When most people think of Austin, Texas they think of a fun city with great food and great music. When racers hear Austin, Texas they immediately think of one of the nicest race tracks in North America, Circuit of the Americas (COTA).
Rounds 7 and 8 of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America championship took place on the iconic circuit, one of the stops our team had circled on the calendar. Every driver wants to stand on the top step of the podium at COTA. It’s a step where the greats of Formula 1 have stood, the best of IMSA, WEC and more.
Heading into this event we knew we had to dig deep and push harder than ever after a very difficult weekend at VIRginia International Raceway at the end of August.
This weekend had a couple of new twists with me driving solo in the No. 10 car, after it was completely rebuilt after a hard crash by my teammate in VIR, and the addition of Will James piloting the No. 11 car in his Super Trofeo debut.
In the first practice I got my first taste of the legendary circuit and the car saw its first laps on the track since its rebuild. A mechanical problem plagued us during the first practice severely limiting my time on the track and the chance to shake down a fresh race car.
While the Prestige Performance team worked hard to fix the issue at hand, my teammates Will James and Enrique Bernoldi made the most of the session learning the track and making positive adjustments to the balance of our Huracáns.
By the end of practice, we knew we had our work cut out for us as we fought to find grip in the Texas heat. In qualifying I had another mechanical issue with the car causing us to lose time in the second session giving us a less than ideal starting position.
Round 7 started late in the afternoon, at the peak of a 95 degree day, making conditions in the cockpit absolutely brutal. Our team continued to push through the challenges and both Enrique and I were putting in solid laps. At the checkered flag we were both in the top five.
We wanted more, and expect more, but after the challenging weekend at VIR, having two cars in the top five was a breath of fresh air and much needed momentum for the entire team.
Enrique started Round 8 in P3, while I was deeper in the field at P9 after our challenges in qualifying. Enrique quickly moved into second position by Turn 2, while I battled four or five wide through the first corner.
By the mid-way point of the race we had worked our way into the top six. The balance of the car was better than it had been all week, an accomplishment and testament to our team.
Enrique Bernoldi took the checkered flag and the win. I finished in sixth and Will James finished the race, his primary goal in his first race weekend.
I could not be happier for the entire Prestige Performance team to get our first win and stand on the top step of the infamous COTA podium.
While I certainly expected and push for better a result myself, you have to take what the car will give you and for us, that meant a sixth place finish, a lot of information on the car and momentum heading into the final stretch of the 2015 Championship.
It is an honor and a privilege to race in this series and one that I hold in high regard. I cannot thank the team, Prestige Performance and Lamborghini Paramus enough for this incredible journey.