Kyle Marcelli admits that Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America hadn’t been a series that was on his radar until now, with Canadian eager to show his potential in this year’s enlarged Pro class field.
The reigning IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series champion and former GT World Challenge America Pro-Am champion is one of several high-profile drivers to join the single-make series in what’s shaping up to be its most competitive season yet.
Marcelli has teamed up with Danny Formal in the No. 1 Prestige Performance with Wayne Taylor Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo in nine-car Pro class.
“I’ve known the Wayne Taylor Racing engineer Brian Pillar,” Marcelli told Sportscar365. “Over the off-season Brian had put me in touch with the team manager Travis [Houge] and then Travis got in touch to say they were working on a Pro car and if that was something I was interested in.
“Of course I had nothing confirmed [at that point].
“It wasn’t a series that was ever really on my radar but it was a fantastic opportunity. I obviously rate Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing extremely high. They set the benchmark in top competition in IMSA.
“Just to be aligned with that team and in house, I was really excited for the opportunity.”
Marcelli got his first laps in the 620-horsepower Super Trofeo Evo in a single-day test at Circuit of The Americas last month and was left surprised with the car’s potential.
“The car was new for me,” he said. “That was the main focus. For me it was just understanding the car. There’s a lot of car there, more power than anything I’ve driven.
“I was pleasantly surprised at its capabilities. It’s a lot of work at the same time. Inside the car, you’re working pretty hard to keep it on the road.
“Because of all that power, it doesn’t keep the tires underneath it very well. I quickly found out that you need to manage the tire.
“Unlike a modern GT3 car, which are pretty friendly with the traction control capabilities and really the lack of power and downforce and all that being said. They take care of the tire better than these [Super Trofeos].
“I actually look forward to that challenge. I think it’s going to add another element to driving the car. It’s maybe not 10/10ths every single lap of the race.
“There’s only one set of tires for both Q1 and Q2 which is cool and a different challenge.”
Teaming with Costa Rica native Formal, a multi-time champion in shifter karts, Marcelli has high hopes for the season ahead but realizes the challenge ahead given the new-found strength of the field.
“You look at the grid this year and it’s a record entry, with 30+ cars, a third of which are pro lineups,” Marcelli said.
“There’s guys with lots more experience than me, in some cases.
“I think that’s great for the series. Chris Ward did a fantastic job over the off season. It’s great for the sport.
“As a driver you just want to continue to get the best and see how you stack up.
“We look forward to the challenge. We don’t expect it to be easy but we’ve got a team that’s certainly capable and experienced. There’s no excuses.”
Marcelli on the Ups and Downs of Racing
Saturday’s opening race of the weekend will mark Marcelli’s first time back in race conditions since winning the Pilot Challenge GS title in a KohR Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 last year.
He was due to take part in January’s Pilot Challenge season-opener in a KohR Ford Mustang GT4, which was retired before he was scheduled to drive.
“It’s a funny sport and I still don’t have it figured out,” he said. “You can win races, you can win championships and you can still be sitting home the next year.
“It doesn’t add up. It’s unlike any other professional sport out there.
“I have a hard time with this but you need to not take it personally because there’s generally a background story to everything.
“It’s hard because you feel like you do your job and when you’re sitting at home it’s frustrating.
“I’m obviously extremely excited to be with Prestige Performance and Wayne Taylor Racing. It’s a huge honor.
“That’s one thing that every driver wishes for, is to be aligned with a top team.
“I look at this as potentially a launchpad for additional opportunities within WTR. Time will tell. Now I think the biggest pressure I have is just to do my job in the car.
“If I do my job in the car well, I hope there is additional opportunities down the road.”