Monrovia, California (Tuesday, September 11, 2018) – Mark Proto and Parris Mullins’ second-place finish on Sunday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was enough to lock up the 2018 LSTNA LB Cup Championship. The duo finished on the podium in every race this season with wins in five of the ten contests. Securing the championship in Laguna Seca was even more special as both drivers had a large contingent of friends and family in attendance at the historic road course.
“So even though we got a second-place finish today as opposed to our win yesterday, I couldn’t be happier,” Mark Proto said Sunday. “Locking up the championship before the World Finals is a big load off our minds. We had a lot of guests this weekend and I’m happy that we were able to have them with us when we locked it up. A huge thanks to the team, my co-driver Parris, and my driver coach Conrad Grunewald. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this season and next year brings.”
When asked about his feelings about winning the championship at Laguna Seca, Mullins replied, “It couldn’t have been a better place to win. This is my home track. My dad was here, and my friends were here. I can’t exactly drag them out to Mid-Ohio or Virginia. I had great support in the stands and it felt good. Mark did a great job and I did the best I could, and it feels great to walk away from here with the championship.”
Team owner Shane Seneviratne was thrilled for the drivers of the No. 88 Lamborghini of La Jolla. “I want to say congratulations to Mark and Parris. They’ve done a really good job all season and were able to secure their championship with two races still to go. I’m really proud of them. They’ve been focused since the start of the season and that paid off for them today, so congratulations to them.”
Damon Ockey made his way back to the top step of the podium on Sunday with a win in the AM class. The win, along with the two points he received for pole positions in both races, kept the driver of the No. 09 Lamborghini of Calgary within striking distance of the championship. Ockey now looks to the final two races in Italy.
“The race went a lot better today than yesterday,” Ockey said Sunday afternoon. “I’m pretty happy. I started on pole and finished first which helped with the championship points. I think I’m still behind a bit, so now we’ll have to see what happens in Italy.”
Meanwhile the team’s newest drivers, Pippa Mann and Mark Hedlund, had the best finish of the day for the team. The Pro-Am co-drivers both had impressive stints to bring the No. 63 Lamborghini of Beverly Hills Huracan home in fourth-place overall and second in their class.
“It was definitely a tough start to the race for the Bell Techlogix / AQUAHydrate / Shift Up Now No. 63 US RaceTronics car,” Mann said after Sunday’s race. “But then as things unfolded and I got into some clean air I was able to turn some pretty quick lap times. Mike just did a fantastic job when he got in the car for the second stint. Fourth overall is my best result yet in this series and I’m really grateful to all the sponsors who allowed me to come out and race this weekend, to US RaceTronics for preparing such a great car, and to Mike for coming out and sharing the car with me and just rocking his part of the deal.”
“We started the weekend strong and I’m happy to say we finished the weekend strong,” Hedlund added. “Both myself and Pippa, we were very consistent, we were quick, we stayed out of trouble, and we were able to get a good result on Sunday with a second-place in class and a fourth overall. For our first weekend together, I don’t think we could have done much better. It would have been nice to win, but I’m very satisfied with how the weekend turned out. The team is very resourceful, very professional and it was just a really good experience, a really good weekend and I’m happy that we were able to get some hardware for the team. Our thoughts are still with Sheena Monk who we heard is doing better. Hopefully she recovers quickly, and we see her at the track again soon.”
Brian Thienes fought hard to bring the No. 17 Thienes Engineering Lamborghini of Beverly Hills car home for a third-place finish after having some contact on the first lap of the race.
“It was a disappointing result after yesterday’s win,” Thienes said, “but overall it was good to come away with points. It was an overall good weekend in spite of the setbacks that we had. I can’t complain about my first-place finish yesterday and my third-place finish today was pretty good in light of being punted off the track at the start of the race. I’m looking forward to the World Finals in Italy.”
The No. 50 Lamborghini of Beverly Hills was also involved in a first lap incident. Taylor Proto and Edoardo Piscopo however were not as fortunate as Thienes. Proto was able to get the damaged car back to the pit where the crew worked feverishly to repair it before the pit window closed. Despite getting the driver change done inside the pit window, the pair was unable to complete the full 75% of the laps necessary to score points. The pair now heads to the final two rounds of the championship seven points behind Corey Lewis and Madison Snow.
“Same old story as yesterday,” Taylor Proto said. “I only got to drive one lap. Unfortunately, we had issues with some cars trying to make three-wide work in a two-wide corner and someone got pushed wide. Sadly, they came back across the track and took us out. Really, the spotlight isn’t on the drivers today, it’s on the crew. They did an absolutely amazing job getting the car back working. I think we had a snapped damper and snapped control arm among other things and the team did an amazing job to remedy this by the pit window meaning we were able to try to finish the race and get valuable points. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get in the minimum number of laps we needed, but we’re going to head to Italy knowing that our three wins in the last three events still gives us a great shot at the championship.”
“It’s a shame what happened,” Piscopo added. “It wasn’t my co-driver’s fault. It was unfortunate that Taylor was hit in Race 2 at the start but there was nothing he could have done to avoid the contact. We are still in strong shape and we will go to my home track in Rome fighting until the end.”
Seneviratne was proud of his team’s overall performance in the final weekend on North American soil.
“It was a good weekend overall,” Seneviratne said. “We had a little bit of bad luck with the No. 50 car getting hit but what an amazing job the crew did. They replaced an arm and a damper and a few other suspension parts to get Edoardo and Taylor back out. We made the repair in time to do the driver-change in the window and take the checkered flag. Hats off. I’m really proud of how prepared the crew was and what they accomplished.”
“I’m really happy for Damon,” Seneviratne added. “He’s had a couple of bad races and I’m very happy that he finished strong and was able to win the race. Brian and Pippa made slight contact at the beginning of the race. Pippa got pushed into Brian because someone was trying to go three-wide but that was purely a racing incident. Brian recovered from it and drove to get a third-place, so that was good. I was really impressed with Pippa Mann and Mike Hedlund. I’m really glad they were able to come and join our team and that we were able to get to know them and they were able to get to know the team. I’m excited that we had two second-place finishes with them. Good results for them and overall I think they did really well. In the second race that car carried the team and dealership for us because it was the highest finishing car, so a bit thanks to them for doing that. I hope to work with them again in the near future. Now we have a big project ahead with getting everything packed up and off to Vallelunga. I’m really looking forward to the last two rounds and the World Finals. Thanks again to the crew for an amazing job. I added a fifth car at the last minute and they accepted the challenge and performed well.”
The team’s final two races of the LSTNA Championship and the World Finals will take place November 15-18 in Vallelunga, Italy. The races will be streamed live at http://squadracorse.lamborghini.com/en-en/live-streaming and http://imsatv.imsa.com/.