Courtesy kylemarcelli.com :
Team’s first race with pair of Chevrolet Camaro Z28.Rs brings top-ten finish
January 27, 2015 (Toronto, Ontario) – Friday afternoon’s BMW Performance 200 at Daytona International Speedway, the kickoff to the 2015 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, saw the pair of Mantella Autosport Chevrolet Camaro Z28.Rs in competition for the first time.
After two hours and thirty minutes of racing, the no. 8 Mantella Autosport Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R would finish the race in ninth position in the GS class, with the no. 80 Mantella Autosport / MBRP Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R finishing in 12th position.
The no. 8 Mantella Autosport Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R of Anthony Mantella and Mark Wilkins qualified in 14th position. In the opening lap, Mantella passed several cars but also made minor contact with another car that caused damage to the front of the Camaro. The team elected to keep Mantella on track despite the damage, and repaired it during the car’s first pit stop.
With a long green flag period at the end of the race, Wilkins – who replaced Mantella during the second stop – ran well within the top-ten during his stint but was slowed on the final lap as his Camaro ran low on fuel, and crossed the finish line in ninth position.
“We are beyond fortunate to have a top-ten finish,” said Mantella. “After months of intense preparation and anticipation, I was excited to finally take the green flag at Daytona. I quickly passed a handful of cars in the first lap only to have the front grill and valence break apart because of a small contact. The damage had an immediate effect on my ability to see the track. My engineer Andrew – a strategy genius – determined the best strategy was to keep me on the track until it made sense to pit for repairs.”
“Mark Wilkins continues to inspire and impress me with his masterful driving and I could not possibly be any luckier than to have this man as my co-driver, coach and friend. Wilkins’ tremendous skill carried the Z28.R through the second portion of the race into eighth position almost finishing there until the car had to coast on fumes through the line, placing ninth. My entire team is dedicated to having a successful season and we all work incredibly hard to reach our goals. I am looking forward to Sebring. The Z28.R will perform very well on that track.”
Wilkins was happy with the result in Mantella Autosport’s first race with the Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R
“Anthony drove a strong first stint and kept focused after early contact dislodged the front grill and required repair,” said Wilkins. “I drove hard in an attempt to get back up front, and a top-ten finish is a positive start to the season. We will work hard to come out of the box with a quick car at Sebring where I think the track will be better suited to the car.”
The no. 80 Mantella Autosport / MBRP Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R of Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli started the race in 19th position. Barkey, in his second season in the series, advanced up to eighth position during the opening stint of the race before handing the car over to Marcelli. After taking the car over, Marcelli ran in tenth position before the final pit stop under full course caution. During the stop, his car made contact with a tire left in his pit stall and he was assessed a drive-through penalty.
“Daytona was an opportunity to see just how capable our team really is,” said Barkey. “Our Mantella Autosport / MBRP Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is fast, the team is dedicated, and Kyle and I are capable of running up front. Unfortunately a simple mistake in the pits cost us a much better finish than twelfth. We will now focus on performing our best at Sebring.”
The penalty, assessed when the race returned to green flag conditions, put Marcelli’s car more than 30 seconds behind the race leaders. Despite running a pace similar to the leaders, with no cautions in the final 45 minutes, Marcelli was unable to make up additional track position and finished in twelfth position.
“Unfortunately, we did not have the result that we wanted to start the season with,” said Marcelli. “As we know, at this level of competition, we need to make no mistakes to win. My co-driver Martin Barkey drove a great first stint and it was exciting to watch him battle for position. After taking the wheel of the car at the 45-minute mark, I was pleased with our pace and our position in the top-ten. We know the Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R is a good race car and Mantella Autosport is a good team. Expect us on the podium shortly.”
The next Continental Tire Challenge race will be on Friday, March 20 at Sebring International Raceway.
About Mantella Autosport
Mantella Autosport is an all-Canadian team composed of dedicated individuals with experience at the highest levels of motorsport united to achieve continued success, competing in the 2015 Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series with two Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R race cars. Mantella Autosport’s partners include General Motors, Gulf Oil, MBRP Performance Exhaust and Spyder.
For more information, visit www.mantellaautosport.com.