LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. – Blackdog Speed Shop will chase the sun west to California and Sonoma Raceway for another trio of races in the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint championship.
With the lead in the GT4 America Sprint Driver and Team points standings, the team is banking on its past experience and success at the circuit to keep up its momentum from the last SRO America weekend at Virginia International Raceway.
As was the case at VIR, the Blackdog squad will field a single McLaren 570S GT4 for overall Sprint Championship leader Michael Cooper in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop entry. Cooper has three wins in five races this season including two of three at VIR. In addition to the previously scheduled doubleheader weekend at Sonoma, the weekend’s third race will be a make-up event for the second of two St. Petersburg (Fla.) races that were postponed in March.
Tony Gaples continues to recover from eye surgery that forced him to miss the VIR weekend and had hoped to return to competition at Sonoma, site of his first GT4 win in 2017. However, he won’t be racing this weekend but will be in attendance to cheer on the Blackdog team.
If recent history is any indication, there will be plenty to cheer about. Blackdog Speed Shop has five wins all-time at Sonoma in GT4/GTS competition including one last year by Cooper in the McLaren. It was nothing new as he has wins in three classes at Sonoma in his career. Among those was a victory in 2015.
Last year’s race was near perfection as Cooper captured pole position, set fastest race lap in both weekend rounds to go along with a victory and runner-up finish.
Just as was the case at VIR, no spectators will be allowed in the facility, and only essential team, track and series personnel will be admitted. All teams will practice social distancing and use of proper PPE while following federal, state and local protocols in efforts to negate transmission of the coronavirus.
Blackdog Speed Shop’s three races at Sonoma are scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT Friday, 9:25 a.m. PT Saturday and 3:15 p.m. PT Sunday. All three races plus Saturday’s 8:30 a.m. ET qualifying session will stream live on gt4-america.com.
MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 10 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “Sonoma is a track that I always circle at the start of every year. It is a track that allows the driver to be really aggressive and make the difference. The challenge of sliding a car around every corner, which is what it takes to be quick at Sonoma, makes it extremely enjoyable. I have five wins there in everything from GT3 to TC to back that up – two of those with Blackdog Speed Shop. We had a really good weekend in Wine Country last year, getting our first win in the McLaren from pole. Replicating that will be pretty difficult with some of the Balance of Performance changes to other cars for this round. I’m still going out there with maximum effort and going to do my part to make the difference.”