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SpeedSource RX-8 GT - Two Weekend Race Report
Submitted by Berny Herrera on Thursday, June 9, 2011 - 12:12am

SpeedSource Scores Podium at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen took place last Saturday at Watkins Glen International raceway. With the green flag set to wave just a few days after the Memorial Day Classic, teams had little time to prepare their cars for the six hour endurance. SpeedSource rolled into the paddock ready to put on a strong showing. The #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 reclaimed a podium spot with a solid 3rd place finish with the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 finishing in 10th.

With this race being over three hours longer than a typical GRAND-AM Rolex Series race, both crews brought in an extra driver for a little added help. Joining regulars Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito in the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 was Rolex 24 teammate John Edwards. Defending 2010 GT Champions Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal were joined with series veteran Guy Cosmo in the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.

Typical in the last few races, weather played another integral role in the start of this race. After two days of nearly perfect New York weather, heavy rain was in the forecast for the start of the race. Tremblay, who qualified the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 from 6th, started the car in the wet. Oftentimes it is not the rain that makes these driving conditions treacherous, but the lack of visibility caused by the blinding spray from the cars in front. Emil Assentato started the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 from 11th.

The rain slowed much of the opening laps of the race behind the pace car. The caution period allowed many drivers to settle and adapt to the conditions before the restart. Assentato drove a clean opening stint before pitting for the first scheduled pit stop. Jeff Segal climbed into the driver’s seat of the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 and continued on with the push for the win. Segal and temporary co-driver Guy Cosmo would complete the remaining hours of the race with the two exchanging double stints. Segal would ultimately saddle in for the final stint to battle for position until crossing the finish line in 3rd place.

The #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 was on pace for a strong finish as well until an early race incident forced an unscheduled pit stop. A rear damper had come apart causing the suspension to collapse under driver Jonathan Bomarito. The crew quickly assessed the problem and installed a replacement unit but the laps lost under green flag running conditions proved to be game-changing. With the car back on track, the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 once again proved that it was able to put down a class leading pace. With a ‘never give-up’ mentality, the drivers and crew put their focus on completing the race and finished with a 10th place position.

The crews will work long hours to rebuild both cars after the grueling two-race week. SpeedSource heads to Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI as the series visits the historic road course. The race will be broadcast at Noon EST, June 25th, on SPEED.

Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park Race Report

The Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut played host to Round 5 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. The single-day event meant that teams had practice, qualifying and the race all rolled into a few short hours.

The SpeedSource crew rolled into the historic track as guests to a morning thunderstorm. Rain hampered much of the morning practice session, leaving little time to tune the cars. Always prepared, the SpeedSource crew unloaded two great racecars that needed little adjustments to ready themselves for qualifying. Sylvain Tremblay qualified the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 5th, once again securing the best qualifying mark for the Japanese brand. Teammate Emil Assentato rounded out the top 10 in the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.

The green flag waved for the 23-car field less than two hours after qualifying. A spinning Daytona Prototype after Turn 1 caused the GT field to stack up at the start of the race. Heavy contact to the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 sent Assentato off-track into the grass. The crew would fight hard to regain track position on the 1.5-mile course. The duo of Assentato and co-driver Jeff Segal would eventually finish in 10th place.

Early on, the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 showed great pace as Tremblay was able to keep the matte-black racecar at the front of the GT pack. An early yellow allowed team strategist David Haskell to bring the car in for fuel early on without losing valuable track position. Continued running under green conditions would mean that the #70 Mazda RX-8 would cycle to near the front of the GT class when other cars had to pit. Unfortunately that time never came for the team as a ruptured oil line would force the car into an unscheduled pit stop. The crew worked hard to repair the issue and was able to get co-driver Jonathan Bomarito his time in the car to obtain driver points and earn a 12th place finish.

The tough weekend leaves the SpeedSource cars in 7th and 8th in the GT points standings, with the 2010 GT Class champions leading the duo. The team faces a very short turn-around before Saturday’s 6-Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen International Raceway. Look for SpeedSource to rebound in the second extended endurance race of the Rolex Sports Car schedule.

Full Race Galleries:

Memorial Day Classic

Six Hours of the Glen

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