Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Europe (Round 1)
Vincenzo Sospiri Racing made its GT racing debut at Monza with Shinya Michimi and Kei Cozzolino claiming victory in the Pro-Am class and 3rd overall in Sunday’s race.
After the pre-season testing days at Vallelunga, the Vincenzo Sospiri Racing squad, with the driver pairing of Shinya Michimi and Kei Cozzolino in the #16 Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo car, was ready for their first taste of GT racing at the historic Monza circuit. Thursday and Friday were filled with a total of 4 hours of on-track testing. Within these sessions, the #16 car was running within the top 10 and was closely contesting for the top 5.
The two Qualifying sessions to decide the grid positions for Race 1 and Race 2, as well as Race 1, would all take place on Saturday. In Q1, on the final lap of the session, Cozzolino pulled out a superb lap putting the car in P2 on the outside of the front row for Race 1. In Q2, Michimi also posted his best lap on the final lap of the session, posting the 3rd best time in class and putting the car on row three in P5 for Sunday’s Race 2.
Cozzolino would be in the car for the start of Race 1. He was out-dragged in the run to the first corner and slipped back to P4. An incident on the opening lap brought out the safety car. When racing resumed, the top five ran in close formation for three laps when Cozzolino made a brilliant move around the outside of the P3 car of Spengler in turn 1 to take the position. A lap later, Cozzolino pitted to hand the #16 car over to Michimi. After a brilliant driver change and pit stop strategy, Michimi was able to come out in front of the leader of the race. But unfortunately his time at the lead was short-lived, as a slow puncture in the right front tire gave way and exploded at Ascari. Michimi was forced to limp back to the pits falling off the lead lap. At that time, they were also informed that they were being assessed a stop-and-go penalty for their initial pit stop having been too short. After all that, they had to settle for P21 finish overall and P7 in class.
Race 2 on Sunday saw Michimi behind the wheel for the start. Michimi got a good start from the inside of the 3rd row, but was hampered when he got stuck behind an amateur-rated driver and further hindered when light contact knocked the adjustable steering wheel out of locked position. He was able to get the wheel back to its correct position and then went in pursuit of Spengler in the Bonaldi car. Michimi made a move up the inside and was able to overtake the German to put the car in 5th position just before the pit stops. It was on lap thirteen that team boss Vincenzo Sospiri would call Michimi in for his stop. After brilliant timing again in the pits, Cozzolino would come out in P3 after the stop. He would continue putting a gap to the cars behind him and closing in on the leaders. When the checkered flag fell, he crossed the line in 3rd overall, and taking the victory in class.
– Shinya: “Well, definitely a weekend of ups and downs. On one side we had a really nice Race 2, where Kei and I were able to stand on the iconic Monza podium. But really Race 1 got away from us. A mixture of mistakes and bad luck led to us ultimately losing the race, when we really could have had a shot at the top step of the podium. We’ll have to learn from our mistakes before the next race in Silverstone in order to get a better result. But very happy with the win in Race 2.”
The next race will take place in the U.K. at Silverstone International Circuit in May.