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Pirelli GT4 America

Gaples to Miss VIR Due to Eye Surgery

Longtime SRO America/World Challenge entrant to miss first race since 2017…

Photo: Haston Pitman/Blackdog Speed Shop

Tony Gaples will miss this weekend’s Pirelli GT4 America Sprint season restart due to a recent surgical procedure, with the team to field only a single McLaren 570S GT4 for Michael Cooper at Virginia International Raceway.

Gaples recently underwent emergency surgery to his right eye, which will mark the first time the accomplished team owner/driver has missed an SRO America/World Challenge race since 2017.

He hopes to return to the wheel of the No. 11 McLaren beginning at the next round at Sonoma Raceway in August.

“The only thing more painful that missing an event weekend is the pain I felt in my right eye last week,” said Gaples. “The procedure to repair a broken capillary and retina was really unpleasant but hopefully all this will be behind me before Sonoma and I can get back in the McLaren.

“It’s a tough decision. I was really looking forward to getting back to racing at VIR – a track I really enjoy.

“It’s disappointing that I won’t be part of the championship picture but this needed be done. We will be in good hands with Michael in the No. 10 McLaren all weekend to represent Blackdog Speed Shop.”

Cooper will arrive at VIR tied for the GT4 Sprint championship lead following a victory and third place finish in the pair of season-opening races at Circuit of The Americas in March.

The McLaren factory driver will again be pulling double duty between Blackdog and Flying Lizard Motorsports, where he will drive in the SprintX races alongside Erin Voegel.

“The weekend will be strange all the away around – three races, no fans and no Tony,” said Cooper. “It’s really bad luck for him to miss this weekend with the great start he had at COTA.

“I know he’s really disappointed to not be able to make it.

“We’ll continue to do what we always have at Blackdog Speed Shop – get the most points and best results out of the weekend no matter the challenge thrown at us. It’s nothing new for us and it’s something we embrace.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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