Last week we learned that the new Ford Shelby GT350R-C Mustang would make its on-track debut in the Grand Sport (GS) class of the Continental Tire 150 at the Glen as part of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, where it would go head to head with the Chevrolet Camaro Z28.R. The new Shelby GT350R-C is effectively replacing the Boss 302R and in its grand debut at Watkins Glen, Multimatic Motorsports brought out two cars to do battle with competition from BMW, Porsche, Nissan and Chevrolet – including the class-leading Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z28.R race cars.
Strong Start for the GT350R-C
Things got off to a great start for the new Ford Shelby GT350R-C race car, with the #15 Mustang of Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson turning the 3rd quickest time in its first practice session, trailing a Porsche 911 by just a quarter of a second and a Chevy Camaro Z28.R by just over a tenth of a second. The #158 Mustang didn’t have quite as good of a first practice round, sitting 10th in the 15 car class.
In the second practice round, the #158 Shelby GT350R-C Mustang turned in a quicker time, but so did most of the cars in the GS class, so the team only jumped to 7th while the #15 Mustang dropped to 8th quickest in the class. Also in practice session #2, the #6 Camaro Z28.R Stevenson Motorsports turned in the quickest time of the class, reminding everyone who the top dogs are in the Grand Sport division.
However, come the official qualifying session, the #15 Mustang team kicked the tires and lit the fires, as Scott Maxwell turned in the top time for the entire field – putting the new Shelby GT350R-C Mustang race car on the pole position for the two and a half hour long endurance race. A Nissan 370Z started 2nd, followed by a Porsche 911 in 3rd, another Nissan in 4th, the Stevenson Motorsports Camaro teams were 5th and 6th and the #158 Shelby GT350R-C Mustang started 7th.
Heading into the Continental Tire 150 at the Glen, things couldn’t be looking much better for the debut of the new Ford Shelby GT350R-C Mustang – but that good fortune wouldn’t last.
Rainy Race Day
After the new Shelby GT350R-C looked so strong in practice, the teams had high hopes for the new Mustang race car, but they would have to beat the class-leading Camaro Z28.R teams from Stevenson Motorsports. After starting on the pole, the #15 Mustang of Maxwell and Johnson looked strong in the early stages of the race, but when Maxwell jumped early on a restart, he was penalized and pushed back into the thick field. At the same time, the #6 Stevenson Camaro Z28.R had moved into the top spot by the end of the first hour as a light rain early in the race evolved into a steady downpour.
While the #6 Camaro was at the front of the field, when a crash back in the field brought out the yellow flag. After a few laps were run under caution, the field was red flagged for some 17 minutes. After that break, the drivers hit the track under caution for another 13 minutes to see if the rain would lighten, but when it did not – the race was officially called at that point. This handed the easy win to the #6 Camaro of Liddell and Davis, marking their third consecutive win in the Continental Tire SportsCar Championship.
Due to a combination of the early penalty and the lack of green flag racing after the 1 hour mark, the #15 Mustang that claimed the pole position was forced to settle for a very disappointing 7th place finish while the #158 team car finished 4th (in class and overall).
It was a disappointing finish for the Multimatic Motorsports Mustang teams, but the strong showing in both qualifying and practice shows that the new Shelby GT350R-C race car has what it takes to turn fast laps – now it is just a matter of seat time for the drivers leading to the first big win for the newest Mustang race cars. The teams hit the track July 10-11 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for their next race.