SpeedSource Makes Gains at VIR, Looks Forward to May Schedule SpeedSource Race Engineering had less than three months to build three new cars after the Daytona season opener. This past weekend the team's newly developed RX-8 EVO II cars took to...
SpeedSource Makes Gains at VIR, Looks Forward to May Schedule
SpeedSource Race Engineering had less than three months to build three new cars after the Daytona season opener. This past weekend the team's newly developed RX-8 EVO II cars took to the track at Virginia International Raceway, and despite poor weather conditions, came home with solid finishes. Despite a 91-car starting field, rainy weather, and crowded pits stops, owner Sylvain Tremblay left the track with renewed confidence in the EVO II cars.
Together Tremblay and David Haskell co-drove the No. 70 Mazda RX-8 EVO II. Tremblay noted significant improvement in the car's development, and was pleased with improvements made to the car during the long break between races.
"On the No. 70 car we worked extremely hard on the setup and felt we gained speed from last year," stated Tremblay. However, according to Tremblay, improvements still have to be made in order to gain ground on the competition. "The Acuras have a considerable amount of straight line speed. That's something that needs to be worked on."
With the large number of cars in the Grand-Am Cup race at VIR, adequate space for pits stops was a problem for many teams, including SpeedSource. During pit stops, GS cars were to pit during the first two laps under caution while ST cars pitted on the next two. Despite this attempt to ease congestion in pit lane, the team had difficulty getting into their pit when blocked by GS cars in neighboring pit stalls. This congestion cost SpeedSource valuable time during their typically flawless pit stops, landing Tremblay and Haskell a twelfth place finish in the Street Tuner class.
"At the beginning we actually had two GS cars blocking us when we attempted to pit. So that cost us track position and to make up for that we decided to stick with the rain tires that were on the car until the end of the race. We had the weather radar in the pit and it looked like it was going to rain. Unfortunately for us, it never did. The weather conditions and pit stops didn't really work out for us, but half the teams got it right and half the teams got it wrong. We have been on the positive side of these calls many times and now we are on the negative side of it. You make the decision with the best information you've got at the time and that's what we did. It didn't work out for us this weekend," stated Tremblay.
The SpeedSource No. 65 car also stayed on rain tires through the end of the race but faired quite well in the ST class. The father-son team of Ray and Rob Huffmaster completed their second Grand-Am Cup race together and finished fifteenth in their newly painted orange racer.
"Both Ray and Rob did great. They are driving extremely well and are adjusting quickly to the series. Their feedback is excellent and they are both spending a lot of time looking at data and analyzing how to get better. Ray and Rob are here to race and to go fast. It's really gratifying working with the both of them," states Tremblay.
Unfortunately for drivers Scott Schlesinger and Ken Dobson, the No. 68 car was damaged heavily in the side on a restart. The crew worked vigorously to put it back together and the car finished in thirtieth place. Tremblay was disappointed but hopeful for the future of this car and its drivers.
"Scott had a great start and Ken did an outstanding job at the end of the race. The car was doing very well in practice and our crew is going to work hard this week to get the car back to where it needs to be. We'll show up at Mazda Raceway with the same type of product we show up with every weekend. They'll fix it right," stated Tremblay.
The team is not only working hard to get the No. 68 Mazda back in action but will be preparing for a month-long stint on the road. Before heading to the track to defend their Triple Crown Championship in the ST class, the team makes a stop in San Diego, California for a Mazda national dealer show this weekend. The SpeedSource team will then travel to the first of three races in a total of four weeks. First on the calendar is the RX-8 friendly track of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. SpeedSource expects a lot of Mazda support at the Laguna Seca track, and Tremblay and crew are looking forward to it.
"We have some exciting Mazda things to do this weekend and will be running the Grand Touring car in the Rolex race there. It's a busy, yet exciting month," states Tremblay.
After leaving Laguna Seca, SpeedSource will head to Phoenix International Raceway to compete in both the Avondale Twin 200's and the Gainsco Grand Prix. They will again pay tribute to their Mazda supporters while visiting a dealership in Avondale, Arizona. For the race itself, the team will have two Super GT drivers joining them from Japan in the No. 67 car. The team will end their US road trip in Lime Rock, Connecticut before returning home to their shop in Sunrise, Florida.