Antinucci takes the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America season opener as the GTD team secures fourth position for tomorrow’s Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown
Austin, Texas (5 May 2017) – It was a familiar start to the season for two-time Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Champions Change Racing, taking victory in the North American series opener on Friday. The triumph by Richard Antinucci in the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini entry marks the fifth consecutive season with a victory for the team.
Earlier in the day, Change Racing’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona squad put the No. 16 XBOX / Monster Energy / Orion Lighting Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven by Corey Lewis, fourth on the starting grid for Saturday’s Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown.
Open-wheel and sports car veteran Richard Antinucci, driving the No. 16 Huracán Super Trofeo class entry, started the race in second position, staying side-by-side with pole sitter (and former teammate) Edoardo Piscopo through the iconic first turn at Circuit of the Americas. He took advantage of the hard left-hander at Turn 2 to take the lead and never looked back, taking the checkered flag with a two second advantage over the field for the overall and Pro category victory.
Teammate D. Bryce Miller joined the team following a successful crowd funding campaign led by online web series GNARPM, where Miller, deemed “Pro Bro,” serves as a driving instructor. Out of a race car as a competitive driver for four years after winning a national championship, Miller stayed in a podium position for nearly all of the 50-minute race. After a last lap pass, he would settle for fourth position in the ProAm class.
“It was a great battle at the start with Edoardo,” said Antinucci. “I’m so stoked to be back with Change Racing so a big thanks to the team, it’s a perfect start. I have a lot of experience but not a lot of practice this year so I’m happy with the result. The hardest part was that I pushed pretty hard at the start and probably got more out of the tires than some of my competitors. I’ll start on pole tomorrow but we’ve seen what can happen at the start so we’ll have to have a good one, and then take the fight to them for all 50 minutes.”
“That really felt good, at least for the first stint!” smiled Miller. “But the heat started to get to me in the second half of the race. I haven’t been in a car for a while and though I’ve been training hard, it’s not the same as driving. I’ve gotten comfortable being around a group of cars again. I drove a clean raceand brought the car home in one piece, so I’m happy. It’s great being with Change Racing, they are the most professional outfit out there. They’ve done a great job coaching me back into this so big thanks to them, and to the GNARPM.com guys. It’s been an incredible ride so far.”
“We were fortunate enough to win the opening round last year as well, and that’s always a good way to start a new season,” said Change Racing team principal Robby Benton. “It’s great for our heritage that we’ve won and earned a pole position in each of the five seasons that the series has been in North America. We do this because we enjoy it, and to support Lamborghini, but our main reason is to bring up young drivers, like Corey (Lewis) and Jeroen (Mul) who are in our GTD car now. We knew we had a good hand today with our starting position and Richard’s experience in this car. It’s heartbreaking to see Bryce (Miller) fall out of a podium spot on the final lap – to earn a podium in his first race in four years would have been a good shot in the arm for him. But, we know he’ll come back strong tomorrow, as will Ritchie (Antinucci). It’s a lot of fun for us and a good place to give drivers and mechanics experience for the next level.”
In the run-up to qualifying for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Round 4, drivers Jeroen Mul and Monster Energy Athlete Corey Lewis made steady progress through three practice sessions – which varied from hot and humid to cool, dry and windy – to find a balanced setup that would translate to a competitive race car. With Lewis’ quick lap of 2:07.757-seconds a mere three-hundredths of a second behind a fellow Lamborghini, the team knows they have what it takes to find that breakthrough victory.
“It was a great effort all around from the Change Racing guys,” said Lewis. “Obviously, we’re balancing the positives and negatives around this track. It will be interesting to see what guys around us will be able to maintain over a full stint. But we have a very good race car: the car is very consistent and balanced, so it’s easy to replicate each lap, even on this wide-open Formula One track. Times are extremely tight in the GTD class, with only three-hundredths of a second between us and our fellow Lamborghini ahead of us so it’s going to be difficult tomorrow – managing the heat and the tires and keeping the car underneath us will be key.”
“We were satisfied with qualifying, even though I don’t think this is necessarily the best suited track for our car, especially with the current BoP ” said Benton. “But we were pleased with qualifying, being only three-hundredths out of third. We feel we’ve exhausted everything we could do to find pace, but we’ve qualified in the top four in the past three races so we’ve made improvements from last year. As racers, we want to be the best. But there are many other teams that would gladly swap places with us right now I think. We’re a lot closer but we have a bit more work to do to bring it home. First and foremost, we have to execute perfectly tomorrow, as this is the kind of track that can bite you. It’s a very long pit lane so a penalty likely takes you out of contention. We might not have the raw pace but we might sneak up on it through strategy.”
The Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown at Circuit of the Americas will take the green flag at 2:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, with live coverage on IMSA.tv and broadcast coverage on FS1 at 7:00 p.m. ET.
About: Founded in 2013 by successful real estate developer and Lamborghini Carolinas CEO Eddie Littlefield and RAB Racing NASCAR team owner Robby Benton, Change Racing quickly established itself as a championship caliber team in IMSA Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo competition.
After earning Team and Driver Championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015, the team grew in 2016 to also campaign in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship with the Lamborghini Huracàn GT3 in GT Daytona (“GTD”) Class competition. The team enters 2017 with a promising young driver line up with Corey Lewis and Jerome Mul sharing the driving duties on the No. 16 Monster Energy / XBOX / Forza / Windows 10/ Pertamina Lamborghini Huracàn GT3. ChangeRacing will also make its 5th consecutive Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo campaign as the team looks to extend its record of achievement in the category.