Podium at Barber Motorsports Park Keeps SpeedSource in Koni Challenge Championship Hunt Birmingham, Al -- Heading into round nine of the Koni Challenge schedule, the SpeedSource Race Engineering team looked to rebound from a tough outing at ...
Podium at Barber Motorsports Park Keeps SpeedSource in Koni Challenge Championship Hunt
Birmingham, Al -- Heading into round nine of the Koni Challenge schedule, the SpeedSource Race Engineering team looked to rebound from a tough outing at Watkins Glen two weeks earlier. "After the Watkins Glen race, we all realized that our margin of error was greatly reduced in terms of the championship" said driver Jose Armengol. Hopes for a solid result at the Birmingham road course soared as David Haskell topped the time charts in the yellow number 69 Mazda RX-8 at the end of the first official practice session on Friday. The day would continue on a positive note for the team during qualifying, as Armengol placed the #69 on the second row for the start of the race with a lap of the 2.3 mile circuit in 1:42.793 after holding the fastest time of the session in the early going. The fourth place starting position would match the ST team's best qualifying result this season.
The race began with Armengol losing two positions by turn two on the opening lap. "I wasn't particularly aggressive in defending my position right at the start, knowing that in order to have the kind of result that we were looking for, I needed to hand David a car capable of winning the race - in retrospect though I was probably too conservative" explained Armengol. During the first half of the event, Armengol kept the RX-8 solidly in the top ten though, pitting from seventh place for fuel and tires on lap 43. At the stop Haskell would take over for Armengol and begin a charge through the field from ninth place after the stop that would culminate in some thrilling final laps. With two laps to go, Haskell passed the #86 BMW for third place and continued to close on the second place car. On the final lap contact between the #86 BMW and the #69 SpeedSource entry allowed the BMW to cross the finish line a mere tenth of a second ahead of the SpeedSource Mazda. Shortly after the race however, Grand-Am officials handed a 30 second time penalty to the #86 for unnecessary contact awarding third place to the deserving Mazda duo of Haskell and Armengol.
The lack of full course cautions during the race would put even greater importance on a fast pit stop and having a fast car at the end. "That was a strange race" said Haskell, adding "I don't think anyone would have expected the race to stay green the entire time. During my stint the car was really good - it didn't miss a beat and though we didn't manage a win, we gave it all we had." The second podium result in three races for the driving duo means that hopes for bringing SpeedSource Koni Challenge driver and team championships remain very much alive with only three races remaining on the schedule. Armengol currently sits third in Koni Challenge ST class driver points, with the SpeedSource #69 in third in the team championship as well. "The final three races are all on tracks that historically have been good ones for our car... I think it's going to be a fun little end to the season. One thing's for sure, we're not giving up" concluded Haskell.