Top-Five Qualifying Effort for Charles Espenlaub at Barber Motorsports Park in No. 41 VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (March 30, 2012) – Dempsey Racing and Charles Espenlaub fielded the fastest Mazda RX-8 GT at Barber Motorsports Park for the second-consecutive day Friday in qualifying for tomorrow’s Porsche 250 where the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT was fifth fastest with a lap time of 1:31.139 (90.850 mph). The Porsche 250, the first GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series sprint race of the season, is scheduled to start at 12:15 p.m. local time this Saturday, March 31, and can been seen in same-day “virtual live” coverage on SPEED at 4 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. PDT.
Espenlaub will start from the inside of row three in the No. 41 while his teammate and Dempsey Racing owner Patrick Dempsey will grid on the inside of row seven after a qualifying 13th with a lap time of 1:33.405 (88.646 mph) in the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA/Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8 GT.
Espenlaub is co-driving this season with Charlie Putman, the same duo that captured the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS (Grand Sport) Championship. Dempsey shares the No. 40 with co-driver and motorsports business partner Joe Foster.
“The Dempsey guys did another great job with the Mazda, we gave it a good lap there, but I think we have a better long-run car,” Espenlaub said. “We will see how that plays out tomorrow during the race. The race is obviously a lot longer than one lap so we will see how it plays out in the end.”
After locking down his top lap in qualifying, Espenlaub picked up and led the No. 40 around the track to show Dempsey the fastest lines.
“Dempsey Racing, we are a family, and Patrick is obviously an important part of that family,” Espenlaub said. “With his other duties he doesn’t get the chance to drive as much as we do and it’s like helping a brother out. We have to get him back up to speed after a long time out of the car, he is doing a great job, and it was good to be able to help him out.”
Dempsey’s quickest lap came in the lead-follow run with Espenlaub.
“Charles was really helping me and I want to congratulate him on a great qualifying run as the top Mazda,” Dempsey said. “That’s great for him and also for the team. He and Charlie have been working really hard, getting a lot of seat time and doing some testing, and you can see the results. I was doing some lead-follow with him today and yesterday, it was really good to get back in the car for the first time since Daytona, and Charles was really helping me with the line.”
Dempsey and his teammates have found Barber’s notoriously tough racing surface to be particularly challenging this weekend.
“Getting the power down is the big issue here,” Dempsey said. “It is a very slick track, always is, but I feel good. I had a good morning practice session but just couldn’t get to the same time in qualifying. I am happy with the overall performance of the team and it is going to be interesting to see how the weather is for tomorrow’s race.”
Rain hit Barber Motorsports Park halfway through Friday’s schedule but had little impact on the morning GRAND-AM Rolex Series sessions.
Starting driver Dempsey will hand the No. 40 off at some point in tomorrow’s race to Foster who will drive the car to the finish.
“As the rules come and go, I think we are doing pretty good with what we got here,” Foster said. “Being the top Mazda is obviously good for us and we are hoping for an even better day tomorrow. Barber is very much a driver’s track, very technical but also very physical for the drivers. It is very difficult to pass here so pit strategy will become paramount.”
The next scheduled on-track session for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series is the featured Porsche 250 tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. local time.
- For the second time in as many races this season, Dempsey is also competing this weekend in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series in the No. 71 Aston Martin Vantage with Multimatic Motorsports. Foster and Scott Maxwell, who co-drove to the 2008 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Series GS Championship, are full-season entrants in Multimatic’s sister No. 55 Aston Martin. “Just the versatility of being in two different cars that handle completely differently is a big, big plus,” Dempsey said. “It really forces me to make those transitions quickly and get up to speed, and it has really helped me overall, both pace wise and with conditioning. I have literally been in the car non-stop all weekend, and that’s what I need, I need to have that seat time. The guys at Multimatic do a fantastic job, the Aston is a really great handling car, it has a lot of romance behind it, and people are very passionate about it, so it is nice to be representing them and for Mazda to allow me to take this opportunity.”
- Putman looks forward to the annual GRAND-AM stop at Barber each year. “The Barber Motorsports Park event continues to get bigger every year, and the atmosphere here is already exciting,” Putman said. “The fans who are lucky enough to be here will see a great event in a beautiful setting with some beautiful Dempsey Racing VISIT FLORIDA Mazdas as well.”
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 Flowery Branch, Georgia. Owned by actor/driver Patrick Dempsey, the team races in support of the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing (www.dempseycenter.org) in Dempsey’s hometown of Lewiston, Maine, and the Team Seattle Guild (www.teamseattle.com) to benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital Heart Center (www.seattlechildrens.org).
About Dempsey Racing’s Partners
Dempsey Racing (www.dempseyracing.net) is an official Mazda (www.mazdausa.com) racing team and has competed exclusively in Mazda RX-8 GTs since 2007. Additional team partners include VISIT FLORIDA (www.VISITFLORIDA.com), the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, and its ShareaLittleSunshine.org and FishingCapital.com promotional programs, and the television show Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller. Additional Dempsey Racing partners include Trina Solar (www.trinasolar.com), a leading manufacturer of high-quality solar photovoltaic (PV) modules that deliver reliable, environmentally-friendly power to homes and businesses and value to customers, and Specialized Bicycle Components (www.specialized.com), a manufacturer and worldwide supplier of technically advanced bicycles and related components. New partners for 2012 include GNC Beverages (www.drinkGNC.com), built upon the 75 years of nutrition innovation from the leader in sports nutrition, Motegi Racing (www.motegiracing.com), a leading manufacturer of competition and high-performance tuning wheels designed and engineered for performance, and Silicon Tech Racing (www.silicontechracing.com) which provides high-tech corporations a dedicated marketing platform through sports car road racing focused on technology executives.