Speedsource Sixth Place Finish @ Daytona 24

#70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8: Jonathan Bomarito, Marino Franchitti, James Hinchcliffe, Sylvain Tremblay
#70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8: Jonathan Bomarito, Marino Franchitti, James Hinchcliffe, Sylvain Tremblay

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the historic Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. This twice-around-the-clock spectacle attracts dozens of the finest teams and drivers in all of international motorsports. With a strong endurance racing pedigree, the SpeedSource team arrived in Daytona prepared and ready-to-race. Regular-season drivers Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito were joined by racing superstars Marino Franchitti and James Hinchcliffe in the #70 Mazdaspeed RX-8.

A flawlessly executed race plan led to a strong Sixth Place finish in GT. The SpeedSource car was able to improve 18 spots from the initial starting position of 24th; one of the best improvements of the entire race field and the highest finishing Mazda. As has become typical of the Coral Springs, FL-based team, the SpeedSource advantage came through great race strategy and flawless pit stops. In total, the crew performed 34 scheduled pit stops that included: 24 tire changes, 29 full fuel fills, 5 partial fuel fills, 16 driver changes, and installing fresh brake pads. Even with the sheer quantity of scheduled service, the team spent an unprecedentedly low total stopped time of only 19 minutes and 43 seconds!

It was instilled from pre-race strategy meetings that the key to a strong finish was going to come from flawless execution both on-track and in the pit lane. All four drivers drove error-free stints, often times double stinting for 90 minute sessions. However, despite the effort, the straight-line speed of the leading German cars was too much to compete with; the #70 Mazdaspeed RX-8 fell a lap down for every two hours of green-flag running. The nimble Mazda RX-8 was able to keep strong pace through the Daytona infield but, once on the banking, top speed differential to other engines over twice the size of the 20B 3-Rotor did not provide a level playing field. In total, the 6th place finish came 5 laps down to the GT class leader.

"I have never had the pleasure of driving a better prepped racecar," recalled Tremblay after the race. "The guys did an amazing job calling a great race, unfortunately the parity is too great between cars right now and the finish position does not showcase the amazing team effort."

"That was an amazing performance for 24 hours and was a perfect example of everyone doing their respective jobs perfectly," exclaimed Bomarito about the blistering pit stops.

The GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series will take a two month hiatus as many teams will elect to rebuild their racecars. Round two of the 2012 season will take teams to Barber Motorsports Park just outside of Birmingham, AL the last weekend of March.