Prestige Performance with Wayne Taylor Racing driver Stuart Middleton celebrated his first podium results of the 2020 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America season over the weekend, 22nd/23rd August, with a pair of richly deserved second places at Virginia International Raceway.
Teaming with Stevan McAleer in the No.1 Lamborghini Huracan, Ashington-based Middleton was able to showcase strong progress from the opening event of the campaign a couple of weeks ago to deliver two very impressive race performances.
Finishing runner-up in round three on Saturday, having started fourth on the grid, in round four on Sunday the team-mates were second again after qualifying fifth fastest. In terms of the championship standings, Middleton and McAleer are fourth and just 13 points shy of the lead.
“Overall it’s been a really strong weekend with two P2 finishes”, commented Middleton, “We gained a good chunk of points that we needed on the board. I think the team’s made great steps forward to getting us closer to the pace we need to be, coming into the next one we’ll make even more steps forward. I’m really happy for the guys because they worked so hard.”
Middleton and McAleer were fifth fastest in both practice sessions on Friday, 21st August, and then in round three qualifying on Saturday McAleer posted the fourth quickest time to secure a slot on the second row of the grid with a lap of 1m47.172 seconds – second in the Pro class.
Taking the first stint of Saturday afternoon’s race, the Scotsman made a fantastic start to leap into second position and soaked up immense pressure from the pursuing Madison Snow. Staying reasonably in touch with race leader Steven Aghakhani, as the first 10 minutes of action elapsed McAleer edged closer to the No.6 Lamborghini Huracan.
As the mid-race pit-stops neared at the 20-minute mark, McAleer was roughly two seconds shy of the leader but still with Snow close behind, and when Snow pitted with just under half an hour to go McAleer remained on track. When Aghakani, who had a lead of over three seconds, pitted McAleer assumed first place and he eventually stopped with 25 minutes remaining.
Middleton climbed aboard the WTR Lamborghini for his first ever race mileage at Virginia and threaded back into the race in second position around 3.9 seconds behind the No.6 car, which now had Jacob Eidson at the wheel. Lapping strongly, Middleton worked hard to stay in touch of the leader and punched in competitive times.
With 15 minutes to go, Eidson had increased his advantage and Middleton instead had to be mindful of the looming threat from behind of Snow who was just 1.4 seconds adrift. Within five minutes, the gap had reduced to almost zero and the British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star had his work cut out.
Soaking up monumental pressure, the impressive North East Caravans-backed driver didn’t put a wheel wrong during the remainder of the 50-minute contest and he took the chequered flag on lap 28 in a well-deserved second place for his first podium of the season in North America. The best lap of 1m46.245 seconds (110.80mph) was just 0.2s shy of the fastest of all.
“It felt as if it was night and day difference from Road America with the feel of the car”, reflected Middleton after race one, “We definitely made big moves forward in terms of the general overall feel and outright race pace. When I got in the car for my stint initially I was struggling and the car behind was catching me. I held him off and then the car started coming back to me a bit more.”
For Sunday’s fourth round, Middleton lined-up fifth on the grid – fourth in the Pro class – after posting a lap time of 1m46.545 seconds in second qualifying. Climbing into third on the opening lap, after a tangle between pole-starter Eidson and Leo Lamelas, when racing resumed after a Full Course Yellow period the Briton remained third until lap eight when moving into second.
Staying on track as the pit-stops began to be served, Middleton moved through into the lead of the race by lap 10 before he then made his mandatory pit visit. When the race order had settled down, McAleer was in second position where he remained to the chequered flag on lap 26 to cap a great weekend for the WTR duo.
There is only a fortnight for Middleton to wait before the next instalment of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America action, with rounds five and six of the season taking place at Watkins Glen International near New York on 5th/6th September.
2020 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Standings:
4th Stuart Middleton/Stevan McAleer, 40pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. Wayne Taylor Racing