SpeedSource Earns ST Class Podium at Mid Ohio LEXINGTON, Ohio -- SpeedSource Race Engineering headed to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course looking to put a difficult stretch of races for both the Rolex GT class and Koni Series ST class behind them....
SpeedSource Earns ST Class Podium at Mid Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- SpeedSource Race Engineering headed to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course looking to put a difficult stretch of races for both the Rolex GT class and Koni Series ST class behind them. As it would turn out, Mid-Ohio would provide just the cure for the team's mid-season woes. Earlier in the day drivers Nick Ham and Sylvain Tremblay gave SpeedSource a much needed boost, having scored a second place finish in the Emco Gears Classic. For that race David Haskell sat atop the pit cart as team technical director, helping guide the #70 Mazda RX-8 Rolex GT machine to its first podium finish in the last three races. Just over an hour later, Haskell would help place the Koni Challenge #69 RX-8 on the podium as well, only this time from behind the controls of the bright yellow Mazda.
Teamed with Jose Armengol in the #69 machine for the first time this year, Haskell found the balance of the car to his liking after only a handful of practice laps during the Thursday test day. "Early in the season we decided to make a change on this car and switch to Koni dampers" said Armengol. "Having given a good deal of the feedback that led to the set up that we're running, I was really happy to see that David liked the balance of the car as well."
Back behind the wheel of one of the SpeedSource ST class RX-8's for the first time since the April event at Iowa, Haskell showed no signs of rust, laying down some very fast laps in practice. Meanwhile, Armengol worked hard to learn the track, this being the third consecutive race weekend on a track he'd never been to before. The lack of familiarity with the track, combined with some bad luck in traffic during qualifying would mean that Armengol would start the race from the 18th position on the grid.
The race itself would prove to be an incredibly exciting one for the team as well as the many fans that came out to watch, with lots of on track action and a race in which strategy played as big a part as outright speed. Patiently working through traffic, Armengol moved the #69 up into eighth place by lap 23, and then pitted under full course caution a few laps later, the team choosing to take advantage of the safety car period to do a driver change and put on four new tires. Haskell would rejoin on the lead lap, but having lost track position during the stop, falling all the way back to 21st place. From there a combination of great pit strategy by the team and brilliant driving by Haskell would bring the #69 car all the way back to the sharp end of the field by the later stages of the race. "They were telling me on the radio to put my head down and drive; I was just driving it as hard as I could. If I'd had my head down any lower I wouldn't have been able to see over the dash and that would have been bad" quipped a smiling Haskell. "I was just trying to get to the end. Finally, we got the top four cars in sight, and picked them off one at a time." Time, however, ran out on the SpeedSource charge to the front, but not before crossing the finish line just over one second back of the winner, whose car was nearly out of fuel. "We gave it a good run" commented Haskell "That was all I could do. It's awesome to come here and finish on the podium twice in one day"
For Armengol, the race would mark his first visit to the podium in Grand-Am competition. "I'm finding it difficult to express how excited I am to be able to be here right now" commented Armengol. "This series is so competitive with very good teams and cars and some of the best sportscar talent out there. This result is really all about the team. SpeedSource puts together a fantastic effort, top to bottom, and I can't say enough about David's incredible drive today, coming from well back to the podium - and so close to a win."
The second place finish at Mid-Ohio moves Armengol to within 10 points of the lead in the Koni Challenge Street Tuner class driver's championship, and the SpeedSource #69 car only 10 points removed from the lead in the class team championship. With the sweet scent of champagne in the air and only five races remaining on the Koni Challenge Series schedule, SpeedSource Race Engineering looks to keep the momentum going and hopes to be able to secure another championship for the team and Mazda.