Gaples to drive McLaren 570S GT4 in Pirelli GT4 America Sprint championship
Long-time Blackdog racer Tony Gaples is set to campaign a new McLaren 570S GT4 in the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Championship – part of the Blancpain GT World Challenge America series. Gaples has been part of the championship since 2002, and the coming year’s campaign looks to be one of the most promising of his career.
The team also confirmed it will run a second McLaren 570S GT4 in the championship, which starts in early March at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Further details of this entry will be announced in the coming weeks.
Blackdog Speed Shop is the most successful team in GTS/GT4 competition in the series formerly known as Pirelli World Challenge. It has claimed 25 race victories, two Team Championships and four Driver Championships to date.
Likewise, Gaples has been a fixture in World Challenge. He is one of only three drivers to record more than 200 starts. He placed second in the 2017 GTSA Driver Championship – with a victory at Sonoma to close the season – and finished third in 2018 GTSA points. He recorded three podium finishes: St. Petersburg, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Watkins Glen.
After running a combination of Sprint and SprintX events in 2018, Gaples is eager for a full season of single-driver racing this season with the McLaren 570S GT4, which has enjoyed race successes across global GT4 championships since its competitive customer team debut in 2017. Owning to strict GT4 regulations, the racing McLaren shares much with the road-going McLaren 570S Coupe. Among the common features is an identical carbon chassis, a mid-mounted 3.8L twin-turbo V8 motor and seven-speed paddle-shift transmission.
The Pirelli GT4 America championship begins March 8-10 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “You’re always looking forward to the start of a new season. This is different in a lot of positive ways. We’re thrilled to start a new chapter of our program with McLaren. We’ve seen with our own eyes how competitive of a package it has been, and I’m impressed with the level of support from McLaren Customer Racing.
“Many of the best races I’ve had were the 50-minute sprint races at places like Sonoma, Long Beach, Road America and other classic tracks in World Challenge. There’s nothing like that intensity and adrenaline – knowing it’s all on you when the green drops. In my mind it’s the most exciting hour in racing.
“While this points us toward a great future with McLaren, I also want to acknowledge our history with Chevrolet in World Challenge. We had a lot of great seasons with wins and championships over the years. It’ll be a great fight this year with the Camaros and all the other manufacturers that have come to GT4 in recent seasons. We’ll be ready.”
RAY SORENSON, TEAM MANAGER, BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP: “Everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop is proud to join the McLaren family. To be associated with a name like McLaren is something every person in racing works toward. This validates the work of this team during the last several years in winning races and championships against some of the best GTS and GT4 competition in the world. We’ll aim to do that again in 2019 – this time with McLaren.”
DAN WALMSLEY, MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR, McLAREN AUTOMOTIVE: “We are extremely pleased to announce our relationship with Blackdog Speed Shop, and confirm that the team will be campaigning the 570S GT4 in the Pirelli GT4 America championship – a championship that is gaining strength with new announcements being made each week. Blackdog Speed Shop has shown itself as a true title contender over the past seasons, so with this enviable track record, and the strong results recorded by the 570S GT4, we are looking forward to challenging for more race wins and championship successes going forward.”
About Blackdog Speed Shop
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, 2018
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Manufacturer Championships – 2013, 2017
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Victories: 25 – Most in class history