Virginia International Raceway
Virginia Race Challenged Teams With Downpour Conditions
The forecast at Virginia International Raceway, site of Round 4 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, called for afternoon storms on race day. Having dodged the ever-changing weather through practice and qualifying, the rain began to fall as SpeedSource took both team cars to the pre-race grid.
Sylvain Tremblay took on the task of starting the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 in the pouring rain. Early on, the team knew that this race would be about survival as the opening hour of the race was run behind the safety car under caution. Through early race strategy and pit sequencing, the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 was able to stay with the front running GT cars before pitting for a driver change with an hour to go. As the rain was beginning to let up, so were the Continental rain tires and the team elected to send Jonathan Bomarito out on slick racing tires.
The still-damp racetrack was a treacherous place to drive as all cars fought for grip on the slick Virginia asphalt. Late in the race Bomarito was pushed offline by a passing Daytona Prototype and, consequently, the new slick racing tires lost adhesion sending the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 spinning through the grass until coming to a stop after striking a tire barrier. The car was stuck in the mud for almost 10 minutes, losing 4 laps to the leaders, and eventually finished 14th in GT.
For the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 of Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal, weather played a similar backdrop to their race. Assentato needed to start the race in heavy rain fall and preserve the car for co-driver Segal. The 2010 defending GT Champions managed the conditions as best as possible until a late race spin sent the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 off into the wet grass. Segal would manage to get the car unstuck and back onto the racing surface before losing too much time to the rest of the field. The group finished with an 8th place result.
Despite the hardships of the race weekend, the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 still finds itself in a 3-way tie for 4th in the GT Championship hunt with 100 points. Trailing just a single-point behind is the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 team car.