Aschenbach, Gaples look to build on momentum in second race for Camaro GT4.R
LINCOLNSHIRE, Illinois – Blackdog Speed Shop has competed on a number of America’s best road courses in the Pirelli World Challenge. One missing far too long from that collection is Virginia International Raceway. This weekend, however, changes that with a pair of races at what many consider to be one of the country’s top circuit for sports cars.
VIR hasn’t played host to World Challenge since the 2010 season – three years before Blackdog Speed Shop entered the GTS ranks with Chevrolet Camaros. A further four years down the road and the Blackdog team heads back to VIR with the new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
“When the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge schedule came out, this was one race I circled!” exclaimed Gaples, who drives Blackdog Speed Shop’s No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R in the GTS category. “Going back to VIR is something I – and probably all of the drivers in the series – have wanted for a long time. It’s been a several years since I’ve raced there, but I always enjoyed the experience.”
The 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit is one where Blackdog Speed Shop’s two drivers have previous successes. Gaples’ first podium finish in racing came at VIR in 2001. Lawson Aschenbach, his Blackdog Speed Shop teammate in the No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, won there in 2008.
“VIR… I can’t tell you how awesome it is to race there again,” Aschenbach said. “It’s a classic American circuit with great features: high speeds, heavy braking and a terrific flow. There aren’t many tracks on the Pirelli World Challenge schedule that can offer all that, so we’re excited to go there with our Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.Rs.”
Aschenbach will head to Virginia off a pair of runner-up finishes during the season-opening weekend at St. Petersburg. He also claimed pole position in the Camaro GT4.R’s debut. Based on the road-going Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, the Camaro GT4.R features a 6.2-liter, Chevrolet small block V8 that was developed and validated by Chevy Racing. Power is delivered to a six-speed Xtrac sequential transmission with paddle-shifting and adjustable traction control.
“Mechanically, these new Camaros should excel in the high-speed esses as it transitions very well from corner to corner,” said Aschenbach, who ranks second in GTS points after one weekend. “Our expectations are fairly high for another good weekend since St. Petersburg was a solid start to the season. Now we’ll see how we can build on that momentum.”
Momentum also is in the corner of Gaples, who stands fifth in points after a pair of seventh-place finish in St. Petersburg for his best start in World Challenge competition since moving to GTS in 2013. He also leads the GTS-A championship with his strong showing on the opening weekend.
“To go to VIR with our Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.Rs is an added bonus,” Gaples said. “We’ve had some time following St. Petersburg to really get into the car and learn about its mechanics and how to prep it. With that done, I’m really excited to see how we do in Virginia. It should be a great weekend!”
The combination of Blackdog Speed Shop and the Camaro platform is a winning one in Pirelli World Challenge. Blackdog Speed Shop is the winningest team in PWC GTS competition with 18 victories. The team won three consecutive GTS Driver’s Championships – Aschenbach in 2013-14 and Michael Cooper in 2015 – as well as the 2013 GTS Team title during Blackdog Speed Shop’s first season in the category. Chevrolet was the Manufacturer’s Champion that season, as well.
The Pirelli World Challenge GTS class will compete at on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, on Friday through Sunday. Qualifying is set for 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday with the first of two races set for 2:10 p.m. ET later in the day. GTS Race 2 is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Live race coverage will be available at World-Challenge.com and MotorTrendOnDemand.com. CBS Sports Network will air GTS action from Virginia at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 14.
About Blackdog Speed Shop
Blackdog Speed Shop builds more than just racecars. Whether you race competitively, attend the occasional trackday or like to cruise the back roads, Blackdog will help you get more enjoyment out of your favorite car, be it a Chevrolet Camaro, a Mazda Miata or the newest Porsche 911. From simple brake and suspension upgrades to complete motor builds, dyno-tuning and resto-mods, Blackdog can help!
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!