The Old Boss 302 Beats Brand New Camaro GT4 in Pirelli World Challenge Season Opener


Andrew Aquilante and the #32 Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302 swept both races during the opening round of the Pirelli World Challenge season in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

Aquilante was able to conquer the GTS/GT4 class with the tried-and-true Boss 302 even after Chevrolet’s Lawson Aschenbach set a blistering pole time–and a new track record– in the new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.

On lap nine of Race 1 Aschenbach lost the lead to Aquilante, who started third, at the re-profiled turn 3 where the Mustang was strong during both days on the 14-turn temporary street circuit. Aquilante never looked back despite several strong challenges from Awesome Lawson in the closing stages of the race. Aquilante also posted the fastest lap of the race at 1:21.445-seconds, which secured him pole position for Race 2.

“It all comes back to turn three for me at this track,” said Aquilante. “With the change, it was fun to see the unknown right there. PWC did a great job with the pace laps and then a couple of faster so the driver could experiment with the new setup at turn three. Initially, I went into the corner at sixty per cent and a couple of corners I went over the edge so I knew where I could go with the car.”

For the Blackdog Speedshop crew it was nearly the perfect fairy tale.

“There was a lot of work and dedication, a lot of focus and many people behind this new Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R machine,” said Aschenbach. “When you have people like Chevrolet, Pratt & Miller and Blackdog Speed Shop behind the project, you know you are going to have a great car. I was very surprised that we rolled off the trailer and ran strong.”

In Race 2, Aquilante’s poor start lost him the lead to Aschenbach in turn 1. However, Aquilante would later slice under the Camaro reclaiming the lead just four laps after losing it. Aquilante would then go on to survive two restarts and a gearbox problem to hold off the hard charging Camaro GT4.R once more.

“Lawson started pouring it on when we only had five laps to go and I thought ‘oh boy’ and actually a lap or two before that I started missing shifts and rowing through the gear box so I had to slow that down a little bit. That let him creep up and get a little closer, and I was waiting for him.” said the veteran Aquilante.

Aschenbach’s new Camaro also suffered its first damage of the season as one of the KTM XBows tried to eat the GT4.R’s rear bumper for lunch.

“On the restart, I had a feeling that someone was going to come up and I got punched in the rear,” said Aschenbach. “More importantly, I’m happy with the weekend with a brand new car that turned its first laps on Tuesday. Then we come here and finish both races, get the pole and the track record. Two second (place finishes) is pretty nice.”

GTS Classes take to the track next at VIRginia International Raceway in April 28-30 for Rounds 3 and 4.