PIRELLI WORLD CHALLENGE
Mid-Ohio, he hadn’t been to the top of the
podium. The guy racking up victories has
been James, who had a rough start, but
became a win machine mid-season. Instead,
Aschenbach’s been Mr. Consistency, and
usually on the podium. Considering the
Camaro GT4.R he’s driving is new, based
on the ZL1 Camaro and introduced for
the first time as a homologated GT4 car
at the season-opener on the streets of
St. Petersburg, that’s an impressive feat.
Then again, he knows the car and its
capabilities well; he helped develop it.
“Being part of a development program is
any driver’s dream, because you’re with it
from the ground floor up,” says Aschenbach.
“I’ve got so much experience in Camaros
already, it was kind of ‘plug and play.’ From
being part of a customer-based program
in the past, and now with Stevenson
[Motorsports’ Audi R8 GT3 program in IMSA
GTD], I have a feel not only for what the
car needs to go fast, but from a customer
perspective of what a driver is going to want
to feel in the car. It all goes hand in hand.”
For years the Camaros that Aschenbach
raced – and which Michael Cooper also
won the 2015 GTS title in – were built and
run by Blackdog to the old GTS-class rules.
They were certainly potent. But with the
new breed of GT4 cars coming into GTS
– exotica such as the KTM Xbow, McLaren
570S, Ginetta G55 and Porsche Cayman
– Chevrolet had to respond in kind. The
Camaro GT4.R had to happen not only
because Chevy wanted to continue
competing in a class that was going all
GT4, and in other GT4 series around
the world, but because it wanted to
stay competitive. Simple as that.
“The car we have now is definitely more
suited to the class,” says Aschenbach. “One
of the things that we really work hard on is
tire longevity. Plus, it’s very driver friendly.
It’s got an XTRAC transmission, paddle
shifts, ABS and traction control. We’ve got
driver aids. It’s a great car for pros, and it’s
going to be great for amateurs, too, which
is important. I think we gained in aero
balance, top speed and overall drivability.
It’s definitely more suited to every track,
and I think we’ve shown that this season.”
The results, if not the win tally, have
borne that out. Aschenbach had nine
podium finishes in the first 10 races, and
put the Camaro GT4.R on the pole for its
debut – which makes it a little surprising
from the outside looking in that it took
until the 11th race, more than halfway
through the season, for Aschenbach to
take the checkers first. But as he explains,
it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
“I’m really not surprised it took that
long,” he says, “because with the Balance
of Performance and how many different
types of cars there are in the class, you
never really know what to expect until
qualifying, and even then you don’t really
know what’s going to go on until the race.
A kart racer from
the age of eight,
switched to open
wheel aged 16.
Moving to sports
cars, he earned a
podium in his 2005
debut and a year
later won the GT
class as a rookie.
“GT4 is good racing. [GTS] is a great
class, and I think it’s going to get
better and tougher every year”
(MAIN) Up against a growing influx of GT4 exotica, Chevy
conceived the Camaro GT4.R, with Lawson Aschenbach key
in its development. (BELOW) Having put in the test miles,
Aschenbach raced the GT4.R to the 2017 PWC GTS title.