Bonaldi Motorsport’s Loris Spinelli and Max Weering kicked off the 2022 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe season in the best possible way as they strolled to victory in the first 50-minute encounter of the weekend at Imola. The Italian/Dutch combination, at the wheel of the #61 Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2, held the advantage either side of the mandatory pit-stop to beat Jean-Luc D’Auria and Stéphane Tribaudini (VS Racing) by 17.981s.
Meanwhile, ex-MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa completed his first race on four wheels by finishing ninth in the Pro-Am category. The three-time world motorcycle champion, alongside Antonin Borga in the #29 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán ST EVO2 started fifth overall on the grid and came home unscathed at the end of a gruelling first race.
Having taken pole position by the best part of a second, Spinelli made a strong getaway from the rolling start to lead into Tamburello for the first time. VS Racing’s Emanuele Zonzini made an equally good start to launch his way ahead of Oregon Team’s new recruit Lewis Williamson for third at Turn 1, before sliding up the inside of Milan Teekens (#54 Target Racing) at Tosa to grab second.
The Pro-Am entry maintained second throughout the opening stint, but nobody could hold a candle against Spinelli in the lead, as the experienced Super Trofeo campaigner built a considerable 12-second margin before the pit-stop phase.
As the field settled down after the opening laps, the battle for second began to close up, with Zonzini’s two-second gap reduced to just over a second as Teekens increased his pace. Behind the Dutch driver, Williamson was just half a second adrift. Further back, the action in Pro-Am was frenetic as FFF Racing Team’s Dan Wells, Lorenzo Pegoraro (Oregon Team) and Pietro Perolini became embroiled in an entertaining squabble for seventh overall and third in class behind Zonzini and Williamson. All three went into Tamburello together, with Perolini prevailing, Well momentarily running through the gravel and Pegoraro dropping two places.
Approaching the pit-stop window, Spinelli continued to stretch his lead out front, extending the margin over Zonzini as the San Marino driver began to slip back. As predicted, Spinelli stayed out for almost the duration of the 10-minute pit-window before handing over to team-mate Weering, who controlled the second half of the race.
Zonzini waited until the very last moment to pit from the lead, with Emanuel Colombini taking over the reins of the #78 VS Racing Huracán. Teekens, who struggled to match the pace of the front-runners early on, also made his stop towards the end of the window, swapping with Italian driver Marzio Moretti. The 20-year-old was immediately fast out of the pits and made quick work of Colombini in front of him to move up into second place, after a decisive overtake on the inside of Tosa, replicating the move Zonzini orchestrated on Teekens.
From then on, Moretti was one of the fastest drivers on track, but the Target Racing effort was soon ended as a tyre issue pitched him into the gravel trap at Tamburello forcing the #54 Huracán to retire from the race. That incident brought out the full course yellow with around 10 minutes left to run, and subsequently the safety car while the marshals cleared the stricken car.
Weering, despite seeing his lead advantage severely reduced, maintained his composure and used a combination of traffic and a penalty behind to increase his lead once more, coming home some 17.981s clear of D’Auria. With Moretti out of the picture, Williamson and Massimo Ciglia (#27 Oregon Team) looked likely to claim the runner-up position but received a drivethrough penalty following a pit-stop infringement.
Williamson, who recovered brilliantly from a spin on the exit of Villeneuve before the stops, handed over to Ciglia who in turn perfected an overtake on Colombini to momentarily claim second. However, the drivethrough took them out of victory contention, and they finished sixth overall but still on the Pro-Am podium in third. The victory went the way of Colombini and Zonzini, while Wells and Oscar Lee took second place.
In the Am class, Gabriel Rindone took the victory for Leipert Motorsport despite running second to pole-sitter and early leader Stéphan Guerin for much of the 50-minute race. Guerin took the lead from pole-sitter Rindone off the rolling start for Arkadia Racing, maintaining a slender 0.420s lead. The gap extended to just over two seconds before the pit-stop, reducing only marginally after the window closed.
However, in the closing stages, Rindone found a way past the Frenchman to grab the victory, with Guerin clinging on to second from GT3 Poland’s Holger Harmsen by just three-tenths of a second.
Defending Lamborghini Cup champion Hans Fabri began his quest for a third consecutive class title in fine fashion by taking victory for Imperiale Racing. The Dutch veteran started from pole position and built a five-second lead over triple class champion Gerard Van der Horst. Following the pit-stops, Fabri’s lead ballooned to over 17s and he was untroubled to the flag. Father and son partnership Luciano and Donovan Privitelio (FFF Racing Team) completed the podium in third.
Race 2 at Imola is scheduled to take place on Sunday at 11:50 CET and will be streamed live on the Lamborghini Squadra Corse Facebook page and official YouTube channel.
Race-winner Loris Spinelli (#61 Bonaldi Motorsport) said: “An amazing start to the season for us, a pole position and race victory in the first race of the season. The car felt great today, Max did a very good stint in the car and I really enjoyed my stint as well. The balance is nice and the car was fast but we must focus on tomorrow to do the same again.”
Team-mate Weering added: “I’m really happy with the race victory today, Loris built a big gap for me which I managed to increase in my stint too. The safety car was a little bit difficult to manage but in the end it was okay. We still need to do the same tomorrow starting from second on the grid, but the car feels amazing to drive.”
Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe – 2022 Calendar
Round 1: Imola (Italy), 1-3 April
Round 2: Le Castellet (France), 3-5 June
Round 3: Misano (Italia), 1-3 July
Round 4: Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) 29-30 July
Round 5: Barcellona (Spain) 30 settembre-2 October
Round 6: Portimão (Portugal), 3-4 November
Finals: Portimão (Portugal), 5-6 November