British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star Stuart Middleton made the perfect start to his maiden season in the one-make Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe with a stunning opening round victory over the weekend, 11th/12th May, at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit.
Graduating into GT3-level racing this year after two highly successful seasons in the ranks of GT4, winning the British GT4 title in 2017 and ending the 2018 GT4 European Series as Vice-Champion, the Ashington 19-year-old certainly turned heads throughout the Super Trofeo curtain-raiser.
Teaming with fellow Briton Jack Bartholomew at Italian team Bonaldi Motorsport, the duo sharing driving duties at the wheel of the No.32 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO, Middleton swept into the lead of race one during the closing stages to seal a fantastic victory. Third position in race two on Sunday means the duo departed the home of the British Grand Prix leading the championship.
“It’s been an awesome first weekend in the Super Trofeo, you can’t really argue with the results we’ve had at Silverstone – it’s been a hell of a way to start the season”, said Middleton, “I had no idea what to expect really coming into the weekend, especially with the experience some of the other drivers have, but it all turned out really well with a win and another podium.
“The Lamborghini is a world apart from what I’ve been used to the last couple of years with the GT4 Ginetta, it’s mid-engined and has a lot more power. It needs a different approach with the driving and I’ve found it is pretty sensitive to changes. The guys in the team know what they’re doing and are switched on, and it’s good having Jack as a team-mate with his Lamborghini experience.”
Bartholomew took the opening stint of Saturday’s race, having qualified the car fourth fastest, and at the rolling start he was edged back to fifth after running wide at Copse. Shuffled back to sixth soon after, the Bonaldi driver was determined to hit back and he did so to reclaim fifth.
When the pit stop window opened with half an hour to go, Bartholomew stayed on track and as rival squads served their mandatory stops he moved through into the lead of the race. Eventually pitting to hand over the Huracan to Middleton with 20 minutes left on the clock, the series rookie headed into the race in fifth before the Safety Car was deployed due to a stricken Lamborghini on track.
Bunching up the pack nicely, the action resumed with around 11 minutes to go and Middleton instantly set about making progress. Storming through into fourth place, he then set his sights on the podium and duly grabbed third position at The Loop with a fantastic move around the outside.
Reeling in the top two cars, Middleton closed significantly into the last five minutes of action before drama unfolded ahead. As the leaders battled at The Loop they made contact, enabling the teenager to gleefully sweep past into the lead. He went on to take the flag almost three seconds clear.
For race two on Sunday morning, North East Caravans, Steel & Jelly and Spine Optics backed racer Middleton started the encounter from second on the grid after producing a fantastic performance during his maiden Super Trofeo qualifying outing – lapping within 0.4 seconds of pole position.
At the rolling start Middleton unfortunately dropped to fourth but he quickly hit back to take third out of Copse – second in the Pro class. Running within 0.6 seconds of Alberto di Folco at the end of lap one, the gaps between the top three gradually opened up as the race progressed and with 35 minutes to go Middleton was roughly two seconds shy of second place.
Staying in touch with the leaders, while continuing to pull away from the chasing pack, he pitted to hand over the car to Bartholomew on lap 13 and he then entered the race with around 22 minutes left on the clock.
When the order settled Bartholomew held third, under major pressure from Vito Postiglione, but a dramatic spin for leader Davide Venditti at Becketts on his out-lap from the pits elevated Bartholomew into second. Working hard to soak up Postiglione’s relentless pressure, at Luffield on lap 16 his rival slipped through and so Bartholomew was edged to third where he stayed to the flag.
Misano in Italy, Bonaldi Motorsport’s home track, will host the second round of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo season over the weekend 29th/30th June.
Source. Marc Orme