Longtime Chevrolet entrant Blackdog Speed Shop will make the switch to McLaren 570S GT4 machinery in Pirelli GT4 America Sprint competition, in a radical shakeup for the Tony Gaples-owned operation.
Announced on Friday, the team will field two of the updated McLaren GT4s in the 50-minute Sprint races this year, with Gaples so far the only confirmed driver.
It marks the end of a 16-year relationship with GM, having exclusively run Corvettes and Camaros since the team’s inception in 2002.
Most recently, Blackdog, the most succesful team in GTS/GT4 series competition, campaigned Camaro GT4.Rs in Sprint and SprintX with Gaples and Lawson Aschenbach as its anchor drivers.
“This is different in a lot of positive ways,” Gaples said. “We’re thrilled to start a new chapter of our program with McLaren.
“We’ve seen with our own eyes how competitive of a package it has been, and I’m impressed with the level of support from McLaren Customer Racing.”
Blackdog has claimed four drivers championships, two teams titles and 25 class victories with the Bow-Tie in series competition, with Gaples one of only three drivers to have recorded more than 200 start, all in GM machinery.
“While this points us toward a great future with McLaren, I also want to acknowledge our history with Chevrolet in World Challenge,” Gaples said.
“We had a lot of great seasons with wins and championships over the years.
“It’ll be a great fight this year with the Camaros and all the other manufacturers that have come to GT4 in recent seasons. We’ll be ready.”
While yet to be announced, Sportscar365 understands the second driver will race for overall GT4 Sprint honors.
It would mark McLaren’s first Pro class entry in GT4 America in several years.
“Blackdog Speed Shop has shown itself as a true title contender over the past seasons, so with this enviable track record, and the strong results recorded by the 570S GT4, we are looking forward to challenging for more race wins and championship successes going forward,” said Dan Walmsley, McLaren Automotive director of motorsport.
The GT4 America Sprint season kicks off next month at St. Pete.