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SpeedSource MazdaSpeed RX-8 on GT Pole at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Submitted by Berny Herrera on Monday, May 21, 2007 - 7:11pm

MONTEREY, Calif. (May 18, 2007) -- Outside of perhaps the Rolex 24 At Daytona, no Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve event is more important to the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 team than last Saturday's U.S. Sports Car Invitational delivered by Luggage Express at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

That being the case, Nick Ham dug deep to put the No. 70 Mazdaspeed/Mazda RX-8 on the GT pole position with a last-lap flyer at 1:29.052 (90.473 mph) to put himself and co-driver Sylvain Tremblay in the catbird seat for Round 5 of the 13-race 2007 Rolex Series GT calendar. Ham and Tremblay currently share the GT points lead and would love nothing more than to pick up their third victory in five tries this season.

"It took until the last lap to get it," Ham said. "It was really important for us and for Mazda. This is their home track. With the whole program this year, it was just something we really wanted to do. It wasn't easy. I had to work at it. I kept catching traffic or I made a mistake on my other good lap. That last lap was a really good lap. I didn't leave anything on the table, and luckily we got it in just in time."

Ham's late surge to the pole relegated 19-year-old Eric Lux to second on the grid in the No. 74 Rembrandt Charms/Tafel Racing Porsche GT3. Lux posted a best lap at 1:29.185 (90.338 mph) in the car he shares this weekend with Ian James, who also competed in Sunday's Daytona Prototype event and the KONI Challenge Series Monterey 200 for the Grand Sport class. Lux is still looking for his first career Rolex Series class victory.

Race Report
Championship points co-leaders Sylvain Tremblay and Nick Ham were also frontrunners for nearly two-thirds of the Sunday race, with Ham leading early and Tremblay working his way to the front, trying to run down the Stanton Porsche. After a long battle with the Porsche of Werner, the two unfortunately touched on Lap 53 in Turn 2. Tremblay never challenged for the spot again and fell to seventh at the checkered flag.

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subject:
Race Report Update
author:
date:
May 22, 2007 - 1:15pm


SpeedSource Takes Pole Position and Keeps Points Lead at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Monterey, CA
- For SpeedSource, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the most important of the season. Coming into the event with a stout points lead, the No. 70 Mazda GT RX-8 carried momentum into the race with four top-five finishes, including two wins. The team looked to do well at their manufacturer's home track, and Nick Ham set the rotary-powered RX-8 solidly on pole for the two and a half hour race.

An early caution saw SpeedSource duck into the pits to comply with Grand-Am Rolex rules requiring a pit stop in the first 45 minutes of the race. Ham rejoined the field in ninth place and continued to climb his way back through the pack. By lap 26 he had regained the lead.

Ham held the lead for ten laps before pitting for fuel and a driver change. Team owner Sylvain Tremblay replaced Ham in the driver's seat and rejoined the race in eighth place. Tremblay wasted no time and within eight laps was back in second place.

"Grand-Am added weight to our car after the last race," commented Tremblay. "The change undoubtedly affected us and [Team Technical Director] Dave [Haskell] has worked hard to minimize the effect of the added weight. The Mazda is a very nimble, well-balanced car and we feel confident that we can maintain the car's handling, one of its biggest assets."

With a predominantly caution-free race, Tremblay was forced into the pits with only eleven laps remaining for his last splash of fuel. Back on the track in ninth position, Tremblay valiantly regained two positions in the remaining laps to finish seventh.

While not the podium finish they had come for, the team remains atop the point standings. David Haskell commented on the outcome. "Just prior to the Rolex race, we competed in the Koni Challenge Street Tuner race, which saw a tremendous number of caution periods. We expected a similar race for the GT cars, but unfortunately we didn't have the yellows we needed to get to the end without a final fuel stop." Added Tremblay, "This outcome just makes us hungrier for the next win."

Also posting a strong run, the No. 69 FXDD RX-8 secured a ninth place finish. The duo of Emil Assentato and Nick Longhi ran as high as fourth place. A late-race green flag pit stop dropped the No. 69 to the back of the lead lap and kept the car from climbing its way further up the ranks.

Speed TV coverage of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event airs on May 26th at 8:00 PM EST. With seven races remaining in the 2007 Rolex Sports Car Series GT Class season, SpeedSource travels next to Lime Rock Park, Connecticut, for the Monday, May 28 race. The Lime Rock race will air May 28th at 3:00 PM EST.



About SpeedSource

SpeedSource Race Engineering's 2007 Mazda RX-8 campaign is supported by Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development, Mazda North American Operations, Road & Track, Racing Hart, Sparco, Motec, Hawk Performance Brakes, Dynamic Suspensions, Mothers Wax and Polish, Goodridge, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and Mechanix Wear. For information on SpeedSource's 2007 season, please visit Speedsourceinc.com.

On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas 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 Miatas 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.
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