Gaples, Cooper back to scene of debut with McLaren 570s GT4
LINCOLNSHIRE, Illinois (March 10, 2020) – There’s no rest for Blackdog Speed Shop in the early part of the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Championship. After claiming four trophies, a victory and a boatload of points at Circuit of The Americas, Blackdog Speed Shop, drivers Michael Cooper and Tony Gaples, and their McLaren 570S GT4s head east to the Florida Gulf Coast and the streets of St. Petersburg.
The GT4 Sprint series will contest a pair of 50-minute races on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit that plays host to the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. It’s a venue that has been very good to Blackdog Speed Shop with four victories since 2014, and the team has reached the class podium at least once each year since 2013.
St. Petersburg also served as the first race for the program as part of the McLaren family. Cooper and Gaples both recorded podium finishes in 2019 and aim for more of the same this time around.
Momentum will certainly be with the pairing. The two drivers combined for four podium finishes over the weekend at Circuit of The Americas, including a victory Sunday for Cooper in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren. It was the 30th GT4/GTS win for the program – the most of any team in the category.
The weekend was just as rewarding for Gaples in the No. 11 Blackdog McLaren. He finished third in both GT4 Am races at COTA. Rarely one to make mistakes, Gaples is a fan of street circuit racing with the style rewarding consistent performance and smart decisions.
Blackdog Speed Shop at the rest of the GT4 America Sprint field will compete at St. Petersburg, Florida, from March 13-15. Race One is set for 4:15 p.m. ET on Saturday and Race Two at 12:10 p.m. ET on Sunday. Both races plus Saturday’s 8:45 a.m. ET qualifying session will stream live on gt4-america.com.
MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 10 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “With the success Tony and I had in Austin, it’s good to get right back into the McLarens. St. Petersburg is a place I really enjoy racing, and I’ve been fortunate to pick up three wins there in my career. The biggest thing about St. Pete is to stay out of trouble; there is a lot of concrete and the restarts can be wild. I’m hoping our McLarens will be more competitive than last year. We have a long break in the sprint schedule after this weekend so another good weekend would be a big deal.”
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “The results at COTA were surprising but I’m happy to take that momentum to St. Petersburg. It’s one of my favorite trips of the year, and I really enjoy street circuit racing. There are a lot of new faces and new cars in our class. Whether or not that is an advantage for us remains to be seen. I think running a consistent race, not making mistakes and taking care of the car are all strengths that I can use to our advantage. It would be great to come away from this weekend with a couple more – and larger! – trophies.”