The Grand-Am Rolex Series is set to wrap things up at Lime Rock Park on Saturday afternoon. The season has gone by so fast. It feels that just yesterday we started the year at Daytona with our new Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel's. Since then the development of Mazda's new technology with the diesel has seen great improvements. SpeedSource has claimed eight victories with the Mazda6 and we look to finish the season on a high note this weekend!
Looking back at the previous round, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the No. 70 claimed the victory to keep the win streak alive. We were joined by another manufacturer at the event, Lotus. Both the BGB Porsche and Lotus kept our Mazda's true with SpeedSource leader Sylvain Tremblay holding off the Porsche for the victory at our home track. As for the No. 00, we suffered a driveshaft failure early in the race. Our SpeedSource crew got a new driveline installed in record time to claw back the laps we had lost. Ultimately, we got within two laps of a podium finish.
I also made my Continental Tire ST race debut with Freedom Autosport over the weekend. This was my first start in the ST class. I was selected to start the race in order to have enough time to regroup before the GX race later in the day. In qualifying, the team's No. 25 car followed me to get the best draft opportunity. We ended up qualifying 1-2 and locked up the front row for Mazda and Freedom Autosport in the MX-5. It was a great way to start the weekend!
The Mazda strategy for the race was simple, score points. I was given the green light to see what I could do with the car during the first stint. Within a few laps I had built up a 10-second lead over second place. At that point we decided to slow down a bit to save fuel. My time out front was great, simply driving! Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is fantastic and the little MX-5 reminded me of a go-kart with its handling capabilities.
Unfortunately, the extended yellow, due to the heavy impact of another class car at the corkscrew, took us out of our pit window and we had to pit at the end of the yellow. I handed the No. 27 over to Brad Rampleberg to come back through the field. He had a good run with many battles along the way but could not get into the top-ten at the finish. In the end, the Freedom Autosport guys secured another 1-2 finish with its other MX-5s which continued Mazda's winning streak at Mazda Raceway in the ST class to three straight years.
The reason the MX-5 reminded me of running karts was because you have to be so smooth and keep your momentum up. My SpeedSource GX teammate, Tom Long, helped get me up to speed in the car, for which I was very thankful. The Freedom Autosport guys prepared a fantastic car, which afterward I told them I hope to get the chance again....Well, a few weeks later here we are at Lime Rock Park for the season finale and they have asked me back! Needless to say I am very excited to get back in the MX-5 where I left off at Mazda Raceway. This weekend I have Tristan Nunez, my SpeedSource GX co-driver, with me and he will be starting the race. Our goal, place another Mazda in the top five!
The bullring that is Lime Rock Park should provide great racing in both divisions. The ST race is today (Friday) at 3:25 p.m. ET and the Grand Am Rolex race with our Mazda6 SpeedSource GX cars is Saturday afternoon live on Fox Sports 2. My VisitFlorida.com/SpeedSource team needs to win with our Porsche competition finishing fourth to secure the team championship. Mazda has a good grasp on the manufacturers title and looks to bring that home Saturday afternoon for the new SKYACTIV-D Technology.
This is the last race of the season for us but we have a busy off-season coming up. Stay tuned for some – hopefully – exciting news!