Pirelli World Challenge GTS championship leader Lawson Aschenbach says he’ll be looking to maximize points opportunities, with his Camaro GT4.R at an apparent performance disadvantage to the rest of the competition this weekend at Utah Motorsports Campus.
Aschenbach qualified the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop entry 10th for this afternoon’s first Sprint GTS race, more than 1.7 seconds off the pace from than the pole-sitting Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR, in what the former series champion said has been a struggle since unloading on Thursday.
The Camaro has received a 3mm smaller air restrictor for Utah, in the SRO’s high altitude-specific Balance of Performance, which has seen he and teammate Tony Gaples near the bottom of the time sheets all weekend.
While holding a sizable 87-point lead in the drivers’ championship, on the heels of the car’s first PWC win at Mid-Ohio last month, Aschenbach admitted it’s been “very disappointing” not to have any chance of a repeat victory but is mindful of the championship outlook.
“Finishing is the No. 1 thing,” Aschenbach told Sportscar365. “You have to collect points, you have to be smart in situations like this.
“It’s clear the Balance of Performance is way off. The motivation behind it, who knows what it was.
“We’re going to struggle this weekend and it’s very disappointing that we can’t keep this Camaro up front.
“The guys have been working so hard this year and to not have any shot, in any way whatsoever, is very frustrating.
“It’s one of those times where you have to take a deep breath and focus forward and collect as many points as possible.”
Aschenbach said he’s been forced to take a different approach to the pair of 50-minute races this weekend.
His closest championship rival, the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano GT of Ian James, qualified 7th and like the Camaro, has been handed a reduced 55mm air restrictor for this weekend.
“Because of the box we’ve been put in, I’m going to have to be as aggressive as I need to be,” Aschennbach said. “I have no choice because every point and finish counts. Any place we can get will be important to the overall picture.
“I’m going to do the best I’ve ever done.”
While having qualified nearly two seconds off the pace, Aschenbach predicts an even bigger struggle ahead in the races, particularly with tire degradation.
“I think qualifying showed where we are on single-lap pace,” he said. “The problem that we’ve got is single-lap is not really telling of our speed at a place like this, because it’s a very bad sign if we are tenth [in qualifying].
“We know tire wear is going to be a big problem for us.
“Being one of the heavier cars in the series, we’re going to struggle after a couple of laps. This is going to make that battle even harder.
“If we can finish in the top-10 I’d be happy; It’s just sad that I’m saying that. Hopefully we can give these guys a solid finish because they deserve it.”