Rising IMSA star Austin Versteeg will make the switch to the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America series next year, having been confirmed in one of DXDT Racing’s Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo cars for the 2017 season.
The 17-year-old Utah native, who finished runner-up in this year’s Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires championship with JDC Motorsports, is set for his GT racing debut in one of the fastest growing single-make series in the world.
“It’s really exciting because the only two years of car [racing] I’ve had have been in a super lightweight, heavy downforce prototype car, in the Prototype Lites car, which was an amazing experience,” Versteeg told Sportscar365.
“But for [next year], GT cars is the route we’re going to go and I’m really excited to make the move over and continue to try to learn and improve as much as possible.”
Versteeg, who claimed nine wins out of 14 Prototype Lites races this year in a season-long battle with eventual champion Clarke Toppe, admitted his future prototype options were limited, particularly with the phase-out of the Prototype Challenge class in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“That was definitely a contributing factor, that the fact that PC is now [on it’s way out] and everything is going to be P2,” he said. “That’s a pretty big jump [to LMP2].
“We were looking at LMP3 but no one really had a solid idea until a few weeks ago about what was going to happen [with the series]. It didn’t seem like anyone had the puzzle pieces put together on that.
“I was always interested in driving GT cars. Everything fell into place to make that happen. I’m just happy to know we have a place secured and locked down for this coming season and I’m excited to learn a whole new craft.”
According to DXDT team co-principal David Hikes, Versteeg has the possibility of helping lead the team into a young driver development program, either with Lamborghini or with another to-be-announced GT3 manufacturer the team is currently working with.
“He struck us as the perfect opportunity to move into a potential junior driver development program,” Hikes told Sportscar365.
“We’ve started working with Chris Ward [Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America coordinator] and all of the people from Lamborghini for the potential of moving him through the program, into GT3 cars.”
Versteeg got his first laps in the Huracán Super Trofeo in two tests at Spring Mountain Raceway in Pahrump, Nev. earlier this year, with additional testing planned in the buildup to the season-opening round at Circuit of The Americas in May.
“Within a couple of days, he was right up to race pace and very comfortable and very responsive and giving great feedback,” Hikes said. “He’s very well-versed in his abilities to adapt to different cars and different track conditions.
“We’re really excited to have him be part of the team and looking forward to continued development work with him.”
Versteeg added: “Prototypes and GT cars are very different. I’ve already had a couple of tests in the Super Trofeo car and it’s definitely been a big learning curve.
“But I think with the people on the team and the people I’m surrounding myself with, I think we’re in business to continue to improve. I’m excited.”
Hikes said the Utah-based DXDT squad will field a minimum of four Super Trofeo entries next year, alongside a two-car Pirelli World Challenge GT program, which will be formally announced next week.