Ortiz and Carazo win Pro-Am title, while Lewandowski and Semoulin siblings take Am/LB Cup titles
Ansa Motorsports’ Nelson Piquet Jr ensured the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Grand Finals title returned to North America for the first time since 2017 after taking a win and a second place across the pair of 50-minute races at the Autodromo Nacionale do Algarve in Portimão.
Meanwhile, the Pro-Am title went right down to the wire as Precision Performance Motorsports’ Bryan Ortiz and Sebastian Carazo became the first all-Puerto Rican line-up to win the Grand Finals, doing so in dramatic fashion after finishing level on points with Bryson Lew and John Dubets.
VS Racing’s Andrzej Lewandowski took his second Grand Final triumph, adding the Am title to his Pro-Am success he achieved with Karol Basz in 2019, while Belgian siblings Benoît and François Semoulin clinched the Lamborghini Cup crown for Semspeed.
Grand Finals winner in the Pro category Nelson Piquet Jr (#130 Ansa Motorsports) said: “It’s amazing to win the title but it definitely wasn’t an easy race. I asked my engineer to bleed the tyre pressures a bit more at the pit-stop, but it wasn’t enough, so I was struggling in the second stint. I saw [Wayne Taylor Racing’s] Danny [Formal] coming and I was a bit worried because he might have tried something because he had nothing to lose. I knew that second would have been enough to win the title, but you always want to do it by winning the race.”
Piquet dominates both races to take Pro title, as Dubets and Lew crowned Pro-Am champions
Having taken pole position on Saturday morning, Piquet made the best start and led from Basz (Micanek Motorsport) who got a superb getaway to leapfrog Spinelli as the field charged towards turn one. A number of contenders started further down the grid after receiving penalties in qualifying for abusing track limits, most notably the third-placed qualifier Patrick Kujala – running as a solo driver in the US RaceTronics/O’Gara Motorsports/Change Racing car. Others to be penalised wasthe Wayne Taylor Racing partnership of Kyle Marcelli and Formal and the Iron Dames wildcard entry of Doriane Pin and Michelle Gatting.
Formal was forced into the pits with a puncture after contact with Pin at turn 14, with the #83 Iron Dames Huracán retiring soon after. Spinelli reclaimed second place from Basz with a move on the inside of the final turn and quickly set about chasing down Piquetforthe lead. The battle wasintense as Piquet valiantly fended offseveral assaultsfrom the Bonaldi Motorsport driver. The pair ran sideby-side multiple times after Spinelli tried to drive around the outside at turn five, but eventually Spinelli took the lead with a sensational move around the outside of turn 13. The safety car then came out after Jean-François Brunot stopped on track, meaning Spinelli had to push after the restart. Piquet came into the pits two laps before Spinelli but fell behind the Target Racing car of Milan Teekens and Marzio Moretti, which eventually dropped to third by the finish after receiving a five-second track limits penalty.
In Pro-Am, Precision Performance Motorsports’ Bryan Ortiz and Sebastian Carazo claimed a lastgasp victory after the #66 of Basz and Bromek Formanek suffered contact from Luke Berkeley’s Taurino Racing by D Motorsport car. Antonin Borga and MotoGP star Dani Pedrosa secured a breakthrough maiden Super Trofeo class podium in second, while Leipert Motorsport’s Brendon Leitch and Gerhard Watzinger finished third after a hard-fought race through from the back of the grid.
At the start of race two, Piquet held onto his position at the head of the field, as Marcelli momentarily moved into second place at the expense of Kujala, although the US RaceTronics/O’Gara Motorsports/Change Racing machine reclaimed the place at turn three. Further back, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ashton Harrison tagged the rear of Oscar Lee’s Rexal FFF Racing Team Huracán, pitching it into a spin and subsequent contact with the #91 Bonaldi Motorsport car of Pietro Perolini. Piquet continued to increase his lead at the front over Kujala to nearly five seconds as the Ansa Motorsports’ driver’s main rival, Max Weering, worked his way up to 12th from 15th on the grid.
Along with the Iron Dames car of Michelle Gatting, Weering was among the first drivers to make their compulsory pit-stop at the start of the pit window, swapping with Spinelli. With many of the quicker drivers in the Pro-Am field starting the race, the likes of Brendon Leitch, Patrick Liddy, Antonin Borga and Bryan Ortiz stayed out the longest before coming into the pits. Piquet remained in front after the stops but Formal, who had taken over from Marcelli had moved into second ahead of Kujala who dropped behind the Target Racing car of Teekens and Moretti. Making progress through the field was Spinelli – having taken the commands of the #61 – and the European Pro champion passed North American team-mate Giano Taurino and the Iron Dames entry of Doriane Pin, finishing fifth overall at the end.
In Pro-Am, the situation changed several times during the race as Leitch (Leipert Motorsport) held the lead early on after qualifying fourth on the grid. He switched over to Watzinger at the stops, but the American slipped down the order – not helped by a five-second track limits penalty. That enabled the North American entries of Lew/Dubets to take the race win, but it was not enough to take the title. They finished level on points with Carazo and Ortiz, but Ortiz’s fastest lap earlier in the race was the deciding factor and the duo beta their PPM team-mates to the crown.
Bryan Ortiz, Pro-Am champion (#147 Precision Performance Motorsports) said: “We came very close on points in the North American championship but couldn’t quite take the win, and then we shifted our focus to the Grand Finals. Yesterday we were able to win the race, but today was a little bit more difficult. But luckily, we came out on top in the tie-break with our team-mates.”
Reflecting on his title triumph, Sebastian Carazo (#147 Precision Performance Motorsports) added: “It was honestly a very difficult year, with some great racing and great battles. But to win it with a fastest lap is amazing, a lot of work has gone into the weekend and to be able to represent Puerto Rico and be the first Puerto Rican duo to win the title means so much to us.”
Semoulins at the double as Lewandowski takes second Grand Finals win in Am
Ansa Motorsports’ Jordan O’Brien dominated the first qualifying session to take pole position by over six-tenths of a second and duly led the opening stint with ease. Behind, Gabriel Rindone (Leipert Motorsport) spun at turn two which dropped him to the rear of the field as VS Racing’s Andrzej Lewandowski leapt to third place after a late divebomb to the inside of North America Am champion Shehan Chandrasoma. The safety car was then deployed after Claude Senhoreti went off into the gravel on the opening lap, with O’Brien extending his margin in the lead upon resumption.
Dream Racing Motorsports’ Charlie Martin led the early going from pole in the Lamborghini Cup class, with the Rexal FFF Racing Team car of Donovan Privitelio in close pursuit. Privitelio got ahead of Martin to seize the class lead before the pit-stops and held onto it until the end of the race, but a converted drivethrough penalty meant he and his father, Luciano, were denied the victory. At the front of the field, O’Brien and Lewandowski both left it late before making their mandatory pitstops, with the latter getting the jump on the #199 car of O’Brien’s team-mate Ron Atapattu despite serving three second longer in the pits.
Now armed with a healthy lead out front, Lewandowski pressed home his advantage either side of a second safety carintervention. Autovitesse’s Cyril Leimertried to make a move on the #154 Dream Racing Motorsport Huracán of Jason Gagne-Keats but spun at turn 12 before getting hit in the rear by Bart Collins’ MCR Racing machine. Such was the disruption, the race was red flagged and not restarted with less than six minutes left to run. Lewandowski, therefore, was assured of the Am victory while Flying Lizard Motorsports’ “Sparklefarts” car of Slade Stewart picked up the LB Cup win after Privitelio’s penalty.
Reger and Staab started race two from pole and the former established a strong 4.792s lead over the chasing Lewandowski, who remained comfortable throughout in second place. While the opening encounter was marred by stoppages, this race was green from start to finish, despite a wild spin for Brutal Fish Racing’s Martin Ryba exiting turn eight. The #71 car speared across the track and hit the barrier, briefly continuing before eventually coming to a stop a few laps later.
Lewandowski closed the deficit to Staab after the pit-stops and made an audacious lunge down the inside of the leader at turn five in an attempt to seize the top spot. He ran wide on exit and then made slight contact with Staab at turn seven, which forced Staab onto the run-off area. Staab maintained his place at the top of the order and fended off a late assault by Lewandowski to take the win, Lewandowski doing more than enough to secure the Grand Finals crown.
In Lamborghini Cup, Sempseed’s Benoît and François Semoulin picked up their first-ever Grand Finals title with victory in the second race, getting ahead of European champion Gerard Van der Horst afterthe stops. Having won the first race, Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Slade Stewart was unable to repeat his performance and was third behind Van der Horst.
Andrzej Lewandowski, Am class Grand Finals winner (#60 VS Racing), said: “Today, I drove very carefully at the start and I also knew that I would win the title if I just finished second, so that was the plan at the end of the race. This is my second Grand Finals title after Pro-Am in 2019 so I am very happy, of course.”
Speaking about the Lamborghini Cup title, Benoît Semoulin (#26 Semspeed) said: “This is just a dream come true, we’re the smallest team in the championship and what we have achieved is just incredible. Today, we started sixth after a lap-time got deleted in qualifying, so it was a really hard race for us to manage. But we are so proud, and we want to thank everyone who made it possible.”
His brother, François Semoulin (#26 Semspeed), added: “It’s amazing, I have no words. We had some contact in both races which made it quite difficult, we weren’t sure if we had a puncture.
Things were bent but luckily, we were fine in the end.”
Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe - Calendar 2022
Round 1: Imola (Italy), 1-3 April
Round 2: Le Castellet (France), 3-5 June
Round 3: Misano (Italy), 1-3 July
Round 4: Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) 29-30 July
Round 5: Barcelona (Spain) 30 September-2 October
Round 6: Portimão (Portugal), 3-4 November
Grand Finals 2022: Portimão (Portugal), 5-6 November