Richard Antinucci says the increased level of competition in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America this season has been noticeable, and welcome, as the 2015 Pro class champion looks to add to his resume.
After scoring three straight wins to start the year, a recent spate of poor fortune has the Change Racing driver sitting second in points behind Trent Hindman and Riccardo Agostini, who share the top spot in the championship standings at the midway point of the season.
That trio of drivers, plus Pro-Am class competitors such as Austin Versteeg and Edoardo Piscopo, have made it a more competitive race at the front of the field this season than in Antinucci’s first few seasons in the series.
“I’d say it’s been more and more competitive,” Antinucci told Sportscar365.
“It’s the third year of the generation of this car so teams and drivers who have done this before have a leg up.
“Guys like Hindman, who has been in it and has come back for a second year, Agostini who is a factory driver and drives these cars all the time, and myself, Piscopo, and Austin Versteeg, who has done a lot of private testing.
“And these teams behind the drivers have two or three years of experience so they’re getting it done.
“I think the gaps are closer between the cars themselves and so the drivers represent more what the cars are capable of. It’s just a much tighter field than it has been. It’s a lot more exciting to watch.”
Antinucci, a veteran of top-level sports car and open-wheel racing, said he thinks Super Trofeo is starting to be noticed more and more as the strength of the grid continues to grow.
“I definitely think so because there are some pros that have raced at this level and have gone to other categories, or come from other categories that are more established, let’s say, and then they come here and they don’t exactly dominate,” he said.
“It’s definitely a good field. I can say that at the front it is as tough as anything I’ve ever raced in. I was the fastest Lamborghini in Sebring this year in the 12 Hours, and sometimes I’m not the fastest in Super Trofeo.
“My point is this field is thick and everyone has the same machinery, more or less. It’s very tough.
“It’s a fun series and it’s rewarding. At the end of they day, if you win in the same car you feel very good about it.
“We’ve had a good first half of the year. If we can win another 50 percent of races I think we’re right there.”
After starting the season as the lone driver in the car, Change has drafted Andy Lally to drive alongside Antinucci for this weekend’s races at Virginia International Raceway with an eye on gaining ground in championship, which Antinucci says is within reach.
“It’s still in sight for sure,” he said. “We lost traction in the last two weekends.
“Out of the last four races I’ve had a win and a second and then two last places, and that’s what hurt me. That’s what will throw you back.
“Consistency prevails, and we know how to win races but we need to be more consistent and better on our bad days.
“Trent [Hindman] and Agostini are very good drivers with a very good team [Prestige Performance], the champion team from last year. Trent was already good last year and has picked it up a little more.
“I think Prestige improved their car a little bit more, so they will be very tough to beat and it’s rewarding when we manage to do so.
“I can’t wait to get on track at VIR, I love that track. I had the pole and [lap] record last year, and if we can get anywhere near matching that, we can be in a very good position.”