The #78 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2, driven by Misha Goikhberg, Patrick Liddy and endurance team-mate Loris Spinelli endured a trio of drive-through penalties throughout the 10-hour contest, including two with roughly two hours remaining.
Spinelli was charged with changing lanes during a restart procedure and was handed the first penalty. The second came after a run-in with the #Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3, while the third came for being outside the pit stall.
Despite the issues, the California-based outfit utilized fuel strategy and, after the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura crashed out with an hour to go, found itself in the lead. In the end, the team finished 5.873s ahead of Robby Foley in the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 to claim a maiden class victory.
“The feeling is amazing, especially because it’s my first time on this track,” Spinelli said.
“The race started really well. We were fighting for the top five after a couple hours, but unfortunately, we got a couple penalty drive-throughs. The team put on an amazing effort in the last few hours.
“The car was really drivable. I’m super happy. It’s a result that we deserve already at the beginning of the season because we showed always good speed. A bit unlucky, a bit with not a lot of experience, but we are ready for 2024.”
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt
#78 US RaceTronics Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2: Misha Goikhberg, Loris Spinelli, Patrick Liddy
The win at the 2.54-mile,12-turn road course followed a runner-up result on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course last month.
Additionally, it marked four top five results over the last five rounds after not scoring any in the opening six races. In the end, the combination of results vaulted Goikhberg and Spinelli to fifth in the GTD standings to close out the year.
“It’s been roughly a year when the seed started to be planted for a program for this year,” Goikhberg said. “There’s been a lot of frustrating races where we were almost there, and something always seemed to go wrong.
“To finish the season on a strong note, to get Lamborghini a win and to really prove to ourselves that we’re capable of winning and to really to go hard in preparation for 2024, which literally starts this week, I think it’s very important for the morale of the team. “Just knowing we can do it, that’s big for us.”
For his part, Liddy shared how far the team has come since contesting in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America.
“I’ve been with US RaceTronics and Forte since I entered the IMSA paddock in Super Trofeo,” Liddy said. “I know everyone on the team, Shane (Seneviratne) and Trish (Donovan), everyone that was doing pit stops since then.
“It’s been very cool because I’ve heard several times that it’s a Super Trofeo team running a GT3 car. It’s such a big step up to the GT3 level that I didn’t even appreciate until I got here. It’s amazing to see the team come together over the season and come out with a win at the last race. It shows the team’s momentum, so I’m incredibly proud of them.
“Amazing driving from Loris and Misha as well, and we had some strategy wizards of our own.”