August 22, 2011 - The 11th race of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule took teams north of the border to historic Montreal, Quebec. Welcomed by diehard race fans and gorgeous weather, the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve played host to another action-packed GRAND-AM thriller. Montreal-native Sylvain Tremblay and his SpeedSource teammate Jonathan Bomarito captured a strong second place finish in their #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 while Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal piloted the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 to tenth place.
Saturday's race marked the last sprint-format 2 hour shootout of the 2011 season and the SpeedSource crew knew that success would rely heavily on excellent race strategy and flawless pit stops. Always glad to race in front of his hometown crowd, Sylvain Tremblay started the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8. As the green flag fell, Tremblay quickly gained three spots and jumped into third position. The excellent start allowed the #70 Mazda RX-8 to set its own pace leading up to the first pit stop where Jonathan Bomarito took over driving duties. Once again, quick work by the SpeedSource crew played a vital role in getting Bomarito out of the pits ahead of most of the GT field. In a track where passing opportunities are rare, gaining track position in the pits is crucial to success.
Bomarito continually pressured the #57 GT car for the lead. The two would race nose-to-tail for the race's final hour, often separated by a gap of less than a second. The outcome of who would capture the GT victory came down to the last corner of the final lap. Running up the final straightaway side-to-side, Bomarito jockeyed for position into the track's final chicane. In a spectacular finish for the crowd, the #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 crossed the finish line in second place, just a few feet from the win. The finish extends SpeedSource's late-season hot streak and further earns them points for the 2011 GT Championship.
As Bomarito crossed the finish line he let the crew guys know that they "definitely maximized the awesomeness from the car." A reference to Tremblay's 9-year old son when asked which changes should be made to the #70 earlier in the weekend."The guys made setup changes right up to the race start and really gave Jonathan and I a great racecar," recalled Tremblay. "Today was real special for me, being on the podium with lots of friends and relatives from my hometown. We almost got them at the end. We raced them like they raced us, nice and clean."
For defending GT champions Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal, the race was full of ups and downs. Assentato started the #69 FXDD Mazda RX-8 but soon found trouble. After an early spin, Assentato was forced to battle his way back up through the GT ranks. After the first fuel stint was completed, co-driver Jeff Segal took over control and tried to muscle the #69 Mazda RX-8 back into GT class contention. Having just missed out on track position, it was difficult for Segal to weave his way through the very competitive GT field. The duo would claim a tenth place finish in Montreal.
The SpeedSource crew was joined during the race by some hard-working Mazda technicians from the world's largest volume Mazda dealer, Albi Mazda in Mascouche. The technicians helped to fill some vital roles in the crew during the race and without their help SpeedSource would not have earned such success. Prior to the weekend, Albi Mazda held a car show in the parking lot of their 200,000 sq. ft. dealership. All 300+ employees were invited to join the public as the SpeedSource crew got to show off their two Mazda RX-8 GT cars. The dynamic between the race team and dealership is an example of Mazda’s engagement in motorsports. It was clearly evident that every technician thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with the race team as they looked over the cars.
The championship race was tightened even further after Montreal. The #70 Castrol Edge Mazda RX-8 retains third place, but is now only 5 points away from the lead. The season’s final race will take place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. There is no doubt that the race will be an all-out shootout as teams will hold nothing behind. Be sure to catch the season finale live on SPEED on September 17th at 3 PM ET.
Montreal, Quebec 2011 - RACE GALLERY