Blackdog Perseveres for Seventh in COTA GT4 Enduro

Blackdog Perseveres for Seventh in COTA GT4 Enduro

Things looked great for Blackdog Racing at Circuit of The Americas on Saturday… until they didn’t. The team’s No. 9 Nissan Z NISMO GT4 started on pole, led overall and in the Pro-Am class for multiple laps before an issue in pitlane relegated Michael Cooper and Tony Gaples to a seventhth-place finish in Pirelli GT4 America’s three-hour endurance race.

Cooper continued Blackdog Racing’s momentum from its class victory two weeks prior at Sebring with the overall pole position earlier in the day. That translated to race pace as Gaples took off at the green flag and led overall for two laps around the 20-turn, 3.4-mile circuit ahead of the pro-level drivers in the series’ Silver class.

In the Pro-Am fight, Gaples led in class by as much as 12 seconds in the opening 50 minutes. He brought the No. 9 Nissan into the pitlane for the team’s first stop for a driver change to Cooper, fuel and a four-tire change. Disaster struck, however, as one of the left-side wheels became cross-threaded when it was put back on, despite the crew’s best efforts. Following a trip to the paddock and 30 minutes later, Cooper and Blackdog Racing returned to the track but several laps down.

Gaples and Cooper were undeterred as they gained back three spots in class to get back in the points – critical as the race was worth double the usual allotment.

Blackdog Racing’s next event in Pirelli GT4 America is July 20-21 at Virginia International Raceway.

MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: "The Blackdog Racing team did a great job to get our Nissan in a place to go for pole. From my side, I made sure to go maximum risk with the track limits and curbs to produce that lap time. Tony did a great job to build a good gap to P2 in his first stint. But the wheel issue was unfortunate. The crew did whatever they could to work through it. These things happen in long-distance races, so it was nice to get back out and turn some good laps. We were able to salvage a few points for the team in the end, so we can take solace in that.”

TONY GAPLES, NO. 9 BLACKDOG RACING NISSAN Z NISMO GT4: “It’s tough to run up front early, be fast and then have the race come apart like that. But that’s part of racing. Our guys did a great job getting us back on track. We’ll rebound and get ready for VIR and hopefully another win.”