Strong Debut for Shelby GT350R-C With Pole and Double Top-Ten

Strong Debut for Shelby GT350R-C With Pole and Double Top-Ten

WATKINS GLEN, New York (June 28th, 2015) – Atrocious weather conditions resulted in a red flag being thrown with over 30 minutes remaining in an extremely soggy Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge (CTSC) race at the famous, but badly drained, ex-Grand Prix circuit. Although pole position in the GT350R-C Mustang’s competition debut illustrated the strong pace of the new car, a lack of wet weather testing put the Multimatic Motorsports’ entries on the back foot for Saturday’s almost nautical two and half hour event. Scott Maxwell secured the pole on Friday for the #15 Shelby, taking advantage of dry asphalt under blue skies, and a measured approach of waiting for clear track and cooling off between three distinct full bore laps that netted three times all within 0.1 second, all capable of putting the new car on the front row. Well under a second covered the top seven, once again illustrating the ultra-competitiveness of the strong field. Austin Cindric in the #158 sister Mustang managed to get within the second with a credible Q7 but missed out on challenging Maxwell due to a minor set-up miscue. The race proved somewhat more difficult for the team due to lack of experience with weather that had not been encountered in CTSC competition since Lime Rock in 2012. The GT350R-Cs suffered from lack of rear grip as the serious rain arrived and began to flood the track, as well as windshield fogging due to countermeasures never having been fully tested. This proved extremely tough on the Multimatic drivers who were thankful for the 20 minute red flag stoppage; as the team was given consent to at least clean and treat the inside of the windshields, if not allowed drop the rear springs by a hundred pounds or so!

Maxwell started the race in light rain on a damp track and showed how the new generation of Mustang has the handling side of things sorted as the only competition was the Rum Bum Porsche, a perennially strong damp track performer. The German and American cars traded the lead until Maxwell was penalized for allegedly jumping a restart half an hour into the race. This transpired to be a questionable subjective call based on the #15 apparently pulling out of line before the green, but subsequent in-car camera review proved that the timing was perfect but a missed shift by the Porsche made it look dubious. The resulting drive-through penalty dropped the Mustang to tenth and amongst the ST leaders that were running within a second of the GS cars; a difficult situation to deal with as the rain simultaneously quadrupled in intensity and the windshields began to mist. As Maxwell dropped back, Cindric moved forward in a brave charge through the spray. At half distance both drivers were happy to hand off to their respective partners, Billy Johnson in the #15 and Jade Buford in the #158. With new tires and full fuel things were no better for the replacements as they couldn’t see well enough to avoid the abundant standing water and streams so were on the verge of crashing half a dozen times a lap. The officials deemed the track too dangerous just over half an hour from the end and the field was parked up in the pit lane with all the crews being allowed to clear windshields as Multimatic was not the only team suffering visibility issues. With clear screens both Cindric and Johnson were confident in gaining some places given a few green laps, but it was not to be as the race ran a final four slow laps behind the pace car and finished under yellow with no chance of the GT350R-Cs grabbing some spots and a potential podium for the #158.

Highlights of the weekend were as follows:

  • The new GT350R-Cs proved immediately competitive and were mixing it up with the front runners in all sessions until qualifying when the #15 stole the show, and the pole, with Maxwell piloting the distinctively Canadian liveried Shelby Mustang to three extremely fast laps. The white car with green stripes remembers the racing colours of the famous Comstock Racing equip of the 1960’s. Comstock was a Toronto based Ford racing team campaigning GT40s, Shelby Cobras, Ford Cortinas and the first customer Shelby GT350R, all displaying Canada’s national racing colours – white with a green stripe.
  • The Ford Performance backed Mustangs were both fast and reliable in their debut weekend running absolutely trouble free through all practice sessions and the race, completing every lap required. Maxwell also set the second fastest race early on before the flooding began.
  • In the pre-torrential phase of the race the #15 entry showed its distinctive rear wing to the Porsche; normally the dominant force in the rain.  Only a debatable penalty and dangerous driving conditions put a damper on Maxwell’s competitive run at the front.
  • Both cars left the somewhat perilous race meeting with no major damage or durability issues, so preparation for the team’s home race at Mosport on July 11th will be thankfully light.

Multimatic Motorsports Team Principal, Larry Holt, commented: “That was nasty. The red flag was absolutely necessary but a little late for a few teams that were in the fence. My drivers couldn’t see a thing and for sure our cars were a little over sprung at the rear for the conditions, but we had been dealing with understeer both days up to the race and so nobody thought to soften the rear. On a wet track we were still fast and Scotty was showing how good the independent suspension works on the new Mustang, but on a flooding track with no visibility Billy and Jade were taking a load of risks. Not good, as illustrated by Matt Plumb going off in the Porsche at the exit of the carousel. I think that was the trigger for the officials to figure it was time for a rest. All that aside, I am very happy with the fact that both cars ran faultlessly on their debut race weekend, no trouble at all, and they showed great pace out of the box. I think if you compare that with some other new programs that have recently debuted in CTSC and elsewhere, it is a testament to my guys and the team at Ford Performance that put it all together. I am thankful to them all.”

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Sean Mason
Multimatic Motorsports
+1 905-470-0025