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Austin Versteeg files his first Sportscar365 column after maiden overall win…

Photo: Jamey Price/Lamborghini

From the moment I rolled through the gates at Virginia International Raceway and into the paddock for Thursday’s Promoter Test Day, I knew that the pace of the sessions this weekend would be flat out from all the Lamborghini Super Trofeo cars.  

Rounds 7 and 8 marked the second half of the season for the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series. The weekend kicked off with a four-session Promoter Test Day that was very fast paced.

The test sessions were separated by an hour each, so each practice was a mini workshop of trying new setups, driving lines and looking at data.

As the day went by, my DXDT Racing team and I continued to learn throughout each session and improve. It was a great day, as I’ve never driven the full course before at VIR. The track has a unique configuration, with the first sector being very technical, the second being very fast and flowing, and the third being a combination of both.  

What a fast track! I was excited for official practice to start the next day.

On Friday, there were two official practices to try and solidify the setup on the car, and to see how our pace compared to the other drivers.  

In the first practice session, we went flat out trying to see what pace I could extract from the car and from myself, it was a good session. We followed up practice one with seeing how the car would handle over a long stint in the second session.

We were pleased with how the car developed and then rolled the car back to the pit to prep it even further for an early morning qualifying session.

The big task in qualifying is trying to qualify up front in this very close and competitive Super Trofeo field.

Heading into qualifying, I truly believed that if we were able to start in the first two rows, we had a great shot at winning the overall trophy.

Unfortunately, qualifying for the first race didn’t go as planned. I wasn’t able to put in my best time due to some bad luck on a few laps. So, after the first 15 minutes of qualifying, I was starting Race 1 in sixth position.

The Second half of qualifying went much better as I was able to stay traffic and trouble free, pushing the car to a second place starting position for Sunday’s race. I was happy with the bounce back in the second qualifying session, and my focus shifted immediately to Race 1.

We were more than confident with our race pace. The biggest task, however, was going to be gaining a few positions at the start, to put us in a good position for the second half of the race after the pit stops.  

I was able to get a good jump on the outside of Row 3 and was side by side with second as we went braking into Turn 1. I had some contact from a car behind, which pushed me wide in Turn 1, forcing me to drop back to 8th.

I quickly worked my way back up to sixth and set my sights on the top-five. As time clicked off the clock, I was able to pass for fifth and the team called me in for the mandatory 84-second pit stop.  I had a good in and out lap to gain two positions during the pit window, and began my chase from third to catch the leaders.

As the race continued, I moved up to second place after the leader had to serve a penalty. My sights were now set on the experienced veteran driver Andy Lally, and the car was feeling great.

I was able to close up on Lally, but getting by him was another story.

VIR is very tough to pass on, and adding a multi-year veteran to the mix didn’t make it any easier.After following him for a few laps, I was able to get by in Turn 3 and started to push the car even harder for the rest of the race.

Unfortunately I had picked up a one-second penalty due to a pit stop issue and I  knew I had to stretch the gap from the hard-charging Trent Hindman. I was able to hold off Hindman’s relentless pressure and crossed the line in first, but we still lost the race by three tenths of a second due to the penalty.

We had finished in second overall once again, and scored the Pro-Am class win for the fourth time! I had just raced and battled relentlessly with some of America’s most well known sports car drivers and held my own.

I was pumped up, and this was a major confidence booster heading into Sunday’s race where I had a better starting position.

As I arrived at the track on Sunday, I already had a plan for what I needed to do to challenge for the overall win once again.

I knew that I had to hold second place through the opening corners in order to keep in touch with the leader and stretch the gap before the pit stop window.  

As the green flag dropped, I was able to get a good jump from second and defend down into Turn 1. I maintained position on the exit of 1, and was a car length behind headed into Turns 2 and 3.

I was still close enough to the leader that when he had a bobble exiting Turn 3, I was able to pass him in the brake zone of Turn 4 and pick up the lead of the race.  

From that point on it was flat out. We had to gain a three-second gap before the pit window, because the rules state you must spend three seconds longer in the pit box if you don’t have a co-driver.

Once again the race pace was amazingly fast! We were able to run very fast and consistent laps to stretch the lead.

I pitted this time with no issues and kept pushing throughout the race. We were able to extend our lead over the rest of the field by 30 seconds, and I had won my first Super Trofeo overall victory!  

Wow… what an awesome feeling, to achieve this win my rookie season against such stiff competition!

I was at a loss for words, and am still so thrilled sitting here the next day writing this blog. All I can say is thank you!

Thank you to all who have helped and who continue to support me on this amazing journey. Thank you to my driver coach Jonatan Jorge, who continues to help myself and many other drivers grow and improve on and off the track.

Thank you to my team, DXDT racing, my sponsors Size Slim, Muscle Egg, DEP Patch and Lamborghini Squadra Corse for providing such a great series to race in.

I can’t wait to head to the beautiful scenery of California for the next two rounds of the championship at Laguna Seca. See you there!

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