A trio of SpeedSource drivers will end their battle for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 GT driving championship Sept. 11 at Miller Motorsports Park, which hosts the 12th and final round of the season.
Co-drivers Jeff Segal and Emil Assentato in the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8, leaders of the standings since late April, hold an eight-point advantage (318-310) over SpeedSource team owner and co-driver Sylvain Tremblay, who drives the No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8. Tremblay's co-driver, Jonathan Bomarito, did not drive in the round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, thus splitting their totals.
A long shot could be defending class co-champion Leh Keen and current co-driver James Gue, driving Dempsey Racing's No. 41 Global Diving & Salvage Mazda RX-8. They would have to finish third or better and hope Segal, Assentato and Tremblay do not score points in order to take the title. Bomarito could also win the title, but he'd have to finish fourth, with Segal, Assentato and Tremblay scoring zero points.
Segal and Assentato, paired together full time since the 2009 Rolex Series season, finished 16th in January's Rolex 24 At Daytona but have rattled off a consecutive streak of 10 finishes of fourth or better, including two victories and five podium finishes. They have led by as many as 10 points and as few as one since taking command of the lead.
Assentato, at age 61, is among the most experienced drivers in the field. He started, and then stopped, racing in the 1970s after an injury and founded a company called FXDD, one of the world's leading currency conversion companies, based in New York. He returned to racing in the 1990s in the Ferrari Challenge Series and the joined Grand-Am's Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in 2001. He competed in the first Rolex Series race in 2000 – the Rolex 24 At Daytona – and has been a full-time competitor in the Rolex Series in every season but one since 2004.
Segal and Tremblay each seek to join Craig Stanton as drivers who have won titles in both the Rolex Series and Continental Tire Challenge. In 2007, Segal became the then-youngest champion – at age 22 – to win a Continental Tire Challenge Grand Sport (GS) crown, when he triumphed with Automatic Racing team owner Jep Thornton. Segal began karting at age 12 and driving cars at age 15.
Tremblay, a Continental Tire Challenge champion in 2001 in the GS class and again in 2004 in Street Tuner (ST), has been close before to winning the Rolex Series GT title. In 2007, he brought Mazda into Rolex Series GT racing, and won in only his second race, in Mexico City. He went on to lead the standings at one point, and entered the season finale at Miller with a chance to win the title. However, a first-lap accident totaled the team's Mazda RX-8, dropping Tremblay to sixth in points.
Tremblay, whose best finish in points was third in 2008, founded SpeedSource – which prepares each Mazda RX-8 in the GT field – in 1995. The team has run Mazdas exclusively since 2004.
If neither Segal, Assentato nor Tremblay win at Miller but finish the race with the same number of points, Tremblay would earn the title on a tiebreaker based on second-place finishes (2-1; all drivers currently have two wins).
Mazda has already wrapped up the Rolex Series GT manufacturer championship, and one of the two SpeedSource cars is expected to be crowned the team titlist, as long as they compete at Miller.