Kicking off 2015 at Daytona

January 28, 2015 Mark38

Every October, there is always plenty of chatter about the off season. To that I say, “What off season?”

From my last post in late October to now, so much has transpired that it’s hard to say there was any break in the action.

So here we are, at the end of January, with perhaps the most intense race weekend of the year already behind us.

So what’s the scoop…

A couple big milestones this past weekend at Daytona. The first, a full year anniversary from the Rolex 24 win; the second, the start of an exciting second season for Mantella Autosport. Let’s kick it off with the 24 and circle back on the new Mantella!

For CORE Autosport, winning the Rolex 24 in 2014 was a huge milestone for the team and drivers. For me, it was my first Rolex 24 victory in over a decade of trying. This is one of the toughest races to win and one I had shared so many memories with my dad.. Winning it was packed with emotions and it will always be a race I will forever remember!

Cycle 365 days and the band was back together at CORE in an attempt to tackle the impossible; two Rolex 24 victories back to back.. We vowed, as a team, to execute as we had a year earlier and tackle the race with focus and precision. We led the majority of the race. We battled plenty of adversity, primarily in the form of tire failures and we pushed on to lead most of the last hour on Sunday.

In racing, nothing is a sure thing. With 20 minutes on the clock and while putting my suit on in preparation for a Rolex victory, it all went… well… up in flames.

It all started with a back marker DP car, down some 90 plus laps, who connected with Colin sending him off course in turn 5. A quick recovery had Colin back on track but unfortunately damage from the contact had hurt the rear suspension resulting in a failure in the bus stop, which sent the car into the wall. Just like that… It’s a brutally tough race but man was it ever fun. I can’t wait to do it again!

This past weekend marked the start of the 2015 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and the kick off of the a totally new Mantella Autosport..

So what’s new exactly?… How about new cars in the form of American Muscle.. Camaro Z28R’s.. a pair of them.. That leads to more new.. A warm welcome to Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli who are co driving the sister #80 Camaro.. Lots of new people, a host of new challenges and a burning desire to kick some butt this season.

Anthony did a rock solid job in qualifying and had a good start to the race.. He was aggressive; perhaps a touch too much after some light contact dislodged the grill of the car and created some unwelcome drag on the banking.. An extra stop set us back some but we pushed hard, stayed on the lead lap and got back into the top 10 by race end.. All in all, a decent start to the season and a great bit of momentum to take to Sebring in March.

Next up will be an exciting announcement.. Stay tuned.

In the mean time, check out this awesome promo video shot by the talented folks at Sawmill Creative.

 

http://www.imsa.com/imsa-tv/episode/mantella-autosport-roar