Mantella Autosport Strong in Daytona Debut
Daytona Beach, Fla. (24 January 2013) – When Mantella Autosport arrived at Daytona International Speedway for the season-opening round of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSC), the experienced group – yet new to the CTSC paddock – went straight to work proving their strength and capabilities as a team scoring a top-five result in the very first practice session.
The team did not have the qualifying run anticipated as a long red flag during the quick 15-minute qualifying session saw just one opportunity for a flying fast lap. The No. 8 Powered by Spyder/Gulf Aston Martin Vantage started from 21st position on the grid amongst the field of 68 other cars.
The team didn’t stay in that position for long though, as Anthony Mantella had a nearly flawless stint and expertly navigated the sleek black Aston Martin up the field. In fact, Mantella capitalized on the advice of his former coach and current co-driver, Mark Wilkins and posted his fastest lap of the weekend during his stint in the race.
“Today was great, I just remained calm,” said Mantella of his Daytona debut. “It was my first time competing at a high level here at Daytona and I didn’t get overwhelmed. I kind of knew what to expect with the coaching that I have had. Nothing was really out of the ordinary. The competition was tough and I was just trying to get by at every turn. So I just remained calm and didn’t allow myself to get overwhelmed and remember how I have been coached and drove the car the best I could.”
Mantella’s excellent execution and speedy stint left the team within podium range when they pitted for a driver change, fuel and tires under the second of five total full-course cautions. Unfortunately a miscommunication about protocol under yellow gave the team a penalty that resulted in Wilkins falling a lap down.
Despite the issue, Wilkins drove his stint through the caution-filled race and brought the No. 8 machine home to a 22nd place finish, bringing the car home clean and ending the race on a positive note.
“I think the biggest thing is that Anthony did a really great job,” said Wilkins. “His stint was just fantastic. So that is an extremely positive takeaway from today. It is a bit of a tough result but the positive is Anthony’s great performance in a new car and new series. So we are looking forward to turning it all around having a much better finish at Sebring.”
Ultimately, the team is focused on building on the data they have learned from this race and look forward to scoring positive results in the future.
“I am so thrilled with Anthony Mantella’s drive,” said Team Manager Andrew Wojteczko. “He got out there and he showed us the best pace we have seen from him all weekend. He is really applying everything we give him in the data analysis and he is really developing as a driver and that is so exciting to see, so I am thrilled about that. It was nice to see him having fun out there really racing with some well-matched cars. The series does a really great job with car pairing, so we are excited to be here. Unfortunately we lost the timing and scoring and there was a bit of confusion with the wave by and the penalty really put an end to our day. But no doubt we had the speed and we are looking forward to challenging for wins in the future.”
The team looks forward to being back in action and scoring those positive results at the next round of Sebring International Raceway March 13-14.