SpeedSource Strategy Earns Montreal Podium Montreal - In a sport where taking risks is the stuff of success, a conservative approach on the historic Gilles Villeneuve circuit brought the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 GT to 2nd...
SpeedSource Strategy Earns Montreal Podium
Montreal - In a sport where taking risks is the stuff of success, a conservative approach on the historic Gilles Villeneuve circuit brought the SpeedSource No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 GT to 2nd place in the August 1 Rolex Sports Car Series race. A two-hour time limit put the focus on fuel windows for the three-rotor powered Mazda. At the checker, as competitors fell off the pace with fuel cells running dry, the No. 70 moved up from 10th place to 2nd over the final eight laps.
"We had to balance track position with our fuel range. Pitting when we did seemed risky, because we gave up track position, but in hindsight it was absolutely correct. Looking back, we actually took a more conservative strategy than other teams. Our engineers, Dave Haskell and Marcus Shen, did an excellent job managing our fuel, and our podium is due largely to their pit call," said team owner Sylvain Tremblay.
Nick Ham qualified the No. 70 in the fourth spot and ran in 3rd position for 19 of next 22 laps. The team pitted under yellow with the rest of the field on lap 24. The decision to pit again on lap 37 dropped the car to P13. Tremblay gained a few spots in as many laps, but plateaued at P10 until the final eight laps.
"In many ways, we were lucky, and the race came to us." Tremblay said. "We pitted under yellow, and I was able to gain the spots we needed for a strong finish when other teams were forced to pit for fuel or ran out." A finish which put Tremblay and Ham just six points out of the championship lead.
Once again, Emil Assentato showed why he is a Bob Akin Award recipient by improving his No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 GT's 7th spot qualifying position to P5 early in the race. He continued to run in the top 10 until pitting under yellow for the driver change. Co-driver Jeff Segal also made gains on the field. Opting to split the pit strategy, No. 69 stayed on track hoping for a yellow that never came. A late race splash and a pit-out misfortune for Segal changed a potential podium finish to a 12th place.