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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Tony Gaples

Tony Gaples of Blackdog Speed Shop is the focus of this week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass…

Photo: Blackdog Speed Shop

Tony Gaples and his Blackdog Speed Shop team have been a staple of the American GT racing scene for years.

The team won the Pirelli World Challenge GTS championship last year with Lawson Aschenbach, who returns to defend his title this year while Gaples is prepared to mount a challenge in the GTSA ranks.

How does the Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R compare to previous Camaros you have driven?

“The cornering speed in the Camaro GT4.R was a big adjustment. It took a lot of confidence early on to push it in the turns.

“The inside of the new Camaro was different than what I had previously driven. The cockpit and function buttons on the steering wheel take some getting used to although the paddle shift system on the Camaro GT4.R is pretty smooth.”

How has the adoption of GT4 regulations changed the game in the Pirelli World Challenge GS class?

“It’s much more oriented to factory-built cars. The homologation process means there are limited areas where teams can make changes. That and BoP are meant to create close competition.”

What has the team been up to in the offseason to prepare for 2018?

“We’ve been working on my new car after the crash at Sonoma. Once it’s finished, we’ll be off testing ahead of St. Petersburg.”

What are your goals for the coming season?

“The same as every year: do the best I can and improve throughout the year. As a team, we also want to defend our GTS titles – Driver, Manufacturer and Team.”

What event on the PWC calendar do you most look forward to?

“Watkins Glen, for sure. We haven’t raced there in a long time. You can’t have a list of great American tracks without it. Portland will be fun too, although it could get pretty warm up there in the summer.”

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