Past Champions Loris Spinelli and Richard Antinucci Split Honors for Doubleheader
By Mark Robinson
ALTON, Va. – Winning experience at VIRginia International Raceway played a role in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America qualifying on Saturday, even if it’s been a while since the two pole winners had competed at the 3.27-mile road course.
Loris Spinelli and Richard Antinucci claimed qualifying honors and will lead the field to green in Race 1 and Race 2, respectively, on Sunday. Each driver is a two-time series champion and past winner at VIR, but Spinelli returned to Lamborghini Super Trofeo this year for the first time since 2018 and Antinucci is back after sitting out 2020.
Spinelli took the overall and ProAm class pole in the first qualifying session, cut in half by a red-flag stoppage. Antinucci qualified second for Race 1, then picked up the pace in qualifying for Race 2, turning the fastest overall lap to secure Pro class pole points for both of Sunday’s races (8 a.m. and 4:35 p.m. ET) that will stream live on IMSA.com, NBC Sports Gold TrackPass and Lamborghini.com.
Spinelli, sharing the No. 51 Taurino Racing, Lamborghini Palm Beach Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO with Claude Senhoreti, turned a lap of 1 minute, 45.994 seconds (111.062 mph) six minutes into the 15-minute qualifier for the first race. Less than two minutes later, Nelson Piquet Jr. (No. 13 Ansa Motorsports, Lamborghini Broward Huracán) slid off course and into the tire barrier in Turn 3 to bring out the red flag. The track safety crew was unable to clean up the incident before time expired.
“I’m so happy to be back here in America with a new team,” said Spinelli, the 2017 and ’18 Lamborghini Super Trofeo ProAm champion both in North America and Europe. He won both VIR ProAm races in 2018 with co-driver JC Perez.
“I feel really good with this track, the whole track here in America, it’s like my size,” Spinelli added. “Up, down, so aggressive. I’m so happy.”
The Race 2 qualifying session was clean throughout. Antinucci, the 2015 and ’19 North American Pro champion who won the first race of this year’s season-opening round at Circuit of The Americas, posted the top lap (1:45.949, 111.109 mph) with seven minutes left in the No. 27 Dream Racing Motorsport, Lamborghini Las Vegas Huracán and wasn’t overtaken.
Antinucci was appreciative IMSA arranged an extra practice earlier Saturday after Friday’s two sessions were hindered by wet conditions and incidents. It allowed Dream Racing to home in on a winning setup.
“You’d think, well, Richy’s done three seasons in the series, won two championships, 15 races and 40 years old with experience, but no, I needed the track time just as much as anyone else,” Antinucci said in self-evaluation. “Every day is different on a track; imagine being a couple years away. We weren’t dialed in yesterday, but we got super dialed in this morning.”
By earning a point for each class pole position, Antinucci unofficially closed within three points of Pro leader Stevan McAleer (No. 16 Change Racing, Lamborghini Charlotte Huracán).
“I was just happy to get some points today and that was really, really good work by the team,” Antinucci said. “Our second weekend together, I’m proud of these guys and thankful to be a part of it.”
Other class pole winners were: in ProAm, Bryan Ortiz (No. 46 Precision Performance Motorsports, Lamborghini Palm Beach Huracán) for Race 2; in Am, Trevor Andrusko (No. 38 TPC Racing, Lamborghini Sterling Huracán) in Race 1 and Luke Berkeley (No. 23 Dream Racing Motorsport, Lamborghini Broward Huracán) for Race 2; and in LB Cup, Michael Mennella (No. 4 MCR racing, Lamborghini Miami Huracán) for Race 1 and Matt Dicken (No. 36 Change Racing, Lamborghini Charlotte Huracán) in Race 2.