Alton, Virginia. (August 24, 2015) – Mantella Autosport’s Kyle Marcelli and Martin Barkey brought the No. 80 MBRP Inc. Camaro Z/28.R to a fifth-place finish overall August 24th Virginia International Raceway.
Two hours of track time was made available during the promoter test day Thursday afternoon and it was clear the #80 car rolled off the trailer with setup close to optimal and were able to focus on fine tuning for the race. Long run fuel tests as well as long run tire evaluations proved to be invaluable in both cases.
Team owner and driver of the #8 Z28R, Anthony Mantella elected to sit out this round as a result of IMSA’s decision to maintain the balance of performance, despite a clear display at Road America that the Camaro Z28R is unable to compete on pace in its currently mandated handicapped configuration. Despite the #8 car not competing, it was made available to fans and spectators alike to get up close with.
Martin Barkey qualified the #80 Mantella Autosport/MBRP Z28R on the outside of row 4 alongside the #6 Stevenson Z28R, doing a great job achieving his fastest lap time of the event when it counted, and doing it on lap 2. Regulations mandate starting the race on your qualification tires, so getting it done early and saving equipment for race day is important.
Weather conditions were hot and humid leading into the race. Martin Barkey took the green flag and had this to say about his stint: “Another great race weekend has come and gone. I really enjoy VIR, it’s a great track with lots of unique characteristics making it fun to race. The Mantella team prepared the #80 MBRP Chevy Z28R Camaro perfectly, we were strong right out of the box. I think we were better this weekend than the P5 result we received. That said we have two more races in 2016, we plan on making the very most of them.”
Martin Barkey ran a flawless stint, pitting under the first yellow for right side tires and a fuel splash, then pitting after meeting drive time for the remaining fuel and tires along with the driver change. Perfect execution by the team got Marcelli out and ready to push towards the front. A caution period with 1:12 minutes remaining bunched the field up and presented an opportunity to install 4 fresh tires and a full fuel load. One lap after the restart the #158 Multimatic Mustang opted to use Marcelli’s #80 MBRP Camaro as a braking berm and sent Marcelli into the grass. Over 10 seconds were needed to recover and saw the lead pack check out. At this point team strategist Andrew Wojteczko changed gears. “Once we lost the track position after contact, I knew if we could stretch to the end on fuel we’d have a chance. I had Kyle monitoring the Liter per lap page and trying to hit our target. It was going to be too tight, without a full yellow procedure we wouldn’t be able to make it to the end. We splashed fuel and left side tires and pushed hard to the end.” It was for the best as that yellow never came and ultimately resulted in both leaders of the race stalled on the track out of fuel.
“It was an interesting race to say the least. We were a strong car all weekend and felt very confident with our car for the race. We are happy to finish in the top five, but disappointed as we know that we had a podium taken away from us after being punted off track. Martin Barkey continues to improve each time in the car. His confidence and comfort is evident. Mantella Autosport did a superb job from car set up, to pit stops and strategy. I feel that we did the best we could for everything that was in our control. With two races remaining we are targeting a top five in the championship points.” Said Marcelli.
“I’m thrilled to see the team continue to perform at such a high level, while I definitely missed being in the seat, watching Kyle get knocked off track and no action being taken by IMSA was another reminder of why I made the decision I did. I will continue to wait and see if the series takes the necessary steps to correct on track behaviour and the imbalance present in vehicle parity.” Team owner, Anthony Mantella.
COTA is up next September 18th, be sure to follow the Mantella Autosport website (www.mantellaautosport.com) facebook and Instagram accounts for all the latest details.