Look for Mantella Autosport to step up its Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge program in 2015.
After running an Aston Martin Vantage in the team’s debut season, the Toronto-based team has purchased a pair of Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.Rs, along with plenty of spares and equipment, to race in 2015. The team sold its Aston Martin to an existing team.
The team had its final run with the No. 8 Powered by Spyder/Fult Lubricants Aston Martin Vantage in Friday’s season finale at Road Atlanta. Antony Mantella qualified eighth, turning the car over to Mark Wilkins in sixth place. Wilkins was battling Robin Liddell for second place when the two cars had contact and the Aston spun coming to the white flag, resulting in a 12th-place finish.
“Our goal was to win the race and end the season on a high note,” Wilkins said. “We were fast all week and knew we had a shot at a great result. Anthony drove his best stint of the season and I couldn’t be happier with his performance.”
Mantella plans to keep the same driver lineup for next season, and potentially will run the second Camaro if he can find drivers for a full-season program. Andrew Wojteczko will continue in his roles as team director and engineer.
“What a way to finish the year!” Mantella said. “We haven’t caught too many breaks this season but handing the car off to Mark in good shape in seventh place was euphoric. I slipped into the zone and didn’t mis-shift the car once. We’re coming back here! IMSA is our home now, we’ve made some great friends, grown as a team and learned more than people think.”
A series rookie in 2014, Mantella moved to the series from the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada by Michelin, where he was third in the Masters class in 2013 and sixth in 2012.
So new, it doesn’t have a name: Multimatic Motorsports ended the season with a victory for the No. 158 Miller Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R driven by Billy Johnson and Ian James. It was the first triumph of the year, and possibly the last for the Mustang Boss 302R – at least in Multimatic livery.
Next year the team hopes to upgrade to the latest Mustang – “So new it has no name,” said Multimatic team owner Larry Holt. “In the industry, it’s known by its code name, S550.”
Holt said the new Mustang will have better aerodynamics, along with an independent rear suspension, “finally!” The Mustangs have had a stick axle for the past 20 years.
Holt said that Multimatic developed the FR500C in 2005 and the Boss 302R in 2010, so the new car will be a natural progression for the Toronto-based team.
Corey Fergus had his best finish of the season in the finale, placing third in ST in the No. 88 Rebel Rock Racing/Ingersoll Rand/Oakley Porsche Cayman co-driven by Tom Dyer.
“We didn’t expect it today, starting nearly dead last after qualifying troubles,” Fergus said. “It was a very exciting day for me and Tom, coming through the field. We’ve had power issues for the last four races, and everything came together this weekend. The team has been working incredibly hard. They gave us power, and Tom and I knew what to do with it.”
Fergus finished eighth in the opener at Daytona and sixth at Indianapolis in his lone top-10 finishes prior to the finale.
Rebel Rock also placed two cars in the top 10 in GS, with Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli sixth and Al Carter and Brett Sandberg ninth in a pair of Porsche 911s.
Cameron Lawrence won the first race for the Dodge Challenge earlier this year in the modern era Trans-Am series. At Road Atlanta, he was looking to give the Hyundai its first triumph in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, joining Irish Mike’s Racing for the second time this season.
“They’re still developing the car, and it has a lot of potential,” said Lawrence, who enters the Trans-Am finale at Daytona in November with a one-point lead over Adam Andretti in a bid for a second straight championship. His teammates this year have included veterans Pete Halsmer and Tommy Kendall, and he will join Wally Dallenbach Jr. at Daytona.
Lawrence made his Continental Tire Challenge debut at Road America last year, finishing sixth in ST for Mitchum Motorsports. He rejoined the team in February, running the Sunoco Challenge Camaro in GS with Lewis Plato in the top 10 before the car’s retirement. He ran three times with Irish Mike’s, running more competitively than the 14th at Indianapolis, 13th at Road America and 15th at Road Atlanta indicate. He qualified sixth – two positions behind teammate Alex Bolanos – at Road Atlanta, and the cars were running second and third after 10 laps before both encountered problems.
Bolanos made his Continental Tire Challenge debut at Road Atlanta, qualifying fourth. After “a million years” racing in Skip Barber competition, he moved to Spec Mazda Miata, where he won SCCA and NASA championship. The 30-year-old Miami driver knew “Irish Mike” Flynn from club racing.
Pit Notes: With Dane Cameron concentrating on what was ultimately a successful bid to capture the TUDOR Championship GT Daytona title, Bryan Ortiz joined Tim Bell in the No. 28 Tim Bell Racing Nissan 370Z. The car was a backup to the one that was badly damaged in an opening-lap incident at Circuit of The Americas. The team went on to finish fifth in its second-best result of its debut season. Bell and Cameron finished fourth at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. … Austin Cindric drove in his first sports car race, qualifying and finishing seventh with David Levine in the No. 78 Racers Edge Motorsports Gary Yeomans Ford/Keeper Securities Ford Mustang Boss 302R. A 16-year-old high school student form Concord, N.C., his background is in USF2000 and Global Rally Cross. … Another 16-year-old, Britt Casey Jr., had his best result in three races in the No. 27 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5. The high school junior from Barrington, Ill, placed 16th. He co-drove with fellow Mazda aficionado Christian Szymczak, the 2013 Mazda MX-5 champion. … Danny Steyn made his Continental Tire Challenge debut at Road Atlanta, joining John De Barros in finishing 25th in the No. 85 All Out Auto Motorsports Mazda Speed 3, a car formerly campaigned by Gareth Nixon. Steyn, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has won multiple championships driving Spec Mazda Miatas.