Through the ups and downs of Watkins Glen and Mosport, SpeedSource Race Engineering got a recent reminder of the highs and lows of sports car racing in the Grand-Am Cup. After an early retirement during the Chemung Canal Trust 200 on June 18 in western New York, the team went on to take second place in the Mosport 200 the following weekend. Through it all they remain the top contenders in the Sport Touring (ST) class.
Team members were disheartened to see the car driven right out of contention only three laps after the start. Not to have the #70 SpeedSource Mazdaspeed RX-8 positioned for a podium finish left Sylvain Tremblay and co-driver David Haskell extremely disappointed. "We felt really good about the changes we had made after qualifying. On that 3rd lap we simply had two drivers fighting for real estate. It was just one of those racing incidents and it left the #70 totally out of the race. But considering the carnage that occurred throughout the race, we were very pleased to have only one car with significant damage," stated Tremblay, SpeedSource team owner and driver.
With four other SpeedSource RX-8s contending for position in the caution-filled race, Tremblay was happy to see them all return to pit lane in good condition. The depth of the team also proved itself. SpeedSource closed out the race with three top-ten finishes. Driving the #65 car, Billy Johnson and Harry Kintzi took 7th place in the race. Following close behind, the #68 drivers Scott Schlesinger and Jeff Altenburg finished in 8th place. Drivers Rich Walker and John Bisignano took 10th in their #67 car. Marcelo Abello and Charles Espenlaub also brought home the #66 car in good order.
After a single day of repairs and preparation in the Watkins Glen paddock, SpeedSource arrived at Mosport, clearly ready to leave their bad luck and disappointment behind them.
"We were running the cars very fast in practice. We didn't do so well in qualifying, mostly because the super charged cars are very fast in cool weather. We did make some big adjustments after qualifying," Tremblay remarked.
David Haskell kept the RX-8 in contention during a hard early stint. Phenomenal pit work mid-race took the #70 straight up to a top three position. Tremblay fought long and hard to stay ahead of the competition and led over 20 laps. Then after the final restart the #70 dropped back to second place.
During the last lap of the Mosport 200, Tremblay worked up along side of the #00 car but it was not quite enough. The #70 car finished the race 0.4 seconds behind the winner.
"We were very fortunate to lead, especially after the weekend we had in New York. We are leading the Team and Manufacturer's standings right now. David is 6 points away from the Driver's standing leader and I am in third. We are going to really work hard through the end of the season to put on a good show for the Mazda fans and keep finishing on the podium," added Tremblay.
Again joining the SpeedSource team, Marcelo Abello and Charles Espenlaub in the #66 car finished in 12th place. Scott Schlesinger and Jeff Altenburg took 14th in the SpeedSource #68 car; and Rich Walker and John Bisignano finished in 16th in their #67 car.
The Barber Park 250 on July 30th is next on the schedule, and gives the team a small respite from their recent travels. Tremblay and Haskell took 1st place at the Birmingham, Alabama, track in 2004. SpeedSource will race the following weekend on the street circuit of Trois-Rivères, where the team claimed victory in 2001.
SpeedSource is proud to represent: Mazda, Mazdaspeed, Hawk, Sparco, Racing Hart, Motec, Dynamic Suspension, Mechanix Wear, and Mother's Wax and Polishes.