Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT Teams Qualify Seventh and 12th For Saturday's Race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. (July 8 2011) – James Gué turned the seventh fastest lap in the No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving & Salvage Mazda RX-8 GT while team owner/driver Patrick Dempsey clocked in 12th quickest in the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA/ModSpace/Construct Corps/Trina Solar Mazda RX-8 GT Friday in qualifying for Saturday’s Continental Tire Festival of Speed Powered by Mazda race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
“The car is OK, but actually I am pretty disappointed,” said Gué, who turned a top lap time of 1:30.289 (89.233 mph). “At the very least we should have been in the top five. We went a lot quicker, but every one else went even quicker, so I don’t know what the deal is. We just don’t seem to have the speed right now.”
One thing that may be in the No. 41’s corner is a good long-run setup.
“We will try a couple of things, we have a little bit of time to do a little more science project,” Cameron said. “It seemed pretty OK on older tires earlier, we seemed to be pretty comparable. The weather and the track here changes drastically and affects everything, so maybe it came to other people and didn’t quite come to us. Tomorrow it is going to be a little bit cooler again so we have to look at that to see if we need to try anything to work a little better in the afternoon. I think we are OK on old tires so maybe it will come back to us a little bit.”
Dempsey qualified a No. 40 that is on loan from Yellow Dragon Motorsports after the team’s primary Mazda RX-8 GT was damaged in a hard accident two weeks ago at Road America. Dempsey’s teammate and co-driver Joe Foster escaped serious injury in the crash but the Mazda needed extensive repairs that are currently being made at the team shop in the Atlanta area.
“The most important thing is that we are here,” said Dempsey, who lapped at 1:31.599 (87.995 mph). “That was the big battle this week, but once again the team has really rallied. They have done a great job but we just haven’t had the results that show how hard they have worked and their effort. We just can’t thank those guys enough. We had a lot we had to figure out on this car, it’s definitely handling different than what we are used to, but I think I was consistent in qualifying and got the most I could get out of the car.”
Dempsey Racing regular Charles Espenlaub joined Dempsey in driving the No. 40 Friday while Foster deliberately stayed out of the car as he continues to feel some minor effects of the Road America accident.
“Charles and Patrick did a good job today working on the setup,” Foster said. “As an older car we are definitely behind the eight ball but they are ringing about as much out of it as they can. The plan tomorrow is for me to do the morning warm up, see how I feel, and if I feel good, then we all three will do the race.”
Espenlaub, along with Tom Long, joined Dempsey and Foster for the No. 40’s best career finish in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona where they placed third. Espenlaub was also part of a three driver rotation in the No. 40 in April’s sprint race at Barber Motorsports Park.
“At Barber we did the same thing,” Foster said. “We wanted to try to get Charles some more seat time in the car even though Patrick was there, so we did two driver changes, which worked out fine. In this case, I admit I am not quite 100% so this seems like the intelligent choice.”
Espenlaub, a longtime Mazda driver, is always willing to step in when Dempsey Racing calls.
“Everybody at Dempsey Racing, we are all a big family, whatever we can do to help each other out we will,” Espenlaub said. “This weekend Joe is feeling the blues from the events at the last race and hopefully he will be able to get back in and do his part and, if not, we will pull our share on the other end or work it out where we can all get the result that we need.”
Race-day Saturday starts with final practice at 8:55 a.m. before that afternoon’s Continental Tire Festival of Speed Powered by Mazda at 2:30 p.m.
– Ross Needham, the No. 40 Mazda RX-8 GT car chief, has skipped this weekend’s race to lead the repairs of the damaged primary car back at the team shop in Atlanta. Chief engineer Kirt Wightman is in turn pulling double duty at Mazda Raceway as both the engineer and car chief for the “Yellow Dragon” No. 40. The first step in the rebuild process was to bring the stripped down chassis to Riley Technologies in North Carolina for the necessary repairs. The chassis is now back at the Dempsey shop where Needham and others are putting in some long days in order to be ready for the July 22 – 24 race at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
– Gué shared his thoughts on Wednesday’s announcement that the Rolex Sports Car Series will be part of NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) next year. “Indy is certainly a long way down the road,” Gué said. “We are just trying to get through this year but certainly any opportunity, if it does present itself for us to be able to go next year, would be great. That track has so much history, just the name itself carries a lot of weight, so just to race there, and have the opportunity to do well would be a huge plus. I have been to watch the Indy 500 once and the Formula 1 race once, but I have never been on track there and it certainly looks like a neat place to race.”
About Dempsey Racing
A fulltime and year-round enterprise, Dempsey Racing (www.dempseyracing.net) is a professional sports car auto racing team based in the greater Atlanta area in Norcross, Georgia. Owned by actor/driver Patrick Dempsey, the team races in support of the Team Seattle Guild (www.teamseattle.com) to benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital Heart Center (www.seattlechildrens.org) and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing (www.dempseycenter.org) in Dempsey’s hometown of Lewiston, Maine.
Dempsey Racing Partners
Dempsey Racing is an official Mazda (www.mazdausa.com) racing team and has competed exclusively in Mazda RX-8 GTs since 2007. Additional team partners include Global Diving & Salvage (www.gdiving.com), the largest diving contractor on the West Coast, VISIT FLORIDA (www.VISITFLORIDA.com), the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, ModSpace (www.modspace.com), a North American leader in temporary and permanent modular buildings and portable storage, Construct Corps (www.constructcorps.com), a leading provider of temporary skilled workers for the construction industry, and Specialized Bicycle Components (www.specialized.com), a manufacturer and worldwide supplier of technically advanced bicycles and related components.