Reigning Pirelli World Challenge GTS champion Lawson Aschenbach returns to defend his title with Blackdog Speed Shop this season and continue his climb up the series record books.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Aschenbach looks ahead to the season to come, including the addition of SprintX to the GTS calendar and more.
How excited are you to be back with Blackdog Speed Shop once again in GTS to defend your title?
“It’s an honor to rejoin Blackdog Speed Shop to defend our titles in the GTS Class. When we first spoke about joining forces more than six years ago, I knew this was going to be a special place.
“Tony Gaples and Ray Sorenson have a fantastic organization that is professional, hard-working, dedicated, and focused on success.
“Typically, drivers don’t have the luxury of spending more than a year or two with teams, so I’m proud that we are continuing together for a fifth season!”
What does the addition of SprintX to GTS do for the championship?
“The addition of SprintX creates a new outlook for the championship. You now have a co-driver for more than half of the races, so teamwork is the name of the game!
“You’ll need to be on the same page when it comes to setup and strategy. I think the excitement level of the races will be increased, especially during out-laps!”
What is it like to know you will be sharing your car with a GM legend like Andy Pilgrim for the SprintX rounds?
“It’s awesome! Andy Pilgrim and I were teammates 11 years ago in SPEED World Challenge driving for Cadillac Racing.
“We both have been racing Chevrolet and Cadillac cars for a long time, so it’s fitting we are co-driving a Camaro GT4.R! His experience and knowledge about Pirelli World Challenge will be a great asset to the team.
“I’m looking forward to the first SprintX weekend at COTA!”
What do you make of the level of competition in GTS based on the entry list you’ve seen so far?
“I’m very confident that our Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R can compete against any car and on any track.
“We’ve got a full year of information that will help us in our quest to repeat as champions, but there is no mistaking the level of competition.
“The bar is going to be set higher for the 2018 season. Every team and driver will need to execute flawlessly to win races.
“We are fortunate to have Tony Gaples and Michael Cooper in the No. 11 car and they will be a force during the year as well.”
The season-opener at St. Pete is the only street course on the GTS schedule. What makes it a unique challenge?
“I’m sad to see fewer street courses these days, and I miss racing at places like Long Beach, Detroit, Toronto and Denver. I’m glad to see St. Pete continuing on the schedule.
“This place brings out the best in drivers and forces them to live on the edge. It’s not easy to throw 3000-pound race cars between concrete barriers while traveling at 130 mph, but I love every bit of it!
“There is nothing quite like being in a city, with countless fans, and hearing the loud rumble of race cars!”