As the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America series begins to gear up for its third season of racing, a new, young face will make his first appearance in the series with Avid Motorsports.
Angel Benitez Jr. has been racing since he was 14, and motorsports always has been in his blood. But driving for Avid in the 2015 Super Trofeo season will be the next challenging step in his championship-winning racing career.
“To me it is a dream come true being able to race one of the most exotic cars in the world,” Benitez said. “And knowing the history of Lamborghini just makes it even more special.”
Racing history is very familiar to the affable Benitez, a Venezuelan native. His grandfather started autocross in Valencia, Venezuela, and his father, Angel Benitez Sr., followed in his footsteps while also introducing young Angel to the sport.
“I couldn’t resist trying to drive the cars while I was getting into racing and organizing races in Venezuela with my dad always next to me,” Benitez said. “That’s when I really started getting into motorsports. I guess racing is in our blood. Racing has something that no other sport can make you feel.”
Benitez, 25, started his career in open wheel cars at age 14. After winning two national championships in his home country, he came to the United States to race in the Sports Car Club of America Formula Continental series.
He then raced in the U.S. F2000 open-wheel championship in 2011 before moving to sports car racing in 2012.
The jump to Super Trofeo comes after three years in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA series, where he won the Gold Cup championship in his rookie year in 2012 and finished third in the Platinum Cup championship in 2013 and second in 2014, earning 17 victories along the way.
In 2014, Benitez and his father’s team, Formula Motorsport, teamed with Avid owner and fellow Venezuelan Carlos Cotto in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA. The partnership jelled quickly, as Benitez won five races, more than any other driver in the series.
“After showing what can do, I know there is no better team for me to start a new project such as the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo series,” Benitez said. “They have plenty of experience, and we definitely share goals, victories and championships. I really think Avid Motorsports will be one of the teams to beat this year.”
To keep it all in the Avid family, Benitez will co-drive with Nicholas Dickson, who has raced with the team for five years. The two have driven in endurance races together, and last year the Lamborghini dream was finally crafted.
“I have always been interested in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series; the cars are sexy and fast!” Benitez said. “I have been waiting for the chance to drive one of them until this year. I was Nick’s coach at Sebring last spring, and he gave me a call late last year with the dream of putting a deal together with Lamborghini.
“We waited until all the cards were on the table to announce it, and thanks to Nick and Avid Motorsports, here I am having my first shot in Lamborghini. None of this would be possible without them, so I really want to thank those guys for the opportunity.”
Benitez and Dixon will drive the brand-new Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo.
Unlike its predecessor, the four-wheel-drive Gallardo LP 570-4 Super Trofeo, the Huracán is rear-wheel drive, similar to the Porsches Benitez has raced in the past. But there will be differences to which Benitez must adapt.
“Right away the first difference will be the power,” Benitez said. “The Lamborghini will develop 200 horsepower more than the Porsche GT3. All the downforce the Huracán has should make it bit more aggressive on the driving, more like an open-wheel car.
“This new Lamborghini has traction control and ABS levels that you can manage throughout the race, and that is something interesting because it is not all about driving. You have to manage your tires and make use of the help the car can give you.”
Benitez recently drove the car for the first time at a demonstration but is looking forward to the real work beginning soon.
“For now I’m really looking forward to the test at Vegas,” he said. “That’s where we are really going to start the job in developing the car. I just can’t hide how excited I am about it.”
The 2015 Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America series opens May 1-3 with Rounds 1 and 2 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California.