Ashton Harrison takes class win at Lamborghini ST first race of the season, Martin on class podium
Ashton Harrison started her fourth season in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American championship with a class win and a second place, showing potential for a title fight in ProAm. At her series debut, Charlie Martin finished on the LB Cup podium in race 2, showing great pace in both races at Laguna Seca.
The first round of the 2022 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America went underway at the WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca - with some returning protagonists and a few exciting new faces. Series veteran Ashton Harrison was back in the #25 Harrison Contracting Company with WTR Lamborghini Huracan, at her fourth season in the series. Harrison was second in the 2019 LB Cup class - and became the first woman to win at the Lamborghini World Finals - before switching to the ProAm category in 2020, where she finished third. She would move to the Am class in a solo campaign, where she claimed 2 wins and 7 podiums. Last year, Harrison also made headlines at her GT3 debut in GT World Challenge, when she claimed an outstanding victory at the 8 Hours of Indianapolis at the wheel of the Compass Racing Acura NSX GT3. A HPD graduate, Harrison is contesting a double program in 2022, including her first full-season in the SRO-sanctioned GT World Challenge America alongside her title assault in the Lamborghini one-make series in the ProAm class, partnering Tom Long. Among the over-30 car entries, we find British racing driver Charlie Martin, who makes her debut Stateside at the wheel of the LB Cup class #54 Dream Racing machine. An inspiring figure on and off the track, Martin has a big goal: becoming the first transgender driver to contest the 24H of Le Mans - and certainly her progression in sportscar racing in the last couple of years represent an important step towards that direction. Martin made appearances in the Michelin Le Mans Cup in 2019, at the wheel of the Racing Experience LMP3 car, before making her debut at the Nordschleife-based NLS in 2020, including her first eparticipation at the mighty 24H of the Nürburgring. She was part of the female-forward team Team Driverse's effort in ADAC GT4 Germany in 2021, alongside a full campaign in the Britcar Endurance Championship where she finished third in the standings. Both Harrison and Marin qualified third in their respective classes for Saturday's race, with Finnish racer Patrick Kujala claiming pole position overall. Kujala got away well from pole but was soon overtaken by Danny Formal (WTR) on the first lap - as the leading duo pulled away from the rest of the pack. Tom Long - who started the first part of the race in the #25 Lamborghini - held position in class and ninth overall, while there was trouble for Charlie Martin who was tagged in the early stages, spun and was forced to recover from the back of the field. With a strong recovery, though, she would gain back fourth in class after only nine laps and, at the mid-race mark, she was back in her starting position. There were a few spins but the race remained green and, when the pit window opened, Formal was back on pit road on lap 15, as Kyle Marcelli started his driving shift. Long handed over to Ashton Harrison, who rejoined in fourth place in ProAm. When the top-three in ProAm pitted, Ashton Harrison was able to navigate through the field and move into first place in class, passing the two Precision Performance Motorsport cars of Ortiz and Lew. Charlie Martin stayed out and continued to climb the order, until her pit stop with 21 minutes to go, when she handed the car over to Jason Gagne-Keats. Ahead, Kyle Marcelli led Edoardo Piscopo with a 6 second gap - but his safe margin was soon neutralized when Gagne-Keats found himself in the gravel, bringing out the first caution of the race and ending prematurely the race for the #54 he shares with Charlie Martin. The team had been battling an ABS issue that ultimately caused the retirement. The race went back to green with 9 minutes left on the clock: amidst the chaotic action that followed, Harrison was protagonist of some great battles at the Corkscrew, where she defended elbows-out from the attacks of Berkeley and gained a position on a Pro car in the process. A second Full Course Yellow brought the race to an early end when Sellari and Bacarella came together with 2 minutes to go. Marcelli/Formal won the first race of the season for WRT, followed by Piscopo/Kujala and Edoardo Liberati, third for Dream Racing Motorsport. Fifth overall, Ashton Harrison started the season with a stunning ProAm victory. On Sunday, Harrison got behind the wheel for the first stint, lining up in fourth place in ProAm and eleventh overall. Race 1 winner Marcelli spun at the first corner, as Patrick Liddy led Loris Spinelli and Edoardo Liberati after the first lap. The latter, though, would end up receiving a drive through penalty for a starting infringement. A big shunt for the #4 MCR Racing LB Cup car of Collins brought out the Full Course Yellow after 7 laps; the lengthy neutralization extended until the pit window, but the pit lane remained closed. At the green flag, Spinelli got away well, while a few ProAm drivers pitted for the driver change. Having started from 26th overall and third in the LB Cup, Jason Gagne-Keats left the wheel of the #54 Huracan in the hands of Charlie Martin from fifth in class. Ashton Harrison pitted on lap 15 having gained one place in ProAm. After the round of pit stops, Patrick Kujala cleared Taurino for the overall lead, as the latter struggled for grip and would slip to fourth. Now second overall, Formal caught up with Kujala, but he couldn't find a way past the Change Racing's driver and had to settle for second. Tom Long battled with Ockey for second place in ProAm and made a move stick at Turn 4 with a brilliant pass, completing a very solid weekend for the Harrison Contracting duo. “I’m super excited about our start to the Lamborghini Super Trofeo season", she commented. "I’m pretty sure that today’s result puts Tom and I in the lead of the championship points heading into NOLA." "Our Harrison Contracting car was so strong and Tom and I are a great pairing in the PRO|AM class. We’ve come a long way in Super Trofeo and I’m excited to see the program coming to fruition and being able to be a part of it. I can’t wait for the second round.", concluded Harrison. "I couldn’t be more excited that we came away from the weekend with two podium finishes and a win", echoed her teammate Tom Long. "We’ve got a great shot at making a run for the championship this year.” Charlie Martin had an impressive second stint and was at one point several seconds per lap faster than her LB Cup competitors. She signed the fastest lap of the race in class and charged back to third place, claiming her first podium at series debut. “I'm delighted with our podium result this weekend", Martin said. "We've worked very hard through the off-season to prepare for this so it's great to have that work rewarded." "Of course, we know we could've had more to celebrate if fate hadn't played its part on Saturday but that's motor racing. We knew the pace was there and we were confident it would come through in the end." Leaving Laguna Seca, Martin now occupies fifth place in the standings with 10 points. The next Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American round will be at NOLA Motorsports Park, New Orleans, on the weekend of 20-22 May.