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Super Trofeo Stories: Kiko Porto

23 April 2024

If you look down the annals of motor racing folklore, Brazil is perhaps one of the best exporters of natural talent. The country has also produced a number of successful Lamborghini Super Trofeo drivers too, and one of its rising stars seems to be continuing that trend in 2024.

Just over a week before he claimed his first-ever one-make series race win on debut at the season opener at Sebring International Raceway, Ansa Motorsports’ driver Kiko Porto had not even sat in a Super Trofeo Huracán, let alone race one.

And yet, such was the raw speed delivered by the 20-year-old from Rucife, he was only denied a clean sweep of the Florida weekend by a technical issue in the closing stages of race two.

Despite his age, Porto has demonstrated his ability and prowess behind the wheel in both open wheel racing and now, GTs. Having climbed up the formula car ladder in the United States, he’s now setting his sights on forging a longer-term career in endurance racing and sees Lamborghini as the ideal brand with which to partner.

“I started go-karting in 2012 when I was eight years-old,” says Porto. “But I didn’t have so many opportunities to race as I was raised in the north-east of Brazil where there aren’t many tracks like in São Paulo.

“And then in 2017, we started to race internationally, including some races in the WSK, one of the biggest karting championships in Europe. After that, we kind of made the decision to follow the Road to Indy, and I went into Formula 4 United States and US F2000 and then Indy NXT. In Formula 4, we had a bit of a problem because I could only do the full season if I had turned completely 15 years-old by August, so I had to do half the season instead.

“The plan after finishing second in the Indy Pro series last year was to do it again, but then I got a call from Ansa Motorsports, explaining all the background from Lamborghini and what it means, and I kind of got addicted to the idea.”

Porto is someone with a cool, professional head, almost as if he was born to race at the highest level. His time learning the ropes in the US has moulded him into a driver who is methodical and meticulous.

This approach was no better demonstrated than during the off-season after his deal to partner Jamin in the #4 Ansa Motorsports entry ahead of the 2024 campaign.

“I got to learn about the car, looked at about 20 different onboards and I really understood how Lamborghini organises the programme and how much this means to new talents starting in motorsports.

“So, I came here with Nico Jamin, who is very experienced, and I am still learning all the time even though I got the pole position for race two and won the first race, I am always learning about the car and the racing.

“I need to come to the races, kind of forgetting all the races I won before, arrive with an open mind about the races, learning more about the car and everything. And that has really helped me get up to speed so far with the Super Trofeo car, just taking it as a completely new challenge and not trying to compare it to any single seater car I drove before.

“We won good things on the Road to Indy ladder, and I was kind of making my name there, and then I sort of had a change of approach towards GTs. I am really liking this kind of racing; I did one invitational race in Brazil last year, but I was not involved in the development and setup side. It has really opened my eyes about the GT side, not just in IMSA but also in Europe and around the world. The connection with the teams is something that I really, really appreciate on this pathway, and I feel really at home in this series.”

The resume makes for some pretty good reading. After making his US open wheel debut in Formula 4 in 2019 where he finished runner-up, he moved up to the US F2000 National ranks in 2021, becoming champion with four victories. Two seasons of Indy Pro 2000 followed, with another runner-up finish in 2023.

Having shone on the open wheel scene, the switch to GT racing may well have come across as a surprise to many. Indeed, moving from one type of car to a Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2, complete with 560hp with a top-speed higher than that of a GT3 car, has caused adaptation issues for many GT converts, but not Porto.

“I tried to forget the emotions about the whole thing,” explains the Brazilian. “With the jump to the GT car, I went there with an open mind. With a formula car, you go there with a certain driving style and technique but with the Super Trofeo car, I just drove it and found out what it needed from me, setup wise and driving style wise.

“So, I forgot about any expectations and just learnt from the car. If I did P1 in practice, forget this, I need to show my potential and my ability in qualifying.”

And it was in qualifying that Porto really showcased his potential, setting the fastest time overall to take pole position for the second race of the weekend. Both he and Jamin started race one from fourth on the grid, with their pace strong enough to emerge in the overall lead after the mandatory pit-stops.

From there, it was a case of fending off the sister #30 car of Loris Cabirou and Bryson Morris to record victory on debut, something they did by a matter of tenths at the finish – Cabirou and Morris subsequently received a 10-second penalty for a jump-start and then a further penalty relegating the #30 to the back of the Pro field.

A second victory looked on the cards from pole in race two, but Jamin encountered a technical problem with around 10 minutes left, forcing them to finish fourth at the end. Despite this minor setback, Jamin and Porto left their first weekend together second in the standings, just a point behind TR3 Racing’s Giano Taurino and Ernie Francis Jr.

The professional approach is not just limited to the racetrack itself. As a Brazilian, the continuing impact of the late Ayrton Senna, a three-time Formula 1 world champion, has helped his mental game as much as his driving.

“Senna was kind of the first guy to really introduce the physical preparation for racing”, says Porto. “So, as a healthy habit, don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol, not eating bad food, exercise a lot…all these things are really important.

“And he didn’t just put a lot of effort in when he was in the car, but also out of the car and this is something I really admire in Senna and it’s something that a lot of people forget about. This approach kind of gave him two-tenths, three-tenths per lap at the end of the race.

“I understood quickly how much Senna meant to a lot of Brazilians. And with this research, talking with other people, I understood that he was much more than just a really good driver, but he was a symbol for the country and showed that Brazilians can conquer a lot of things in the world. I try to do basically what worked for him, obviously adapting to my situation and I try to do the good things he taught everybody.”

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