Three of the Four Classes Still to Settle the North American Championship before Taking on the World
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With their Pro class championship in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America already secured, Kyle Marcelli and Danny Formal have their sights set squarely on the ultimate prize this week: winning the Grand Finals crown against North American and European competitors gathered to close the 2022 season at Portimao, Portugal.
The Algarve International Circuit in Portimao plays host to a full week of racing that includes the final doubleheader round for the North American season followed by two races in each class to determine the Grand Finals champions. By winning five of the first 10 races thus far in the No. 1 Prestige Performance with Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo2, Marcelli and Formal have mathematically clinched the North American Pro class championship.
Now, instead of focusing on the two races on Friday that cap off the North American schedule, they’ll use those races and the practice and qualifying sessions ahead of them to be best prepared for the Grand Finals races that take place Saturday and Sunday.
“We’re going to minimize the track time in practice just to sort of save our equipment,” Marcelli explained. “We’re going to take very little risk in the North American races and be flat out in the (Grand Final) races. That’s the goal is just to win those.”
That’s not to say the duo won’t take time to enjoy their North American championship in what Formal termed “probably the most competitive year ever” for the Pro class.
“We had five drivers in there that could win a race, four people that were already Pro champions before, two drivers that were world champions before, so it was probably the hardest, the most competitive Lamborghini season ever,” said Formal, the 26-year-old native of Costa Rica. “To win it how we won it is just fantastic.”
Both drivers agreed that the foundation for the 2022 title run was laid following the adversity faced in the middle of their first season together last year. Marcelli crashed in a race at Watkins Glen, with the car sustaining significant damage forcing them to miss the second race of the weekend. The team regrouped, rebuilt and rebounded to win three of the last four races of the season.
“The car wasn’t really reacting too well before (the crash),” Formal said. “After we changed the front of the car, it definitely woke up the car. We found a really good baseline. Now, the car comes out of the trailer and it’s ready to go attack and be competitive right away, and we just have to fine-tune it.”
Along with developing a similar driving style that makes it easier to set up the car comfortably for both, the drivers have developed a close friendship. Marcelli will be the best man at Formal’s wedding in April. But that celebration can wait. First up is the quest for the Grand Finals championship that begins Tuesday with testing on the Algarve circuit as they dial in the No. 1 Huracán.
“We just want to go there to learn the car, learn the setup we want for the Grand Finals,” Formal said, “so we can just take those two North American races as practice and then try to make the car just a rocket ship for the two Grand Finals races.”
While the Pro championship is decided in the North American series, titles in the other three classes remain up for grabs.
Bryson Lew and John Dubets have won four straight Pro-Am races in the No. 46 Precision Performance Motorsports (PPM), Lamborghini Palm Beach Huracán to take an 11-point lead over teammates Bryan Ortiz and Sebastian Carazo in the No. 47 Huracán.
In the Am class, David Staab and Nikko Reger (No. 48 PPM Huracán) are just four points ahead of Shehan Chandrasoma (No. 19 MCR racing, Lamborghini Austin Huracán). And in LB Cup, Slade Stewart has the No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports, Lamborghini Newport Beach Huracán, which features a pink unicorn, nine points up on Ofir Levy and Jon Hirshberg in the No. 13 O’Gara Motorsport/Change Racing/US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Rancho Mirage Huracán.
Qualifying for the North American races takes place Thursday, with the races starting at 7 a.m. and 1:50 p.m. ET Friday. On Saturday, the Grand Finals Am and LB Cup race starts at 10:45 a.m., with the Pro/Pro-Am race rolling off at 12:05 p.m. The Grand Finals races Sunday start at 8 a.m. (Am/LB Cup) and 10:50 a.m. (Pro/Pro-Am).