MAZDASPEED drivers test Daytona Prototype at Daytona

MAZDASPEED: Promotion From Within MAZDASPEED Ladder Drivers Try Out for Rolex 24 At Daytona November 18, 2008 (Irvine, Calif.). Sylvain Tremblay has a "good problem". He is seeking to lead the SpeedSource Castrol Mazda RX-8 team to a...

MAZDASPEED: Promotion From Within

MAZDASPEED Ladder Drivers Try Out for Rolex 24 At Daytona

November 18, 2008 (Irvine, Calif.). Sylvain Tremblay has a "good problem". He is seeking to lead the SpeedSource Castrol Mazda RX-8 team to a repeat win at the 2009 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Sylvain is searching for a fourth driver to join the team of Tremblay, Nick Ham, and David Haskell. While every team owner has a stack of driver resumes to consider, Tremblay has a list of several dozen who have all won with Mazda power in the past year.

SpeedSource tested four of the top racers from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder last week in Daytona.

* Jonathan Bomarito -- 2008 Cooper Tires Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda Runner-up

* Ben Devlin -- 2007 & 2008 Driver of the B-K Motorsports Mazda powered ALMS LMP2 entry.

* Joel Miller -- 2007 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda Champion & 2008 Star Mazda Presented by Goodyear Runner-Up

* Jason Saini -- 2007 SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion & 2008 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year

An announcement will be made later this year as to the final SpeedSource driver line-up for the Daytona season opener.

SpeedSource was not the only Mazda team testing at Daytona and not the only team testing Mazda ladder grads. Racers Edge had 2007 Star Mazda champion Dane Cameron in their car while the HyperSport team had SPEED World Challenge Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6 driver Charles Espenlaub. Beginning their preparations for their debut season in GrandAm GT was the Yellow Dragon Mazda RX-8 team.

Quotes:

Sylvain Tremblay, Owner/Driver SpeedSource : "It was an excellent test for the SpeedSource team. Thanks to great preparation by the crew our car ran flawless for two days. The new Pirelli tires for 2009 coupled with the added weight and reduced redline for the RX-8 did just what GrandAm wanted in terms of slowing our lap times. I'm really proud of all four drivers who tested with us. All four did an amazing job in adapting to the car. Each demonstrated the talent and the hunger to win that we'll need in January. This will be a very difficult choice to make."

John Doonan, Manager MAZDASPEED Motorsports Team Development: "With four Mazda spec series to draw from, we are extremely fortunate to have a very deep talent pool. For everyone at Mazda it's very special that we can promote from within and reward those drivers who have invested their careers in series that we support."

Jason Saini: "What an amazing opportunity - the chance to drive at such a historic place, in preparation for such a historic event is just another dream come true thanks to the Mazda ladder system. A few years ago, I was figuring out how to get my Spec Miata to the track, and now I'm sharing the track with DaMatta, Fittipaldi, Busch and others - and sharing a car with Tremblay, Ham and Haskell who delivered such an emotional with for Mazda last year. I can't express how excited and I am, and how impressed I was with the car and operation. SpeedSource is a truly professional team with a talented crew and I was proud to be with them for this test. Getting to drive in the 24 hour would be a fairy tale for me, a lifetime fan of sports-car racing that has always dreamed of running at Daytona! I honestly can't see how any aspiring racer wouldn't choose to race a Mazda with the program they have put in place."

Joel Miller: "With this being my first time in a sports car and on the Daytona circuit, 10 laps was not a lot of time which made for a quick learning curve. Once I figured out the braking capabilities and overall balance I was getting comfortable with each lap. In the end I was able to be consistent and show well. I have to give many thanks to Sylvain Trembley and the entire SpeedSource crew for helping me get up to speed in the RX-8. Mazda has again given me a great opportunity to further my career with the help of all the people in the MAZDASPEED organization, and I am happy to be in the Mazda family."

Ben Devlin: "It was 2001 when I last raced at Daytona and I had almost forgotten how unique this circuit is. I'm very grateful to everyone at SpeedSource and Mazda who made this test possible. I really enjoyed my run in the RX8 although it's a while since I've driven a GT car I found it really responsive and very soon settled into a rhythm. It was a pleasure to work with the guys at SpeedSource who run a totally professional and focused outfit and it's easy to see why they have won so many races. I'll look forward to another opportunity to test what is obviously a car capable of repeating the success of last year."

Jonathan Bomarito: "I would like to thank everyone at Mazda and the SpeedSource racing team for giving up and coming drivers a chance. Mazda has been instrumental in getting many drivers to the top levels of motorsport and I am honored to be a part of that. SpeedSource did an amazing job outlining and preparing us for the test and it was a lot of fun to be a part of their team for the past couple of days."

Jon Mirachi, Owner/Team Manager, Racers Edge Motorsports: "Our test went well. Since this was our first opportunity to try them, our main focus was on testing the new 2009 spec Pirelli tires. Our goal was to understand how to extract both maximum performance and maximum tire life from the new tires. We made great progress the first day and the detailed, analytical feedback from Dane Cameron was a huge contribution to that progress. He was able to evaluate the changes we tried to the set-up within only a couple laps and then provide accurate feedback to the engineers."

Dane Cameron: "The test went very well both days, the second day was tough with the bad weather but still very productive. More teams were at this test compared to October so it gave us a good reference for pace so we know we have some work to do to beat the Porsches. The Racers Edge Team have been great to work with and the RX-8 has been a blast to drive so its been fun to work in a new discipline."

Joe Foster, Co-Owner/Co-Driver, HyperSport: "We had a successful test with the Hyper Sport #40 Mazda RX-8 GT. The car ran trouble free as usual and we ran through a range of settings in an attempt to come to grips with the 2009-spec Pirelli tire. Myself and Charles (Espenlaub) had similar feedback on the tire and our engineer Kirt Wightman made big progress on the set up. We have a huge amount of data to sift through in the next few weeks and I'm sure we'll come back in January with plenty more to try."

Jack Smith, Team Principal, Yellow Dragon Motorsports LLC: "The Yellow Dragon Motorsports team is very satisfied with its first test days at Daytona. The car performed well and demonstrated its capacity to run an acceptable lap time. Our crew worked together very professionally and demonstrated the confidence that significant racing experience brings to the program. We appreciate the support that Mazda and SpeedSource have shown for our racing program and we look forward to a competitive 2009 season."

-credit: mazdaspeed motorsports

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ben Devlin , David Haskell , Sylvain Tremblay , Skip Barber , Charles Espenlaub , Jonathan Bomarito , Nick Ham , Joe Foster , Dane Cameron , Jason Saini , Joel Miller , Jack Smith
Teams Racers Edge Motorsports , SpeedSource