05/06/2009 - The SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 arrived at New Jersey Motorsports Park looking to post a solid run. Early practice sessions proved that the team had a worthy entry to compete with the points leaders. The dawn of race day opened with a cold and wet weather forecast that would last to race end. In a rain soaked race that included over an hour under yellow flag conditions the SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 ended up in eleventh position.
Starting in the third spot things looked promising for Nick Ham in the beginning of the race, however windshield fogging in the early going made it very difficult for Ham to navigate the track. "After a few laps the windshield started fogging up and it was impossible to see where the corners were," said Ham; "It seemed the faster you went the worse it got. In these conditions I'm glad the car is in one piece and we can move on to Mazda Raceway."
Ham managed to complete his stint behind the wheel and turned the car over to co-driver Sylvain Tremblay at the 1-hour mark. Quick thinking by the SpeedSource crew during the driver change pit stop temporarily decreased the interior fogging on the windshield. Unfortunately, conditions on track did not improve much for Tremblay after getting into the car. After only a few laps the wiper blade on the car had become loose and further vibration caused the blade to fall off. "It was impossible to see out of the windshield," Tremblay commented. "There were times when the interior fogging on the windshield and the misting from traffic was so bad that I could not see where I was on track. We are just happy that both cars completed the race safely and are looking forward to a strong showing at Mazda Raceway."
Leading the Mazda brigade at New Jersey was the No. 40 Dempsey Racing/El Grado Mazda RX-8 of Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster in seventh.
"I love this track, and I had a great time here," said Dempsey, who had his best personal finish in Rolex Series competition. "I feel really comfortable in the rain. Everybody drove really smart, which is a great thing about this series. All the drivers realized how difficult the conditions were, and they really took care of each other. It's a great series to be part of, I'm happy for the result, and I'm happy for Mazda and having a great result for El Grado. It's been a great weekend."
The SpeedSource team currently sits 25 points behind first place in the championship hunt. Look for the SpeedSource Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8, and the rest of the RX-8 GT brigade to return to the action at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, May 17th 4PM EST on SPEED.
GRAND-AM: Patrick Dempsey audio clip, on his career-best finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park
Additonal SpeedSource Pictures from New Jersey:
2009 New Jersey #1
2009 New Jersey #2