Racing at VIR is always one of the highlights of the season. I think most drivers agree that it is one of the best circuits we visit in North America.
For me, VIR is somewhat of a home race, being from Lynchburg, Virginia and now residing in Charlotte. Although it is one of my favorite tracks, it’s still the one track I have yet to stand on the top step of the podium at.
This past weekend at VIR for Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America Championship were by far the most difficult rounds I have ever experienced in Super Trofeo and possibly, ever, in any form of racing.
While the weekend certainly started on a high note, things changed faster than the uphill Esses.
After posting very fast times Thursday during the promoter test day and being in top three in both practices on Friday, we knew that our Prestige Performance Huracán was fast.
Saturday started early with qualifying at 8 a.m. I started the first qualifying session in the No. 1 car to get everything up to temperature before handing the car off to my co-driver, Enrique Bernoldi for our flyer lap.
As Enrique took the green flag for his first lap at speed, disaster struck when my teammate DiFiore slammed into the tire barrier exiting Turn 4. This brought out a red flag for the majority of the qualifying session and changed the landscape of the weekend for our team.
Unable to get a timed lap in either session, we knew we would be starting from the tail of the field in Rounds 5 and 6.
In the first race, Round 5, we started from 23rd position. I was able to make my way through the field and by the 20-minute mark, we were in the top five. I handed off the Paramus Lamborghini to Enrique to finish out the remaining time of the 50-minute sprint race.
After starting last on the grid and serving a pit road penalty, we finished fifth. While this was extremely disappointing for everyone involved, we were able to set the second fastest lap to position ourselves in second for Round 4 of the championship, which was rained out at Watkins Glen.
At the start of the Round 4 on Saturday afternoon, I settled in the second behind Edoardo Piscopo. I started to get loose on right hand corners and immediately knew something was wrong.
We had a cut tire that came apart exiting “Oak Tree” turn just before infamous and very long back straight. We were able to limp the car to pit road and change the tire but not before losing a lap to the leaders. This was yet another setback, sealing our fate off the podium.
Sunday was a new day for Round 6. As we rolled out for the formation lap we immediately had a massive mechanical failure sending the left rear wheel into the grass. I, along with my team and everyone else watching were quite shocked.
We were able to fix the problem and run to the halfway point before handing the car off to Enrique for his stint. Moments after Enrique started his stint we had another failure but this time on the right rear of the car finally ending our day.
Crashes, penalties, cut tires and mechanical failures… Needless to say it was a very difficult weekend, ending my personal streak of a podium finish at every Super Trofeo weekend since the inception of the North America Championship.
It’s all about perspective. As bad as our weekend was, it pales in comparison to the events that happened at Pocono.
While we look towards our next event at Circuit of the Americas, knowing that we will have a much better weekend, our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with the Wilson family and remembering that this sport is often cruel. But this is our life and our passion.
Justin Wilson was always upbeat and full of optimism even in the toughest of days, an example for everyone in racing.
So in honor of Justin, we look forward to next one, with a heavy heart, but full of optimism. #BadAssWilson