TEAM NEWS: SpeedSource Battles Mid-Season Obstacles at the Glen

Photo by John Thawley Watkins Glen, NY - Coming into the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen weekend determined to regain their usual podium-finish results, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series GT points leader SpeedSource found tough challenges in unexpected places. The 11th place finish at the Memorial Day GT Classic at Lime Rock Park put an uncharacteristic smudge on the team's otherwise remarkable record, and the team looked to the rolling hills of upstate New York for the upswing.

The comparably lightweight Mazdaspeed GT RX-8 and its rotary engine have held their own against the class challengers, but this weekend the battles came well before the start of the race. "We definitely faced some setup issues and worked hard through every session to bring the car up to speed," commented team owner Sylvain Tremblay. Opting to run the qualifying session himself, Tremblay put the No. 70 in the 7th spot to start, not the team's usual output. Finally, the last practice session on race day gave Tremblay confidence in the car's speed.

With co-driver Nick Ham at the ready and team Technical Director David Haskell calling the strategy, the team took advantage of the first lap yellow to top off and fulfill the 45-minute pit rule. Running as high as 11th, Tremblay stayed put during the fuel and tires-only stop at about the one-hour mark. "I felt confident in the car and was happy with the lap times I was turning. We were in a good position for that point in the race, running second, and then I started having trouble with the brakes."

Tremblay suddenly dropped back to 7th behind sister-car No. 69, and just before the flag-waving lap to commemorate the life of Bob Snodgrass, Tremblay's suspension gave way and No. 70 slammed nose-first into the tires off turn four. Tremblay walked away unscathed physically, but the uphill battle he now faces to rebuild the car impacts the entire team.

"I have every confidence in my team, and this weekend showed us we have to be even more focused and determined. We have the talent and heart to get the car back together. The question is if we have enough time." The upcoming Emco Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio looms at the end of June.

For the FXDD-sponsored No. 69 of Emil Assentato, the weekend also had challenges. During qualifying, Jeff Segal had only one flying hot lap - but good enough for a 5th place start. Also taking a quick first pit stop under the first yellow, No. 69 held a steady, trouble-free pace throughout the race. Late in the day, contact with the No. 07 sent the hopes for a podium finish spiraling as Emil Assentato fell back to 8th place at the checker.

With six races remaining in the Rolex Sports Car Series schedule, championship-winning SpeedSource is unrelenting, for this is where the mettle of a team is tested. The No. 70 Mazda GT RX-8 will have to come back stronger than ever to stay in the hunt for the 2007 championship.

"We're definitely working through the technical issues in front of us," commented David Haskell. "And with the support of Mazda and all our fans, we won't disappoint."

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