SpeedSource Captures 1st Rolex GT Win and Points Lead in Mexico City In its first full-season of competition, the SpeedSource Mazdaspeed RX-8 dominated the GT field at the 400k Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race in Mexico's Autodromo Hermanos...
SpeedSource Captures 1st Rolex GT Win and Points Lead in Mexico City
In its first full-season of competition, the SpeedSource Mazdaspeed RX-8 dominated the GT field at the 400k Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race in Mexico's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. From the pole, the flawless efforts of the No. 70 Mazdaspeed RX-8 brought the 3-rotor powerhouse to victory lane with a 22.284-second margin over the GT field. Pole-winner Nick Ham and team owner Sylvain Tremblay lead 79 of the 92 laps in this caution-free race. Equally impressive performances by Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi earned the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 its first podium in only its second race.
After capturing his first pole position in the Rolex GT class the day before, No. 70 starter Nick Ham drove a very calculated first stint. "My job was made a lot easier this weekend, thanks to the hard work of Sylvain and the team's Technical Director David Haskell in the early practice sessions. This gave us a car capable of taking pole, but also good on tire wear in a long run." After falling back to fourth in the first few laps, Nick was able to recapture the lead on lap thirteen. He never relinquished the top spot again. "Our strategy at the start was to be patient and let some of the faster cars go; then sure enough, as their tires started going off, the race came back to us and we were able to lead well before the half-way mark," stated Ham. "I knew once the tires warmed up we would be fine." Patience and strategy paid off, as the No. 70 held the lead until Ham pitted on lap 55.
Tremblay took over, but the routine pit stop had an extra bonus. "We pitted with a 2-second lead and came out 22 seconds ahead of the field after all the pit cycles," stated Tremblay after the race. "Obviously when you can make up that much time on a pit stop it takes a lot of pressure off me. All I had to do was drive clean and consistent to the finish and complete all of the hard work everyone has put into this program," added Tremblay.
New to the challenging eight-turn circuit, No. 69 car owner and driver Emil Assentato qualified in ninth and moved up to fifth before handing off to Nick Longhi. Longhi steadily moved forward to third spot. In the closing laps, Longhi held steady and recovered nicely when a front-straightaway battle between two DP cars almost collected the No. 69. In the points standings, their podium finish brings them into second place. The win for the No. 70 puts the Mazdaspeed RX-8 first in the season point's standings.
Following the race, Tremblay gave due credit to his crew, calling the victory a team win. Matt Martin, No. 70's crew chief, and Marty Kintzi, crew chief for No. 69, handled the pressure of coming to an unfamiliar venue and did an outstanding job. "Knowing that we had the fastest car, it was our race to lose. All the pit stop practice we did at the shop paid off to help us win this race," stated Martin. Looking forward to the next event, he added, "The next race is at Homestead, a track we know very well and is close to home; hopefully we can carry some momentum into that weekend."
The successful weekend for the No. 69 car was echoed by Marty Kintzi. "First off, I am very pleased at the effort of Emil and Nick. They did an incredible job in the FXDD Mazda RX-8 this weekend. Emil and Nick gave me great feedback throughout each practice session and we improved each time. The car really proved itself in the race. Starting ninth and moving up to third really shows the patience and confidence Emil and Nick have in the car. The Speedsource team did a great job on the pit stop as well. With no mistakes, the crew was instrumental in the two podium finishes. I am very proud of all the guys on the crew."
SpeedSource's next race will be at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. The South Florida-based team knows the track well and looks forward to returning to challenge again for the victory narrowly lost in 2006 after being passed on the next to last lap. "We have some unfinished business there!" stated Tremblay.