Blackdog Speed Shop hopes to put a wrap on the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge season with two more GTS championships following this weekend’s doubleheader event at Sonoma Raceway.
Both Lawson Aschenbach and Tony Gaples will look to close the year with victories at the 12-turn, 2.35-mile road course in their Chevrolet Camaro GT4.Rs. California’s Wine Country has been good to the team in the past with victories in 2014 (with Aschenbach) and 2015. Blackdog Speed Shop has scored at least one GTS podium finish at Sonoma dating back to 2013.
Another weekend like those in the past will bode very well for the Team and Manufacturer’s championships. Entering the weekend, Blackdog Speed Shop leads by 40 points with a total of 50 available over the two races. Chevrolet heads the Manufacturer’s standings by 11 points with a maximum of 22 remaining.
Blackdog Speed Shop will look for its second Team title, having won the GTS Championship in 2013. That’s also the season Chevrolet last won the Manufacturer’s crown.
“This is a big weekend for us,” said Aschenbach, who clinched his fifth World Challenge Driver’s title – and third in GTS – in the last event at Circuit of The Americas. “The Driver’s title is a great achievement but it couldn’t happen without the support of the Blackdog Speed Shop team and Chevrolet with the new Camaro GT4.R. So the focus for Tony and myself is to do everything we can make sure they both earn the championships they deserve.”
Aschenbach, who drives the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro GT4.R, has a victory and 11 podium finishes in 16 races this year including pole position in the first race of the year at St. Petersburg.
Gaples, in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, will look to secure second place in GTSA Driver’s points as he has a one-point advantage over third place. It’s a good thing he finds so much favor with Sonoma, which puts more of premium on handling and braking rather than outright speed. That, Gaples believes, should put the Blackdog Camaros in a good position for the weekend.
“This is the best event we go to every year,” said Gaples, who has five top-10 finishes in his last seven Sonoma races, including fifth in 2013. “So it’s fitting we have a chance to secure more championships for Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet. Lawson and I want to win… and we want to win badly to close our year in the best possible form. Given our team’s history here, we are hopeful. If we could race in Sonoma more than once a year, I’d be all for it! The track is a great challenge, the Napa Valley area is phenomenal and it’s just a great environment and place to celebrate our season and successes.”
The Pirelli World Challenge GTS class will compete at Sonoma Raceway from Friday through Sunday. Qualifying is set for 9:15 a.m. PT/12:15 p.m. ET on Saturday with the first of two races set for later in the day at 5:15 p.m. PT/8:15 p.m. ET. Race 2 is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. PT/4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.