Charlie Martin charges from last to third in Valencia
Charlie Martin and Jason Keats continued their positive season in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe with their third class podium of the season, securing a remarkable third place from the very last spot of the grid in race 1 at Valencia.
Charlie Martin was back on the podium in Lamborghini Super Trofeo at Valencia, fourth round of the 2023 season which marked Martin and her teammate's Jason Keats first European campaign in the one make series. The drivers of the #54 Brutal Fish Racing Lamborghini had in fact contested the North American season in 2022, before moving to the European division which features over 40 entries among the most competitive teams and drivers in GT racing. With a podium at the season opener at the technical Paul Ricard circuit and a maiden class pole position at Spa Francorchamps, Martin and Keats climbed the podium once again at the Nürburgring, where Martin marginally missed out on a second pole position and then stormed through the field to secure third from eighth in race 2, in a weekend of typical Eifel weather. After the summer break, Charlie and her Canadian teammate - at his second ever season in the sport - prepared for the fourth round at Circuito Ricardo Tormo, aiming for more silverware in the LC Cup class that sees the duo entering the weekend in fifth place in the standings. The 4.005 km track features a mix of slow and high speed sections and traditionally offers little passing opportunities - so qualifying would be particularly important even for an action-packed series like Lamborghini Super Trofeo. "Coming into this weekend fresh from our podium in the last round is a great confidence boost", Charlie commented before the race meeting. "Myself and Jason have been working hard during the break to be as prepared as possible for this weekend and the aim as always is to be battling it out for wins and podiums once more. We have the speed in the car, so I can't wait to get out on track and give it everything this weekend!" Friday practice sessions turned out to be heavily disrupted by the wet weather, but Charlie Martin was still able to showcase her speed in tricky conditions with a second place in class in both sessions. Unfortunately, a heavy crash for a competitor brought the first qualifying session to a halt - and log track repairs eventually meant that running was not resumed: having not set a lap time before, Charlie Martin's weekend took a challenging turn as she would have to line up from the very back of the grid, in P42 overall. At lights out for race 1, Martin had a mountain to climb but soon overtook the cars immediately ahead and continued to make up ground, passing one car after the other for both the overall and LC class positions. After a caution that prevented her from gaining further positions, the pit window opened and Martin stayed out, extending her stint. Up to third in class, Charlie ran as high as eighth overall during the round of pit stops, right behind LC Cup rivals Privitelio and Biglieri who also went longer. She would then pit with 21 minutes to go from ninth place overall and third in class, handing over to Jason Keats for the second part of the race.
The Canadian rejoined fifth in class but soon cleared Hernandez Ortega for fourth and continued to battle in the very busy field and mingled with the AM entries. With five minutes to go, LC class leader Luciano Provitelio hit trouble and dropped down the order - thus promoting Krebs and Biglieri to the top of the order and Jason Keats to third. Crossing the line in P32 overall, Jason Keats and Charlie Martin claimed a brilliant class podium after starting from the very back of the field and continued their positive streak. "What a day", Martin commented. "From dead last to the podium! A huge crash early on in qualifying saw the session cancelled without posting a time and starting from last was a bitter pill to swallow after showing good pace in testing." "Carving through traffic was very hectic on the twisty track at Valencia, I handed the car over P4 in class and Jason then drove a stint to be proud of to bring our car home on the podium!" Keats had claimed sixth place in class in the second qualifying that set the starting grid for race 2 on Sunday. The Canadian had a very solid start, but a first lap contact soon later at turn 3 saw the #77 Lamborghini of Hernandez Ortega hitting the #54 machine driven by Jason Keats, who spun and got stuck in the gravel trap. The incident triggered the safety car and, having sustained damage, the car was retired from race 2. "The second race of the weekend on Sunday was one to forget as contact sent us through the gravel and we encountered damage which meant we had to retire the car", Martin summed up. "Still a weekend to remember and it shows that you should never give up, no matter the odds! Time to reset once more and go again at Vallelunga in November!" Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe will in fact return to the track on 12-13 November at Vallelunga, Italy, for the final round of the European season, which will precede the Lamborghini World Finals a few days later on the same track. Charlie Martin currently sits fifth in the drivers' standings of the LC Cup after four rounds.