Cooper, Pilgrim making debut in St. Petersburg-winning Camaro GT4.R
LINCOLNSHIRE, Illinois – With two victories already in its pocket after the opening weekend of Pirelli World Challenge GTS competition, Blackdog Speed Shop heads to Texas for a new wrinkle in its program: multi-driver endurance racing.
This weekend’s event at Circuit of The Americas marks the first SprintX round for Blackdog Speed Shop, along with the rest of the GTS class. A pair of hour-long races await the team and its two Chevrolet Camaro GT4.Rs, which will see a pair of faces familiar to the team and PWC joining the Blackdog ranks.
Andy Pilgrim, a past PWC GT Champion, joins Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R with defending GTS Driver’s Champion Aschenbach coming off a sweep of the GTS sprint rounds at St. Petersburg two weeks ago. In the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro, Michael Cooper – himself a past GTS Champion with the team – returns alongside Tony Gaples.
Both Pilgrim and Cooper were able to sample the Camaro GT4.R for the first time earlier this month during a test at Sebring, Fla. Needless to say, each came away quite impressed with the second-year GT4 entry.
SprintX races in GTS involve a mandatory driver change within a 10-minute window near the midpoint of the race. Drivers in the same entry will earn equal points toward the GTSX Driver’s Championship standings with the category also awarding Manufacturer and Team points, as well.
Blackdog Speed Shop last visited the palatial Circuit of The Americas in September as Aschenbach clinched his fifth World Challenge Driver’s Championship and third in GTS. He was a winner at the track in 2013 and 2016. Meanwhile, Pilgrim will make his first PWC start at COTA since 2015; he finished on the GT podium in both 2013 races.
Cooper also is past race-winner at COTA with a victory in 2015 driving a Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro on the GTS weekend. A year later he claimed a double-podium in GT competition. Gaples has started every PWC race at Austin in GTS. He was runner-up in last year’s first GTSA race.
Built to global GT4 regulations, the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R is based on the road-going Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. It features a 6.2-liter, Chevrolet small block V8 that was developed and validated by Chevrolet Racing. Power is delivered to a six-speed Xtrac sequential transmission with paddle-shifting and adjustable traction control. Additional mechanical features include an Xtrac racing limited-slip differential, a two-way adjustable Ohlins Racing dampers and adjustable ABS along with Brembo brakes.
LAWSON ASCHENBACH, NO. 1 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “Winning at St. Petersburg was a great way to start the season. It wasn’t an easy weekend though… far from it. Now we go to a completely different type of track – and format – at COTA. It will be tough to navigate the slow-speed corners and changes of direction that are prominent parts of the circuit. Despite that, I know the guys at Blackdog Speed Shop will do everything they can to get our Camaro GT4.Rs ready. It’ll be a big weekend with Andy and Michael joining us. We’re hopeful to have a lot to celebrate by the end of the weekend.”
ANDY PILGRIM, NO. 1 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “My first time in the Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R at Sebring was a blast. I was lucky enough to drive both team cars during our test day. The most impressive thing was how well the chassis worked for such a heavy race car. Sebring is a tough place, with lots of pavement changes and bumps… a lot like St. Pete. Other GT4 cars I’ve driven are superb on smooth race tracks, but not so good on bumpy ones. I’m looking forward to see how we stack up on the silky smooth F1 track at COTA.”
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “I’m looking forward to being back at Austin and teaming with Michael. We have a great relationship and I’m hoping that leads to success for us in this new format. There are a lot of new factors to take into SprintX races. We’re fortunate to have a great group of creative guys on our team that we hope will give us an edge.”
MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “I was immediately impressed by the Camaro GT4.R at our Sebring test. The car does everything extremely well. These GT4 cars are becoming very refined and the Camaro is no different. Once I was comfortable in the car, Tony and I were able to work on executing pit-lane procedures. We practiced driver changes as well as in-laps and out-laps as GTS hasn’t done any of these in years past. SprintX races are won and lost in the pit stops, so our focus has been on that. We’ve got the entire process sorted out already. I’m looking forward to using that to our benefit at COTA.”
Blackdog Speed Shop Facts and Figures – Pirelli World Challenge
• Winningest GTS program in PWC history – 23 victories
o Two Team Championships (2013, 2017)
o Four Driver Championships (2013-15, 2017)
o Two Manufacturer Championships (2013, 2017)
Chevrolet Facts and Figures – Pirelli World Challenge
• Chevrolet Camaro second all-time in PWC victories by model (51).
• Chevrolet first all-time in PWC victories by brand (125)
• General Motors first all-time in PWC victories by manufacturer (188)
• Championship Totals
o Chevrolet: Five Manufacturer Championships (1990-91, 1994, 2013, 2017)
o Blackdog Speed Shop: Two Team Championships (2013, 2017)
o Blackdog Speed Shop: Four Driver Championships (2013-15, 2017)
The Pirelli World Challenge GTSX class will compete at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas on Friday through Sunday. Qualifying is set for 9 a.m. CT on Saturday with the first of two races set for 1:20 p.m. CT later in the day. GTSX Race 2 is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. CT on Sunday. Live race coverage will be available at World-ChallengeTV.com.
About Blackdog Speed Shop
Blackdog Speed Shop is a high-performance, custom car builder in the northern suburbs of Chicago specializing in ground-up car builds, high-performance upgrades for engines, transmissions, suspension and exhaust including computer and dyno tuning. Whether you have a modern muscle car, vintage muscle, 1930s hot rod or a foreign exotic, you will enjoy the Blackdog experience.
Ever dreamed of piloting a real World Challenge race car? Blackdog offers rental and “arrive and drive” racing in addition to purpose-built cars. Call Blackdog today at (855) 4-BLACKDOG to schedule an appointment or discuss the best way to put you in the driver’s seat!
Blackdog Speed Shop at a Glance
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Driver Championships – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Team Championships – 2013, 2017
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Manufacturer Championships – 2013, 2017
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Victories: 23 – Most in class history