First GT4 America Weekend in the Books for Blackdog Racing

First GT4 America Weekend in the Books for Blackdog Racing

Blackdog Racing began its Pirelli GT4 America era with a weekend full of learning with its new No. 9 Nissan Z NISMO GT4 racecar. Michael Cooper and Tony Gaples each showed decent pace and the car ran reliably in the pair of 60-minute races to open the 2024 season at Sonoma Raceway.

The pairing teamed for consecutive seventh-place class finishes Saturday and Sunday. There was promise for the latter race with Cooper near the front but some chaos and a crowded track at the start shuffled the No. 9 Nissan slightly back in the pack before the race ended under yellow with seven minutes left and Gapes at the wheel.

In addition, Saturday’s race showed how tough the GT4 America Pro-Am category will be. The day began with an official practice session that doubled as qualifying for the weekend rounds after extensive track repairs canceled all of Friday’s running. That limited the Blackdog team to just the 45-minute session to tune and set up the Nissan from a couple of test sessions Wednesday.
Gaples ran a trouble-free stint to the mandatory driver change just past the 30-minute mark. He ran seventh in class, and Cooper rejoined fifth in Pro-Am. Unfortunately the Blackdog pit stop was under the required 90 seconds and the team had to serve a drive-through penalty, which relegated the No. 9 Nissan to eighth in class. Cooper did manage to pick up a spot in his stint for seventh place.
The next event for Blackdog Racing in Pirelli GT4 America is May 3-5 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway.

MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: “Our first event in GT4 America with the new Nissan Z NISMO GT4 is in the books. There were some positives but other places where we can make some big leaps. We have a lot of smart and experienced guys on this team with a lot of race wins and championships. I believe with more time in this car, we’ll be racing at the front.”

TONY GAPLES, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: “There is definitely room for improvement in a lot of areas. But that is to be expected with a new car in a new series. Losing a couple of test sessions and a full day of practice didn’t help. I didn’t feel very comfortable in the car as a result. Hopefully we can go back and figure out what we need to do to make the car better for Sebring.”

RAY SORENSON, TEAM MANAGER, BLACKDOG RACING: “Not exactly the results we were hoping for in our first race. The main thing is we got through the weekend with very little issues and our Nissan is in good shape. There’s a lot of feedback from both Michael and Tony that we’ll go through and put in place for the next race at Sebring that hopefully will put us closer to the front.”