Watkins Glen, N.Y. (June 27, 2015) – The No. 8 and No. 80 of Mantella Autosport finished in the top 10 Saturday in the Continental Tire 150 at Watkins Glen International despite racing in heavy rain.
The No. 8 Gulf Oil Camaro Z/28.R of Anthony Mantella and Sasha Anis finished eighth after starting 10th while the No. 80 MBRP Inc. Camaro Z/28.R of Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli finished ninth after starting 12th, both in the Grand Sport class.
Round 4 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge took place under challenging conditions, with constant rainfall that induced spins and wall contact by many cars.
The rain and chaos limited green-flag racing. There was only one green lap in the last our of the two-hour, 30-minute race. A red flag was thrown with 30 minutes left in the race, as cars were parked for 17 minutes in the pit. The red flag was followed with a 13-minute caution period to the checkered flag.
Both the No. 8 and No. 80 Camaro Z/28.R ran clean races with fast pace, avoiding all on-track incidents.
Barkey was held up behind another GS-class car and was pushed deep in the field behind cars in the Street Tuner class. He maneuvered through the ST traffic, regaining position near the top of the GS class quickly.
“It is fun racing here at Watkins Glen at any time,” Barkey said. “I really enjoyed my time in the Camaro Z/28.R. Unfortunately in the class split, there was a GS car that wouldn’t advance and kept me back.
“It’s a little disappointing to see a race like that where we showed good pace. Both Kyle and Sasha had some of the quickest pace out there toward the end. It would have been an exciting finish.”
Team Owner Mantella was proud of the hard work and dedication Mantella Autosport showed over the weekend. Mantella’s personal hard work shined under heavy cloud cover as he skillfully maneuvered the wet 11-turn, 3.4-mile circuit and traffic.
“It was a great race,” Mantella said. “Our Camaro Z/28.R was awesome. I’d never raced it at the this track in the rain, and after 10 laps I felt invincible in the car and could really go flat out of the apexes to catch the other cars. The team did a great job.
“I would have liked to see a green flag at the end. It was disappointing, yet another decision surrounding this event that set us back, starting with the BoP adjustment before the race. We eat, sleep, drink and love this sport: All we want is a chance to show our true capabilities on a properly balanced playing field. But in the end, Chevy finished on top, and that’s all that matters.”
Lead Engineer Andrew Wojteckzo echoed Mantella’s thoughts on the team’s work ethic but was disappointed his drivers and crew didn’t receive more time to show their capabilities.
“I’m happy with the two top-10 finishes,” Wojteckzo said. “Unfortunately, the eighth- and ninth-place finishes doesn’t really reflect what we had today. The setup for the rain was spot-on, and the drivers did an awesome job. We could see it in the lap times, and we had some of the fastest cars on track.
“We were hoping for an opportunity to show that. I guess mixed emotions. It was incredibly frustrating to watching the time tick down toward the end and just realizing we weren’t going to get the opportunity.”
No. 80 co-driver Marcelli and No. 8 co-driver Anis received the least amount of green-flag racing. They participated in the second half of the race, which included long, continuous caution periods.
“In a nutshell, I was frustrated with how the last 40 minutes ran under yellow,” Marcelli said. “For us, we’re a Pro-Am lineup, and our chance to race up front comes in the last hour of the race. Our starting driver’s job is to hand off the car in good condition, on the lead lap and in decent position. Then we try to race our way to the front in the end. Having run the last 40 minutes under yellow, we just didn’t receive the opportunity to do that.
“Our pace was really good. I understand that just prior the yellow both the 8 car and the 80 car were two of the quicker cars on track, running in the (2:) 25’s in the wet. The car was really good; I had a lot of fun. Frustrated with how the end of the race played out, though.”
Anis shared similar sentiments.
“From where we were starting from, we wanted to make up some positions,” Anis said. “The yellows didn’t come at the right time for us for us to kind of attack. The end of the race, the last 30 minutes would have been a great time to attack, and IMSA just decided to not let us race those last 30 minutes. We didn’t get to see where we would end up, but I guess the car’s in one piece so we can look at it that way.”
Mantella Autosport’s next race will be at its home track of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge weekend will take place July 9-12.