“Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.”
It’s the mantra and mission sentence of British endurance race driver Charlie Martin. Entering the last two races of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America at Portimão, Portugal, the mountain for Martin and teammate Jason Gagne-Keats could find a championship at the summit.
A star-crossed second race saw their climb finish 7 points short of an LB Cup class championship to Slade Stewart.
Their hard luck began early with Gagne-Keats surging into second. Twelve minutes into the 50-minute race, the valve stem on a rear tire failed, and Gagne-Keats had to limp the car back to the pits. The misfortune dropped the team to fifth.
Their championship hopes died in the second half of the race. Martin, pushing to recover the deficit, spun coming through the turn-four complex. She recovered the car to salvage the finish, but Stewart’s third-place effort wrapped up the title.
Bittersweet end to the North American championship. Started Race 2 in P3, quickly got to P2 but had the valve stem rip out of a tire on the front straight. Had to do a lap on 3 tires. @GoCharlieM did her best to recover, but ended P5. BUT finished P2 in the overall championship! pic.twitter.com/BIFkwlcGZD— Jason Keats (@OSOMKeats) November 4, 2022
The weekend opened with the continuation of the strong pace the team had shown all year. On Thursday, Martin put the car on the pole for race 1, and Gagne-Keats was third fastest in qualifying for race 2.
Despite some early issue Martin put the team in contention in her stint. Gagne-Keats took over for the last half of the race and fought in what Martin called an “amazing drive” on her Twitter to bring the team home second.
The race one result at Portimão was a continuation of the form that this effort has built race-to-race. Some of this came from Martin’s calling card throughout her racing career. She’s a quick study who’s had to learn a different vehicle, and a compliment of different tracks in a maiden racing voyage through the United States, including three icons of American racing season that were part of the series and that Martin was racing for the first time.
At Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen, Martin helped pace podium finishes, but Road America in Wisconsin in August was the breakthrough for the Martin-Keats team. The pair snagged a race win that Saturday, followed by a second that Sunday.
“It feels really special to get our first win of the season and especially after such a tough race,” Martin said. “The strong result on Sunday saw us collect a P2 which makes it a really great points haul for us.”
Although the championship battle in Super Trofeo North America is over, the season has two more races left. The last two will involve the field of both the Super Trofeo North America and Super Trofeo Europe series, and will run separate for the pro divisions and the pro-am divisions like LB Cup, which Martin and Gagne-Keats compete in.
Saturday Nov. 5: Race 3 10:45am - 11:35am Eastern
Sunday Nov. 6: Race 4 8:00am - 8:50am Eastern