Scots endurance racer Sandy Mitchell’s American racing debut delivered an exhilarating range of emotions. The 19-year-old from Forfar bagged a podium finish and pole position. Then, in Race 2, he pulled off a miraculous high-speed save, and nursed his blazing Lamborghini back to the pits before the flames took too big a hold.
“That was certainly a memorable weekend,” Mitchell, backed by Black Bull Whisky, said after making his debut in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North American Championship at Barber Motorsports Park, Alabama.
Partnered by Italian Andrea Amici, Mitchell battled back from 11th to finish third in the opening race driving the No. 1 Prestige Performance Lamborghini Huracán prepared by Wayne Taylor Racing.
Amici started the 50-minute race from second on the grid, but as he challenged for the lead on the opening lap he was pitched on to the grass after contact with another car. While the Italian rejoined in 11th, the other car received a drive-through penalty for causing the incident.
After their compulsory pitstop, Mitchell rejoined the race in fourth and the Scot set about closing the big gap to the front three ahead of him. He soon took third, but ran out of time as he closed in on the two leaders.
“I’m was very happy with my stint,” Mitchell, who qualified the car on pole position for Race 2, said. “With our strong pace, we managed to finish third, just behind the leaders.”
Starting the weekend’s second race from the No1 grid position, Mitchell led the field away before settling into a solid second place behind Lamborghini factory driver, Swede Dennis Lind.
Five laps into the 50-minute race, plunging downhill towards the tight left-hander at Turn 5, Mitchell braked, as he had done on the previous four laps. Suddenly his Lamborghini speared left across the track and on to the grass. Displaying split second reactions, Mitchell controlled the car away from the wall, before travelling back across the circuit and into the gravel.
Having managed to keep the engine running, he then edged his way through the gravel trap and nursed the car home to the pitlane, all the time aware that flames were licking round the engine bay just inches behind his head.
“I struggled in the braking zone of Turn 5 a few laps into the race and unfortunately ended up taking a trip through the gravel,” Mitchell, part of the Lamborghini Squadra Corse GT3 Junior Program and a member of the prestigious British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star scheme, explained. “That hurt the temps in the car. It was definitely disappointing.
“But it was a strong weekend overall, and the car and the team were brilliant all weekend. We had a good start and I was very proud of my qualifying speed that secured the pole for Race 2. I’m definitely concentrating on the positives, and already looking forward to the next round at Watkins Glen.”
Image: Sandy Mitchell, in Prestige Performance Lamborghini (black car), leads the start of Race 2 from Pole Position.