SpeedSource Mazda GT RX-8 Misses Win By Inches at Homestead Following a promising debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the ...
SpeedSource Mazda GT RX-8 Misses Win By Inches at Homestead
Following a promising debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the #70 Mazda GT RX-8 of SpeedSource Race Engineering landed its first podium at the team's home track of Homestead-Miami Speedway. During the weekend shared with the IRL's Toyota Indy 300 race, drivers Sylvain Tremblay and David Haskell showcased one of the most exciting new cars in the Grand American Rolex Series.
Steve Sanders of Mazdaspeed Motorsports was very impressed with the incredible success of the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 so far this year.
"A second place finish in only their second race with their new Mazda RX-8 proves what the SpeedSource team is capable of achieving. To run competitively with the other top teams in the series and nearly win the GT class is just an awesome achievement." Sanders said.
In Friday's qualifying, driver and team technical director David Haskell qualified the rotary-powered Mazda in a solid fourth, setting up an excellent starting position in the 19 car GT field.
"David had a great qualifying session. The Porsches are still extremely fast, but for the second race in a row we out-qualified the Pontiac GTO effort," stated Tremblay.
During the March 25th night race, Tremblay and Haskell capitalized on the car's agility to run down the competition, hold off the top qualifying Porsches, and position themselves at the front of the pack. The #70 Mazda consistently held a top-five spot for most of the race, and pit stop strategy steadily moved the car further up in position. Team owner and driver Sylvain Tremblay commented on the car's race-ready abilities.
"The restarts, the overall nimbleness of the car, and how good it is on cold tires really made a difference over our competitors," stated Tremblay, who battled for second with the Porsche GT3 Cup cars and the Pontiac GTO at the end of the race.
Track temperature figured heavily in race strategy. Although the team made a few minor adjustments to the car following the Daytona race, Homestead's night time temperatures played a major factor in pre-race preparations.
"The car was in great shape mechanically after Daytona. We didn't have to do much as far as changing it. The aero package is slightly different from Daytona to Homestead but we knew the track changes quite a bit with temperature. We put a lot of effort into the night practice where we ended up second. We were pretty confident that we had a great race package," added Tremblay.
As always, pits stops and restarts were valuable pieces of the SpeedSource success. Tremblay gave credit to his team for their efforts during these critical times. "The team worked hard to gain ground during restarts and because of that, we were able to move up in position." Tremblay led the race for over 20 laps, but his 3-second lead evaporated when he was hit and held up by a slower Daytona Prototype. With just two laps remaining, he was unable to regain ground on the #64.
"The team made a huge difference in our particular program. We had great pit stops. We were able to make up positions on every restart. We went from third to second, then second to first. We followed a strategy and the professionalism of our crew and the execution of the plan put us in a position to be able to win," Tremblay stated.
Steve Sanders echoed Tremblay's praised, "The team's dedication to this program and the huge sacrifice made by the SpeedSource team members to get the car ready for the Rolex 24 at Daytona was apparent to me already. After their performance at Homestead and the obvious improvements they've made to the car, I'm impressed me all the more. I'm sure a GT win is around the corner for them. Mazda certainly appreciates their efforts and congratulates the entire SpeedSource crew."