Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America class champion Luke Berkeley is poised to graduate to the top Pro class next year after clinching the Am title at his first attempt.
The 17-year-old from Florida embarked on his first full season of car racing this year and ended up winning the Am crown with a race to spare during the Misano finale.
Berkeley, who is a member of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse Young Driver program, is now setting his sights on the Pro division with Dream Racing as part of a future ambition to represent the Italian manufacturer on the GT3 stage.
He is set to make his Pro-level debut on Saturday when he moves up to the top Super Trofeo class for the World Final, courtesy of being given a Silver grading by the FIA.
“I’ll be moving to Pro in the North American series, one more year of Super Trofeo next year and then moving to GT3 to start the really hard part,” Berkeley told Sportscar365.
“My team and Lamborghini work very close together. They figured that another year in Super Trofeo, since it’s harder to drive than a GT3, would make me a better driver overall.
“And then I would move to GT3 and hopefully be extremely fast running with the best in the world.
“I haven’t driven one, but I will most likely do a test program in a GT3 midway through next season when I’m running Pro in Super Trofeo, as long as I’m doing well.”
Berkeley started racing in autocross events and also competed in karting and a couple of Formula Ford races at Sebring before opening his affiliation with Lamborghini.
He attended Lamborghini’s annual Corso Pilota course with Dream Racing, on a scheme that is designed as an introductory step for young drivers interested in GT racing.
“Dream Racing then put me in for a season in the Am class,” said Berkeley.
“I used the year to learn, improve myself, and learn the car. Now we can run overall with the Pros, so it’s been very good.
“As a driver, I think I’ve improved more than I thought I would ever.
“The confidence is there immediately when I’m in the car. It’s a very confidence-inspiring experience, to be honest.
“From the beginning I knew that I would be fast, but to be running P5 overall with the Pros on Lamborghini’s home stage in Italy is perfect for me.
“Some of the main things have included saving the tire and pushing when needed. Making smart moves and racecraft are super important for me to learn, with not much racing before.
“Also learning where to place the car and the feel of the car: it’s not extremely easy to drive. So learning how to adapt to its different quirks was what I needed. Now I’m confident and I’m able to push.”
Berkeley claimed his first Super Trofeo Am class victory in the fourth race of the season at Virginia. The Misano Race 1 win on Friday was his fifth in a row after prevailing in Race 2 at Road America and sweeping the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca weekend.
“The biggest thing for me at the beginning of the year was getting over a couple of difficulties including being taken out and having a technical failure,” said Berkeley.
“I knew that if I put those behind me and take it on the chin, with strong races I could possibly win the championship.
“So to get it with one race to go is a plus, but either way winning the championship is huge.
“It’s my first year in professional racing and my first full season in a car. Lamborghini are supporting and watching. Making my parents, team and sponsors proud is very exciting for me, and I hope for more.”
Berkeley is set to continue racing as a solo competitor in the 2022 Super Trofeo North America season, which will mark the introduction of the Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo EVO2 upgrade model.
“I’d like to spend as much time in the car as possible, to improve myself,” he explained.
“To put another driver in the car doesn’t make much sense because I want to maximize my driving time. If you put a Pro in like [Loris] Spinelli and we win, everyone will look to him.
“So I’d like to focus on me and I feel the best way to do that is to drive by yourself, to show you skills.
“Driver changes will soon come in when I go testing GT3. But for now we focus on Super Trofeo, because we have a lot of work to do for next year.”