Blackdog Speed Shop left the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with encouraging performances and plenty of notes following its first racing weekend with its new McLaren 570S GT4s.
Both Michael Cooper and Tony Gaples continued to show good race pace Sunday in the second of two Pirelli GT4 America races on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida. While not able to compete with the front-runners in the 50-minute sprint race, both Blackdog Speed Shop McLarens were on their way to respectable showings before late-race incidents spoiled the day.
McLaren factory driver Cooper ran a comfortable pace and was in line for a sixth-place overall finish before a mechanical issue brought the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop to a halt just before the start/finish line with one lap left. Cooper had moved up to fourth at the start before the performance gap between the front-runners proved to be too much for the three-time World Challenge champion to overcome.
Gaples, in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren, was looking for a second straight GT4 Am podium finish following Saturday’s runner-up result. In the thick of the fight for the class lead with less than five minutes left, Gaples spun at the first corner but rejoined in fourth.
He appeared on the way to another good points haul before being punted by another competitor on the final lap. Gaples was classified eighth in class pending a review of the final-lap incident.
Blackdog Speed Shop’s next event is a return to the Long Beach Street Circuit on April 12-14.
MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 10 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “Overall it was an okay weekend. Sunday’s results weren’t representative of our level of preparation and effort. We’re not yet sure what happened at the end; the car just came to a stop. Everybody will dig through the information we have to sort that out. It’s unfortunate because we were going to salvage a decent result for the car’s performance level this weekend. We’ll take time to go over everything from the weekend and get our McLarens ready for Long Beach.”
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4:“Another day of what might have been. It was a typical street race with a lot of tough racing from the get-go. The start wasn’t the best but it was encouraging how hard I could push in the McLaren throughout. The first spin at the end was a matter of seeing an opening and going for the win. The last one was plainly and simply being spun around; not the first time I’d been hit this weekend by the same person. That sort of action is unacceptable. Frustrating end to what had been a positive weekend.”
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.