Despite entering the weekend as the reigning Lamborghini World Final champion, Trent Hindman says he still feels like the underdog amongst of stout field of competitors in Vallelunga.
The American, who teamed with Ricardo Agostini to score an impressive win on an unfamiliar circuit last year in Imola, is back this year to defend the crown for Wayne Taylor Racing.
Hindman says that he feels no extra pressure as the defending champion of the event, adding that he is pleased to once more be cast in the underdog role.
“To be honest, I think we have been flying under the radar,” Hindman told Sportscar365.
“It was pretty unexpected last year and I think it’s pretty unexpected this year, but maybe now that I open my mouth maybe we aren’t flying under the radar as much!
“I haven’t felt anything around the paddock, which I’m happy about. I don’t want to be walking around as the guy with all this weight on their shoulders.
“If anything, I want to be the one to put weight on my shoulders because I know that this is my own doing. It also keeps the pressure off the team, off [co-driver] Jonathan [Cecotto], and all these Wayne Taylor Racing guys.
“I’m sure they could handle it without blinking an eye, but with that said there’s some things that are a little more comfortable [out of the spotlight].
“I’m happy that it’s not just a microscope on the whole team and we can go into this as underdogs, just like how we were last year.”
The North American and Asian competitors enter the weekend at a disadvantage compared to their European counterparts due to a relative lack of experience at the technical, and treacherous, Vallelunga circuit.
Hindman at WTR overcame a similar level of unfamiliarity last year at Imola, and after testing and Friday’s Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America races he said the team will assess what it has learned so far and apply it to the task ahead.
“We still have more to gain for sure, and not just compared to the European teams,” he said.
“They’re all strong, and we’re pretty good as well compared to them, but just my own feeling of the car and knowing what we’re capable of, I think we can extract more.
“What we’re going to do now is sit down and analyze the hell out of Races 1 and 2, especially Race 2 because while we don’t want to be in the position where we’re following anybody, clean air is king here, we also need to understand what has to be done in order to work through traffic efficiently.
“That’s really going to be the trick. I know this team and I know we have more to gain in ourselves heading into tomorrow.”
Dramatic Win on Friday
Hindman and Cecotto already have one dramatic win under their belt after Hindman tracked down Edoardo Piscopo in the closing laps of the North American championship’s season finale.
Piscopo’s car had been handed a 0.342 second time penalty for a pit stop time violation, and when the Italian was balked by lapped traffic, Hindman had to get within that margin to win the race.
“I figured that I can’t follow him,” said Hindman. “If I follow him and he slides off the road or has contact then I’d be right there with him, so I’ve got to do something different and luckily it worked.
“If it was a flat out race for me to have the track position, I didn’t have enough. That shows how difficult it is to race around this track. But they shorted their pit stop and we knew they had a penalty.
“Either way, it was a scenario where I knew I just had to get as close as I could to try to close that three tenths gap. It was wheel to wheel at the finish, which just goes to show how close three tenths is!”