The Rolex Sportscar Series returned to action this past weekend in Daytona Beach, FL for the annual Roar Before the 24. The three-day test at Daytona International Speedway offered many teams the first opportunity to run brand new cars in preparation for the Rolex24. For SpeedSource, it signaled the completion of an off-season surge that included the construction of three new Rolex Series RX8 GT cars and three new Mazdaspeed3 ST cars for the Continental Sportscar Challenge.
With the crew at the shop working long hours to fulfill customer expectations, all cars were completed and delivered on-time. "We've had a great relationship with SpeedSource since 2007 and they really burned the Midnight Oil to get this car built for us in a hurry and allow us to expand our program for Mazda. The RX-8 GT has evolved over the last 3 years and the new car is fast, reliable and easy for the guys to work on," said Team Principal Patrick Dempsey regarding the delivery of the new #41 Mazda RX8.
The quality of work form SpeedSource coupled with the reliability of Mazda allowed both Rolex Series and Continental Series teams to focus on car setup almost immediately. All cars were on track for the first day of testing turning consistent laps. In fact, fast lap in GT practice from the weekend belongs to a customer car, further validating the strong and consistent platform provided by SpeedSource and Mazda. Team Manager of the #41 Mazda RX8 Mike Gue stated: "We're certainly happy with the pace of the new car from SpeedSource but more importantly it ran trouble free for 3 days which is pretty amazing for the first time a car hits the track."
For the crew of the #70 Castrol Syntec SpeedSource Mazda RX8, it was back to business as usual. After initial shakedown of the new chassis went without issue, the team worked on developing the car setup with the aid of chassis designer/constructer Bill Riley of Riley Technologies. The engineers and crew quickly got the car to a setup that all drivers felt was an improvement on the previous year. "The test went very well. To have a new car show up, run a few laps, and then go straight into chassis setup says a lot about the entire program," recalled Bill Riley.
Seeing similar success was the #69 FXDD SpeedSource Mazda RX8. Having run the initial December tire test, the crew had a head start on chassis setup and came to the track with a very well prepared car. The team was able to unload the car from the trailer and put it straight onto the race track without issue. All drivers worked to gain more seat time on the new car and continued to put valuable test hours on all components. This data will be used to further strengthen the reliability of the car for the Rolex24.
With only a few weeks until race day, the SpeedSource crew is back to work at the shop interpreting and reapplying what was learned at the test to prepare for the grueling 24-hour race. Undoubtedly, there seems to be an extra bounce in the step of every team member as the days to the race are winding down. The work of the entire off-season will be put to the test as Mazda attempts to challenge for another Rolex24 race win.
FULL SPEEDSOURCE GALLERY OF TEST DAYS
The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona will take place on January 30-31. Coverage will begin on SPEED starting at 3pm on Jan. 30.
On any given weekend, there are more Mazda's on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you'll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the soul of a sports car. In fact, the fastest growing road-racing class in the U.S. is the SCCA's Spec Miata class, with nearly 1,500 first- and second-generation Miata's tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda's involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world's premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.
Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.