Newly crowned Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe champion Dean Stoneman was not even supposed to be racing this year, which makes his surge to the title one of the most impressive in the 12-year history of the one-make championship.
A decade ago, the British driver stood on the verge of a burgeoning Formula 1 career, having defeated future F1 driver Jolyon Palmer to the Formula 2 title. Since then, his battles have been considerably tougher: diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011, Stoneman beat that; he also beat budget concerns to get back into the upper echelons of single seater racing.
And just when he thought it might be over again, he secured his second major international title 10 years after his first.
We caught up with the new champion, who relived his season in refreshingly candid fashion.
Firstly, how does it feel to be Super Trofeo Europe champion for 2020?
It feels amazing to have won the title after a bit of an up-and-down season. The year was a real learning curve for me as well; I’ve driven a lot of cars throughout my career, but this year it was really enjoyable and nice to wrap up the title at the last event. It’s crazy, you go through five race weekends and it’s only at the last race that everything is decided.
There were several times where you could have won even more but didn’t, do you have any regrets about these races?
Yeah, that’s right. In Barcelona, we had the pace to win both races, but we got a penalty in both of them. The second one, when I was driving, was my mistake with the pit-lane speed-limiter. The limiter doesn’t trigger until you’re at 48kph, which isn’t normally the case with other cars where it triggers once you go below the maximum speed limit. It was just one of those things really, a mistake, it happens. We should have wrapped the championship up sooner than we did but at the end of the day, I did what I needed to do at Paul Ricard
You had some more trouble with the pit-lane speed limiter in France, didn’t you?
Well, the dashboard in the car wasn’t working, so I had no idea what speed I was doing and what speed I needed to get down to, and then I didn’t know when I should leave the box because the timer wasn’t there. We lost some time there, plus the fact that as a solo driver, we were stationary for three seconds longer than the #2 car.
I came in a couple of seconds ahead of them and came out three seconds behind, so it was unfortunate. But in the end, it all worked out. I passed the #9 car [Kevin Rossel] which I didn’t have to, I could have just let the others past. But I’m a racer and I still wanted to win.
How did the deal to race Super Trofeo this season come about?
I got a call from Marco [Bieli] from Bonaldi Motorsport at the start of the year and he asked me if I wanted to test the car
What have you enjoyed the most about Lamborghini Super Trofeo this year?
You know what? It’s been a great experience and the environment at the circuits has been great. Even though this year has been a bit different, with COVID and everything, even the hospitality, it’s been relaxed and very friendly, which has been great. A lot of the times when I was racing before, there was nothing like this and there was a lot of stress and pressure. Here, although the pressure is just as high on the track, the atmosphere is a lot more welcoming so that has been the real positive off track for me.
And the cars are really fun to drive as well, even though they are in some cases, the toughest. Not so much physically, but tough to get a good lap-time out of. You can easily shave a second off your time, but to find the last half a second or tenth of a second, is really difficult. You can push like crazy in them but finding that last fraction is almost impossible!
But the racing has been fun this year too. Really close and fair, not all the time but most of the time! It’s been a quality grid this season, so the racing has been very respectful for the most part.
What is next for you?
Hopefully more of the same! I’m in discussions with some sponsors but it’s the age-old thing of understanding how deep your pockets are and how much money you have got. I would like to do the championship again next year, experience the World Finals and maybe get back in a GT3 car as well. We’ll see.