Bowmanville, Ontario (July 11, 2015) – Mantella Autosport challenged for the lead and proved it was a contender for victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The Gulf Oil No. 8 Camaro Z/28.R of Anthony Mantella and Mark Wilkins recorded its best finish of the season of fifth after starting ninth, while the MBRP Inc. No. 80 Camaro Z/28.R of Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli finished sixth after starting eighth.
The two-hour, 30-minute race featured five yellow flags, and the caution periods played into the team’s race strategy.
In the first hour of the race, the No. 8 and No. 80 were running first and second, respectively, in the Grand Sport class, with Wilkins and Marcelli dueling for the lead. The two cars were on a different pit strategy than the rest of the field and pitted with 30 minutes under green, dropping in position.
Both Marcelli and Wilkins recovered to their respective finishes, hoping the leading cars would have to pit for fuel and tires.
Mantella Autosport had no such luck but walked away proud of the fight it produced for guests from Gulf Oil Canada and MBRP Inc., and family that came to support the team.
“Anthony did an awesome job today,” Wilkins said. “He gave me a clean car and a perfect car to go out and just run. The yellows sort of helped and sort of didn’t. They definitely got us in the game. We took two tires on the last stop toward the end, and we knew we had plenty of fuel. We knew the guys in front of us would be close (on fuel).
“We were strong today, for sure. It’s just so hard to pass here at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. All in all, it’s a good day for Mantella Autosport, the Camaro Z/28.R and Team Chevy.”
Mantella handed a smooth-running race car to Wilkins after fighting off competitors and gaining position while battling with the No. 80 of Barkey and Marcelli.
“The strategy worked perfectly at the end,” Mantella said. “In the beginning, it wasn’t working out, but then it came to us. What was supposed to happen was the cars in front of us were supposed to run out of fuel or run out of tires. It didn’t work that way. Those guys conserved their fuel, conserved their tires. They’re pro drivers, so you never know what’s going to happen. So we’re fifth and sixth, and it’s a great showing at our home track.
“During the driver change, Mark only took two tires and was running with guys that took four tires. That says something about Mark’s capability that he can only take two and still run the pace with the guys up front. That really says a lot about what kind of a driver he is.”
Marcelli and Barkey in the No. 80 Camaro Z/28.R were in tune to the steps of the No. 8. The teammates spent a majority of their race fighting for the front, alongside Wilkins and Mantella.
The No. 80 car ran a similar pit strategy to the No. 8, though it opted for four tires during the driver change.
“It was a good showing for Mantella Autosport for both cars to be up front for a good portion of the race,” Marcelli said. “I had a lot of fun. It was tough. We had a lot of work to do going into the race. To lead a good portion of it was a lot of fun and was a good show for the home crowd. It proved to myself that I’m capable and proved to the team that we are capable.
“Our strategy was a bit different from the leaders, so we were always a bit off-sequence. The difficult thing here is passing. It’s such a fast track and there are two brake zones, and if you’re defensive through there, it’s like follow the leader. I threw a ‘Hail Mary’ and got side-by-side with our sister car a couple of times. But overall it was a good showing, and I’m happy with our result.”
Barkey and Marcelli were hoping to best their top finish of fourth place, posted in mid-March at Sebring International Raceway. But their finish encouraged the team and showed progress.
“Overall, it was a great race,” Barkey said. “Kyle and I both are happy with our driving. The team provided a great car. Hats off to Mantella Autosport. We started the race off battling back in seventh, eighth and ninth. We had a great race with the guys in the No. 41 Nissan, and between Anthony and I working together and being able to fend off the Nissan, I was able to find a position on Anthony. We just continued to work together and work our way through.
“The first pit stop we found ourselves in second and third, and later on in the race Kyle and Mark found first and second. I think it was a really good showing. We’ve probably got over 100 guests here as a team, and we’re excited to put on a good show for everybody. I think we finished where we needed to. It would have been nice to finish a little higher in the finish, but it was good race.”
Prior to the strong finish in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race, the team had a race against the clock.
Mantella Autosport spent six hours repairing the No. 8 to ensure it would not miss qualifying after damage suffered in a crash during the first practice. Being close to home paid off for the team as the crew made a trip back to its Toronto-based shop for parts.
Round 6 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will take place July 24-25 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Round 5 action from CTMP will air at noon (ET) Sunday, July 19 on Fox Sports 1.