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Pro-Am title goes to Schandorff and Au; McGee/McIntosh prevail in Am as Abkhazava wins LB Cup
In front of a weekend crowd of over 10,000 spectators, the 10th edition of the Lamborghini World Finals crowned its winners at the Autodromo Vallelunga Piero Taruffi and unveiled the date and venue for the next event in 2024.
A record 82 cars [beating the previous record of 65 at Portimão last season] were entered for the traditional end-of-year event of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo season, with BDR Competition’s Amaury Bonduel taking the Pro title with victory in the opening 50-minute race and third in Sunday’s finale. In Pro-Am, Target Racing’s Alex Au picked up his first World Finals title alongside Frederik Schandorff who became a two-time winner.
Super Trofeo North America combination Anthony McIntosh and Glenn McGee were crowned Am champions with a victory and third place. Meanwhile, in the Lamborghini Cup category, ArtLine Racing’s Shota Abkhazava claimed the title by just one point from US RaceTronics’ Jonathan Hirshberg.
During Saturday evening’s regional championship prizegiving ceremony, Jerez de la Frontera was announced as the venue for the next edition of the Lamborghini World Finals, which brings together all three regional Super Trofeo championships from Europe, North America and Asia. The Spanish circuit has already hosted the World Finals before, in 2019.
In a busy qualifying session where track position came at a premium, Bonduel laid down an ominous marker by taking pole by just under half a second from Lamborghini Roma by DL Racing’s Riccardo Ianniello. Off the start, Bonduel maintained his advantage with European Pro champion Brendon Leitch moving up to third ahead of Ianniello’s team-mate Luca Segù. That became second for Leitch as the Kiwi dived down the inside of Ianniello at turn 11 on the fourth lap. Further back, the #6 VSR of Mattia Michelotto was tagged at the hairpin by the #130 Ansa Motor Sports entry of Nico Jamin, dropping him to the rear of the field. Jamin was penalised 10-seconds for his part in the contact but eventually recovered to 11th at the finish. Bonduel remained in charge at the front, however, and extended his margin over Leitch to nearly three seconds before the pit window opened. The safety car was then deployed due to contact between Giacomo Pollini (Imperiale Racing) and Ryan Norman (Wayne Taylor Racing). Michelotto then came into the pits at the beginning of the pit window, making the most of his lowly position and looked set to vault up the order. But the #6 car was handed a drivethrough penalty for jumping the red light at the end of the pit-lane, extinguishing its chances of a second World Finals crown. Bonduel kept his cool, though, and came home 1.1s clear of Leitch, who made a late overtake on the hugely impressive Loris Cabirou (CMR), who had gained multiple places due to the safety car intervention. Cabirou and team-mate Stéphane Tribaudini claimed their first overall podium of the year in third.
In Pro-Am, Frederik Schandorff and Alex Au came through the chaos to claim victory, beating the Iron Lynx combination of Emanuele Zonzini and Emanuel Colombini. Super Trofeo Asia’s Jonathan Cecotto took pole and led for half a lap before a wild moment on the approach to turn four sent him down the order. After the safety car, the Scuderia Villorba Corse entry of Michael Blanchemain led the way but fell behind Schandorff in the second stint. Nigel Schoonderwoerd and Yelmer Buurman made late ground to complete the podium.
Bonduel started from the Pro pole and maintained his advantage over Cabirou and Leitch as the field raced towards the first corner. Further back, Slade Stewart’s unicorn-liveried Flying Lizard Motorsports entry crashed on the approach to turn four, which brought out the safety car. Pro-Am polesitter Schandorff led Spinelli at the restart, pulling away to the tune of nearly three seconds before the pit window opened. After the stops, Oliver Söderström – who, along with Target Racing team-mate Largim Ali, achieved their first Super Trofeo race win in round six – assumed the lead but struggled to get by Lewandowski into second. That allowed Segù – having taken over from team-mate Federico Scionti – to overtake with just three minutes left following a safety car intervention caused by the Oregon Team car of Lorenzo Pegoraro. Segù held on to claim the victory ahead of Söderström and Ali, but third was enough for Bonduel to be crowned. Leitch, Bonduel’s only realistic rival for the title could only manage fifth at the end after coming under pressure from both VSR Huracáns of Artem Petrov and Michelotto.
The Pro-Am battle was fierce from the start as Schandorff was hounded by Spinelli in the early stages, the pair separated by just a few tenths. The #81 Target Racing Huracán moved clear at the stops, with Au given some respite in the final laps when Lewandowski was turned around by VSR team-mate Michelotto – who was penalised five seconds – at turn eight. Au finished sixth overall but well clear of the Imperiale Racing duo of Matteo and Giacomo Pollini and TPC Racing’s Shehan Chandrasoma and Nikko Reger.
Amaury Bonduel (#28 BDR Competition), Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Finals winner said: “After the fifth round [last weekend] I could not imagine winning the World Finals, against so many drivers with so much experience, it is an unbelievable feeling.”
Pro-Am champion Alex Au (#81 Target Racing) said: “After the European series disappointment where we basically sacrificed four races, learning how to drive around here and how to deal with all the safety car restarts really paid off for us.”
Team-mate Frederik Schandorff added: “It was such a cool race, starting from pole and having Loris [Spinelli] on my ass all the time and I could just see that I was starting to beat him up a little bit, making a tenth or two tenths every lap because I knew that we had the pace win. I just needed to get a good distance so that he couldn’t pull off a crazy move on me because they had everything to gain, and we had everything to lose.”
A 40-car grid disputed the pair of combined Am/LB Cup races, with the opening 50-minute encounter producing one of the most dramatic races of the Vallelunga week. Autovitesse’s Julien Piguet got the jump on the polesitting Precision Performance Motorsport’s Huracán of Glenn McGee and led into the first corner. It wasn’t long before the first of three safety car interventions, as Asian competitor Zhilong Kang made contact with the Brutal Fish Racing car of Jason Keats, taking both out of the race. Piguet maintained his lead, but McGee leapt up to second with a sensational move around the outside of Ibrahim Badawy at turn four and began chasing Piguet for the lead. A lap later, McGee slid down the inside of the #63 at turn 11 and immediately made a break. Badawy’s attempt to wrestle back second place from Piguet ended abruptly as he sent the Frenchman spinning at turn eight, earning a 10-second penalty for his part in the contact. That elevated European champion Gabriel Rindone to second, but two more safety cars followed, leaving a late dash to the flag. In the end, McGee and McIntosh took the spoils from Rindone with the #60 VSR machine of Piergiacomo Randazzo and Giovanni Anapoli third.
The Lamborghini Cup win was decided at the final corner of the very last lap as leader Blake McDonald was spun around by the Ansa car of Kevin Madsen, handing victory to Forte Racing’s Mark Wilgus. Bonaldi Motorsport’s Paolo Biglieri led the early stages in a strong overall position, but in the hands of team-mate Petar Matić, the #32 slipped back to third after getting hit by the Asian entry of Johnson Huang at turn eight. McDonald looked set to claim the win, but it was Wilgus who inherited the victory, with Jonathan Hirshberg making it a North America one-two. RD Signs Racing Team’s Audrius Butkevicius completed the podium.
McGee and McIntosh started seventh for the second race on Sunday and held station during a frenetic opening few laps as Varutti led from Badawy and Madsen at the start. Madsen was then passed by the Asian entry of Changwoo Lee (SQDA – GRIT Motorsport) for third, but the Korean duo were forced out of the race with mechanical trouble before the pit-stops. Varutti handed over to Piguet, who duly held his nerve either side of a late safety car, in which Rindone coughed up his chance of winning the World Finals by sliding into the side of Grzegorz Moczulski’s GT3 Poland machine at turn 11. That left McGee in third at the restart with three minutes remaining and assured of the World Finals title. For McGee, it completes an impressive journey from esports to real racing, having been a sim racing world champion prior to making his debut in Lamborghini Super Trofeo at the start of this season.
In LB Cup, ArtLine Racing’s Shota Abkhazava started from pole and maintained his advantage over the chasing Doyle and McDonald. Race one winner Wilgus spent the early stages in sixth before moving up a position after the pit-stops to provisionally take the crown, but the US RaceTronics driver got caught up in an incident between his team-mate Ofir Levy and the Micánek Motorsport car of Kurt Wagner at turn 10, taking all three out of the race. This meant that Abkhazava held on – despite losing the lead to Doyle with two laps to go – to claim his first World Finals title.
Glenn McGee (#169 Precision Performance Motorsports) said post-race: “I remember being a kid and sitting on my couch driving against the world’s best sim drivers and only ever dreamed of doing the real thing. And to come up against these guys and become not only a sim racing world title holder and a real-world title holder is an incredible feeling.”
Team-mate Anthony McIntosh said: “It’s really amazing to represent the United States of America so we are very thankful and fortunate to be able to do that, I am just blessed to even be here. Thanks to Lamborghini and Precision Performance Motorsports and to my best buddy Glenn for training me up because he has made me into a racing driver this year.”
Shota Abkhazava, Lamborghini Cup winner (#75 ArtLine Racing) said: “It is a very important [achievement] for me as it is the final race of the season and this gives me such huge positivity, especially for next season. I hope to show even better results next season and I am looking forward to coming back.”