SpeedSource Zooms to P2 at Lime Rock May 26, 2008 - Looking for a podium finish on the short, twisting track of Lime Rock May 26, SpeedSource knew it was time to be flawless. After a pit penalty at VIR contributed to an uncharacteristic 11th ...
SpeedSource Zooms to P2 at Lime Rock
May 26, 2008 - Looking for a podium finish on the short, twisting track of Lime Rock May 26, SpeedSource knew it was time to be flawless. After a pit penalty at VIR contributed to an uncharacteristic 11th place finish for the fourth race of the Grand-Am Rolex Series season, the team regrouped to put the No. 70 RX-8 on pole in the GT class at Mazda's home track Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway May 17. But the win slipped away on a late-race off, and the team came away with third. Determined to leave the gremlins behind, the team came to this historic Connecticut venue focused on teamwork and tires.
"We've put a lot of effort this year into fine tuning our team, optimizing our crew's strengths. Teamwork is so critical, and everyone needs to be focused and motivated," said team owner and driver Sylvain Tremblay. New to the SpeedSource roster is race engineer Marcus Shen, a recent engineering graduate of the University of Florida. "With the addition of Marcus, we are taking a fresh look at our trackside and pit procedures to increase our overall efficiency. Being able to respond to track conditions and driver and data input is key to being competitive at every event," added Tremblay.
Commenting on race strategy for Lime Rock, team Technical Director David Haskell said, "Today we may focus our strategy around our tires and not necessarily the fuel. We know Lime Rock takes a lot out of the front tires, and we will be watching that closely."
Starting fifth, Nick Ham put the rotary-powered RX-8 in the highest spot the team could hope for. Tremblay noted, "We don't have the out and out power of the V8s here, but we're the best of rest. I was pleased with Nick's performance."
At the green, Nick Ham jumped up to third. Despite an electrical short that shut down the air blower for the driver's helmet, Ham drove a strong stint and led most of the laps in the first 45 minutes. Handing off to Tremblay, SpeedSource stayed in the hunt. With tire changing dictating the pit stop time, Tremblay and Ham opted for another driver change at the last stop.
"Our strategy called for Nick to finish the race. The lack of a helmet blower really increased the fatigue level, and he was better rested and able to close the race. Our big picture is to finish well in the championship. It just made sense to change drivers if our track position would not be compromised," Tremblay said.
When a late-race spin moved Ham up from third to second, the team was ecstatic.
"This is as good as a win for us here. We knew the V8s would dominate, so to come in second is fantastic. We stuck to our race strategy and a bit of luck came our way." With a smile Tremblay added, "We'll take it."
Running a strong season in the No. 69 FXDD RX-8, 2007 Bob Akin award-winner Emil Assentato paired with co-driver Jeff Segal for the 2008 run. Lime Rock challenged the duo with a 12th-spot start, but Assentato drove a double stint to pull the car up to a 9th place finish. At Madza Raceway Laguna Seca, a strong 7th place qualifying helped put them as high as 4th, but a lengthy suspension repair, dropped the #69 to a 20th place finish. The Mazda RX-8 GT cars historically perform well at VIR, and this run for the No. 69 was no exception. Starting 12th, Assentato and Segal came home in 8th, bolstering the team's manufacturer points and finishing ahead of sister car No. 70.