The goal for Richard Antinucci and O’Gara Motorsport going into this week’s races at Sebring International Raceway was simple: secure the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America title by Friday, then take the World Final title outright on Sunday.
The first of those two goals is accomplished. The second will take a bit of work, and a bit of luck, to overcome a slight deficit heading into today’s second and final race of the World Final.
Antinucci and co-driver Edoardo Piscopo finished third overall and in Huracán PRO in Saturday’s first World Final race of the weekend, co-driving O’Gara’s No. 50 Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2.
If third seems like a surprise result, or a disappointment, it’s because it is, given the pair won five times in the North American season.
A red flag sabotaged both drivers’ hopes at a better qualifying result, and as such, given the tight gaps at the top from North American and European teams, overcoming the deficit from fourth on the grid proved too much to overcome.
Compared to Finn Patrick Kujala, the European series champion who won the first race on Saturday, or Loris Spinelli and Daniel Zampieri, who finished second in their first race together this weekend, there seems an innate chemistry between Antinucci and Piscopo they hope will drive them to the World Championship today.
“You need to shine in your session, but you have to care about the end result,” Piscopo told Sportscar365. “If you overdrive the car, your co-driver will suffer. This will affect you indirectly. You both need a result.
“You have to take into consideration driving techniques. But we have a similar driving style. I was so lucky to find him as a co-driver.”
The irony here comes from the fact Piscopo won last year’s World Final, and Antinucci finished second. Now, Antinucci’s trying to secure the crown as well.
“It would mean the world,” Antinucci told Sportscar365, only partially tongue-in-cheek.
“It’s a selfish sport. So to be teammates is like to tag team in wrestling… we need to beat everyone up, together. The mindset has changed, everything you do is for the benefit of your teammate, because it involves you as well.
“The first time I really spoke to him, he had won and I finished second. But this year, I got to know him. It’s been a mutually good relationship.”
Antinucci and Piscopo are realistically the only North American Huracán PRO entry with a shot at the title. On Saturday, European PRO cars finished in four of the top six positions overall, and the top two Asian entries were seventh and eighth.
Meanwhile, Change Racing’s Justin Marks ended just ninth in class, and problems hit both Prestige Performance Huracáns and Madison Snow’s BAD Lambo Racing entry.
“The competition was already very high last year, and what I saw at the World Finals was a high standard,” Antinucci said. “This year, it’s higher still.”
They’ll be one of the key cars to watch in today’s final race, but not the only one.
Both Corey Lewis and Josh Hurley enter their respective races having won three races in as many races at Sebring this weekend, in their respective classes.
Lewis, whose two Huracán PRO-AM wins Friday in Change Racing’s No. 29 car were his ninth and tenth consecutive in the regular season, also won with a fifth place overall finish on Saturday, beating not just the North American but all entrants in the PRO-AM division.
Hurley captured both Gallardo class wins on Friday, and a third straight Saturday in his No. 76 Musante-Courtney Racing Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4. After the final lap fracas involving Damon Ockey and Josh Norman, Hurley finished an incredible third overall in the older car.
Additionally, Ryan Ockey of Vancouver will seek to deliver O’Gara a title in the Huracán AM ranks if he can follow up his win in the No. 89 car himself, in another of the North American entries. Meanwhile brother Damon Ockey looks to bounce back from the frustrating finish on Saturday, where he lost the win on the last lap.