April 29, 2010 - Round 4 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 took place in the beautiful track-resort at Virginia International Raceway. The SpeedSource team rolled into the facility determined to continue their recent success despite the recent competition adjustments thrown at them by GRAND-AM. Regardless, the driver duo of Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal captured the fourth straight SpeedSource podium of the season finishing 2nd in the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.
As the crew unloaded the SpeedSource cars from the trailer, it was unclear to all what the effects of a 75-lb weight increase would have on the Mazda. In previous races, the only advantage of the Mazda chassis was its lightweight which led to greater cornering capabilities. There were also concerns of extra tire wear from the added weight. The SpeedSource crew closely monitored all of these effects during the short practice session before the race.
Emil Assentato started his #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 from the seventh row in GT in 14th. The 2007 Bob Akin award winner drove a great opening stint to setup for an eventual driver change. Co-driver Jeff Segal took control of the Mazda at the 45-minute mark and continued to charge ahead. Although the car did not have the pace of the leaders in GT, great strategy and work from the crew allowed the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 to gain a wave-by under caution; catapulting it to the front of the GT class in the race’s final hour. Segal fought closely with Andy Lally in the #66 car for the lead but ultimately saw him drive away on the long back straight of VIR. The differential in power was too much to close but the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 still finished 2nd, capturing their third straight podium of the season. The #69 car now leads the GT standings.
Jonathan Bomarito started the #70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 from 2nd on the grid. Even with the added ballast from the Series Bomarito was able to pull off a great lap on light fuel load, only completing 4 qualifying laps. Bomarito quickly settled into a groove at the start of the race and maintained the 2nd spot in GT. Co-driver and team owner Sylvain Tremblay took control of the #70 Mazda at the 45-minute mark and kept the car at the front of GT. The team elected to make a second driver change under a caution lap at the race’s final hour to put Bomarito back behind the wheel. All things looked good until a broken rear sway bar affected the handling of the car. Jonathan would hold on for a 9th place finish.
Starting their third race together Mazda ladder drivers Adam Christodoulou and John Edwards continue to gain valuable experience in the Rolex Series driving the #68 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda RX-8. Christodoulou qualified the #68 Mazda 6th on the grid in only his second qualifying appearance in GRAND-AM. Adam drove an opening stint that lasted nearly 1hr-45min before pitting the #68 Mazda. Co-driver John Edwards took over driving duties to bring the #68 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Mazda RX-8 across the finish in 11th.
The Rolex Sports Car Series makes a return to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut on May 31st. Catch the action live on SPEED, 2 PM EST.
EVENT IMAGE GALLERIES:
VIRginia International Raceway 2010 - GALLERY 1
VIRginia International Raceway 2010 - GALLERY 2
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.