Alton, Virginia (Sunday, August 19, 2018) – Edoardo Piscopo and Taylor Proto returned to the winner’s circle for the second time in as many races in the No. 50 Lamborghini of Beverly Hills, taking sole possession of first-place in the PRO championship. Brian Thienes got his first win of the season in the No. 17 Lamborghini of Beverly Hills, while Parris Mullins and Mark Proto brought home another win in the No. 88 Lamborghini of La Jolla. Damon Ockey was leading the AM class in the No. 09 Lamborghini of Calgary but experienced problems during the pitstop that dropped him out of contention for this race.
The duo of Piscopo and Taylor Proto started second but dropped back to fourth due to unfavorable conditions for the car’s setup early in the race. Piscopo stayed competitive while keeping the car safe hoping the track would dry which it did. Once the team switched to slick tires and the track finished drying, Proto was able to close the gap and take over first-place with a daring move in lapped traffic.
“Very happy with the overall result,” Piscopo said after the race. “We came to VIR with a goal of repeating our win from Road America and we did. It was a tricky race with not easy conditions to start. We took a gamble by having a car that we knew was fast in dry conditions. The fact that the track dried out allowed us to be quickest in the second stint on the slicks. So overall it was a great strategy, great pitstop and tire change. We made no mistakes and that’s how you win a championship.”
“Today was really good,” Taylor Proto added. “It was definitely the worst conditions we’ve ever started a race in and it was very challenging strategy-wise with what we wanted to do. The team, first off, did an amazing job with the pitstop. They got the slicks on remarkably quick. It was really good for us because it put us up in a great position to run down the 71 for the lead. Edoardo did an amazing job. He kept the car in good shape especially with the conditions that were out there. We saw PRO cars spin. We saw everything that could have happened. It was really rough conditions and he did an amazing job just reacting to those. Then with the slick tires, it was a bit sketchy for the first two laps while the track was still drying, but then we were able to get some heat in them and start chasing down the No. 71 car. We had a bit of traffic and then had a little Mika Häkkinen, Michael Schumacher moment and I went on the inside and he went on the outside and then I just thought, might as well commit now. So, I took him into the esses, which is not a place you want to pass at this track, so I’m really happy to have 1. Gotten a really cool pass at a track that’s known for hard passing and 2. Getting the win that we got today. This puts us in a really good spot for the championship. I’m really excited about what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
The AM class had plenty of excitement as well. Brian Thienes started fourth in class but quickly moved into third-place in the first stint of the race. His team was flawless in the execution of their pitstop and tire change which put Thienes in a position to challenge for the lead in the second-half of the race. With some stellar driving, he was able to bring the No. 17 Lamborghini of Beverly Hills home for his first win of the 2018 season.
“It feels good to finally get a win today,” Thienes said. “Great job by US RaceTronics for putting together a great car and having a flawless pitstop. We had to change tires which challenged the crew to do something that they don’t normally do and they did an excellent job. I had to start from fourth-place, so I had to drive pretty hard to get through traffic to try and catch Damon (Ockey). He had gotten away from me in the rain but unfortunately for him he had a problem with his pitstop. I was able to make a pass for the lead after the pitstop and maintain it. Feels good to finally have a victory.”
Mark Proto started the race behind the wheel of the No. 88 Lamborghini of La Jolla in wet conditions. Proto drove a solid first stint of the race, keeping the car in the perfect position for Mullins to have a shot at taking the lead once their pitstop was complete. The pair now lead the LB Cup championship by 22 points.
“Another good race for us,” Mark Proto said. “We came in with the points lead. It was a tough race with the rain in the beginning and then drying. We got a little lucky with a solid pitstop. Parris had a great finish to the race. We won, so I couldn’t be happier.”
“Coming into this race we really didn’t expect the result that we got,” Mullins added. “The rain basically saved us. I think it changed everyone’s strategy including ours. It worked to our benefit. Our competitors in our class made some mistakes and we were able to capitalize on them. Mark did a great job. He kept the car out of trouble and we made the right choices. The team was just awesome getting a superior tire put on the car. I went out on slicks and was able to close the gap, make the pass and stay out in front. All I had to do at that point was stay out of trouble. It was awesome!”
Damon Ockey in the No. 09 Lamborghini of Calgary had a great first-half of the race, but experienced trouble in the pits which dropped him to the back of the field. While disappointed, Ockey understands that sometimes things like this happen and the only thing to do is to turn your focus to the next race.
“The start of the race was great,” Ockey said. “It was wet. I started P6 overall and P1 in class. I had a great, great first half of the race. I came into the pitstop 29 seconds ahead, but the team had trouble getting the rain tires off and going to slicks, so we came out behind and ended up P5. It was unfortunate, but sometimes these things happen. We’ll bounce back now. We’ve got a race tomorrow to look forward to.”
Team owner Shane Seneviratne was disappointed for Ockey, but happy for the other three cars. This was the first time this season that USRT drivers won all three of their classes in the same race.
“It’s such a bittersweet race for us,” Seneviratne said. “We had some bad luck with Damon. The team let him down. We made a mistake on his pitstop. He had a nice lead coming in, so we need to make it up to him tomorrow. But, all the other cars finished first in their respective classes, so I’m thrilled about that. I’m happy for everyone, especially for Taylor and Edo and then Brian. Brian won his first race of this year, a well-deserved win after the bad luck that he had at Road America. Mark and Parris drove a great race as well, bringing their car home for the win to give them a nice little cushion in the points lead. Looking forward to another race tomorrow. We just need to regroup as a team and focus on that race now.”
Race 2 goes green Sunday morning, August 19, 2018 at 10:25 a.m. ET.
and will be streamed live at http://squadracorse.lamborghini.com/en-en/live-streamingand http://imsatv.imsa.com/.