AUSTIN, Texas – Blackdog Speed Shop brought home two trophies after a hard-fought and tense weekend finale for the Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Championship at Circuit of The Americas.
Michael Cooper completed a weekend sweep in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren 570S GT4 for his 11th victory of the season – a day after clinching the GT4 Sprint Drivers Championship. Teammate Tony Gaples finished third in GT4 Am with his No. 11 Blackdog McLaren for his sixth podium finish in eight races this year.
Blackdog Speed Shop won for the 41st time in GT4/GTS competition and took its fourth win at COTA this season. The series opened its calendar there in March and scheduled a return visit in a reconfigured schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last two races for Cooper were some of the toughest he’s had this year. Starting from pole, he rarely led by more than one second – a near carbon copy of Saturday’s race. They ran nose-to-tail for the first 25 minutes before the race’s only full-course caution period. The race restarted with nine minutes left, and Cooper continued to run a perfect race with no mis-steps along the way.
Gaples’ had an up-and-down run that landed him back on the class podium, despite some mid-race concerns with the electronics on his McLaren. He began the race third in class and made an early play for the second spot before settling into his position. Gaples lost ground with the aforementioned electronics issue that cut power to the McLaren at the end of the track’s long backstraight; although it was an intermittent issue, he drove the rest of the way uncertain if the problem would arise again.
Gaples ran third at the time of the yellow but fell back to fifth at the restart with the McLaren still not running to its full potential. He dug in, adjusted his driving and climbed back into podium position with less than two minutes to go, despite some late-race contact in the braking zone at the end of the backstretch.
Cooper, Gaples and Blackdog Speed Shop will close the Pirelli GT4 Sprint Championship with a doubleheader event in two weeks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
MICHAEL COOPER, #10 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “This weekend felt different, but the goal was still the same: maximize our points. Fortunately we were able to get out of here with three wins. The last two days against Drew (Staveley) was really fun and hard racing, which is all you can ask for. This team at Blackdog Speed Shop is just incredible and operates and such a high level. It’s just an awesome group that gets it done – week in and week out, pressure or no pressure. They just get it done.”
TONY GAPLES, #11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “A very up and down day to say the least. I’m glad to get back on the podium, but we’re not sure what was going on with the electronics during the race. I felt like I still had good speed but things like that always play in the back of your mind. Things definitely didn’t look too good after the restart and even less so when I got hit at Turn 12. Thankfully I saw the Aston Martin coming and didn’t commit fully to the corner. It ended up saving us with all the other incidents that happened there late. So we’ll take it and move on to Indianapolis.”