Change Racing has already achieved one of its goals for 2015 by securing the Huracán Pro-Am championship with driver Corey Lewis at the conclusion of this weekend’s Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America races at Road Atlanta.
The focus then shifts to two key targets in the next month with the “regular season” portion of Super Trofeo nearly complete for the Robby Benton-led team.
The team is shooting to capture a World Final championship at Sebring International Raceway next month, and is now in full preparation mode for its debut into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2016 with the Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
Monster Energy-supported driver Lewis has won the last eight races in Pro-Am this season and has mathematically clinched the title going into Sebring. Meanwhile, Andy Lally added an overall win at Watkins Glen in Round 3 this year to deliver another win for Change.
As Benton explained, the way the team has progressed over now three seasons in Super Trofeo has gone perfectly to plan before its WeatherTech Championship debut next season.
“For me in particular with our NASCAR backgrounds it’s a big step,” Benton told Sportscar365. “Our purpose in competing Super Trofeo the last two years has been to prepare us to make the step to the GT class.”
Benton has arrived in sports cars, with both he and his RAB Racing team having been staples in NASCAR for the better part of 20 years.
Besides being a team principal and crewmember, Benton also used to drive in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series. But he’s been interested in sports cars for years.
“I’ve always been interested in it. It’s a departure from the (NASCAR) culture,” Benton said. “Some things we’ve been able to bring over here, which were not considered the norm for this paddock. I think that’s been valuable to us.
“We don’t yet have the experience to know ins and outs in this paddock as we do in NASCAR. But at the end of this year we’ll have three full seasons down in IMSA paddock, and three with Lamborghini.
“Squadra Corse is kind of new to the game, so are we entering it together. Giorgio Sanna, the head of motorsport has done a fantastic job to put this all together. We have a steep learning curve but we are ready for it.”
Change Racing will field at least one Huracán GT3 in next year’s WeatherTech Championship. Drivers are yet to be announced.
Benton said the team would be “moderately prepared” to run a second car, but would need a lot to happen for it to be a feasibility.
He expects the team to take delivery of its first GT3 chassis in late November or early December.
Benton likes the IMSA model and has enjoyed seeing the series progression in Super Trofeo over the last two years, and plans for the team to continue in Super Trofeo into 2016.
“The IMSA model is a lot like NASCAR’s to me, but eight or 10 years ago,” Benton said. “It’s a smaller group of people, smaller budget, smaller schedule. It’s not quite as stressful. It doesn’t take millions in sponsorship dollars to make this work.
“I think the (Super Trofeo) series has taken a big step forward,” he added. “It’s its third year in North America and it took the first two to establish a footprint and gain notoriety and respect.
“I think the Huracán does a lot to bolster the footprint. It’s a much better car than the Gallardo, not that the Gallardo was bad, but this is more of a proper GT style car.
“It’s appealing to drivers as a stepping stone for Continental Tire Challenge or the GT/Prototype paddock. It’s just as good for the mechanics and engineers, as it resembles a GT car to a degree, where it takes to work it and move it to a GT class program, which segways to our program next year.
“It’s a pipeline for mechanics, engineers, technicians to get their feet wet, work on the Super Trofeo and move into the GT class.”
Benton appreciates the history of the sport, and the Rolex 24 at Daytona, as the team prepares for its series debut in January.
“Something special for me is to start our first Daytona 24,” he said. “That’s one of the things over the past decade, where as we got ready for our first event in Daytona, we’re always watching Daytona 24 prepping for February.
“As we’d be watching it, I thought I always wanted to do it one day. To go to places where we’ve been fortunate to win at in Super Trofeo like Sebring, Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca – some of those historic tracks – and now to do it with a GTD class car and be with an iconic manufacturer in Lamborghini is special.
“As a kid I had Lamborghini posters on my wall, and now we’re part of their first foray into IMSA with the GTD class. It means a lot.”