11 eXclaim Racing/Migliore Motorsports entry representing Lamborghini Paramus, made hard contact with the wall in the Kink, bringing out the second full-course yellow and freezing the field. The damage was too much to repair in time and the race ended under yellow.
Duerson and Hindman took the overall win in Round 5 with Thienes and Antinucci finishing second overall, and the No. 46 DAC Motorsports car of Brandon Gdovic finishing third overall.
Shinya: “We had a bit of bad luck on Saturday with the wheel nut issue and then with the race- ending caution coming out, there was no chance to try to make it back to the front of the field. We were really glad to be back to form on Sunday and have a chance to contend for the win. I had a great battle with Cedric. He’s a very talented driver and I really enjoyed the challenge of battling with him for the lead. I was really glad to be able to get the win for the Prestige crew, who worked so hard to make sure that we would not have any issues on Sunday. Also really happy for my teammates for taking the win for the team on Saturday. They really give us a great car and really had it dialed in here at Road America, so I was glad we could bring both wins home for the Prestige / Wayne Taylor Racing crew. As always, I really have to thank them for all of their hard work and incredible dedication.”
The next Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo America event will be Aug. 26-28 at VIRginia International Raceway. VIR is the only circuit that has hosted the North American series in each of their first four seasons.