Espenlaub Leads Dempsey Racing's VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT Effort in Opening Practice at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 7, 2012) – Charles Espenlaub led Dempsey Racing’s practice effort Friday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where he cracked the top-10 in the day’s final session in the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT while clocking in as one of the top-three Mazda RX-8 GTs competing this weekend at the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival.
The featured 2-3/4 hour Continental Tire Sports Car Festival sprint is Round 12 of 13 races on this year’s calendar and can be seen live on SPEED this Sunday, September 9, at 3 p.m. EDT/12 p.m. PDT.
Espenlaub was quick to credit Dempsey Racing lead engineer Kirt Wightman for the No. 41’s improved performance on Friday. Espenlaub’s top lap time of the day was 1:28.717 (90.815 mph) in the No. 41 Mazda RX-8 GT he co-drives with Charlie Putman.
“Kirt is kind of the mad scientist back there,” Espenlaub said. “He has been compiling notes over the last few years and I think he has come up with a formula that really seems to work. He has been going in a positive direction with every change, and Charlie is really is enjoying those changes as well. He is doing really well, he is really enjoying driving, and it is a great track here at Mazda Raceway. We are making some more changes tonight and I am willing to bet it is going it be even more positive. On the long runs we are really good but we are getting better on the short run too.”
Dempsey and Foster worked with the Dempsey Racing crew Friday on tuning a back-up Mazda RX-8 GT they are using at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the second consecutive year. Both times, the replacement car was rushed into action when the team’s primary No. 40 Mazda was damaged in accidents just prior to the Mazda Raceway event.
“It is great to be here for VISIT FLORIDA,” Dempsey said. “I am not sure if we will have the pace, but we’re out there pounding around, and if I can stay close to what Joe is doing in the car, anything can happen during the race. It is really important for us to be here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and you really have to thank all of those guys and our crew for making this happen.”
Dempsey and Foster are returning to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series after missing the most recent race in Montreal last month while racing the team’s ALMS P2 Trina Solar/Drink GNC/Motegi Racing Lola-Judd.
“Patrick and I both missed the last race at Montreal,” Foster said. “Scott Maxwell and Tom Long did a fantastic job there, and after a wreck at Watkins Glen just a few weeks ago, we wouldn’t be here or have made Montreal without the help of Jack Smith and the Yellow Dragon guys. They were kind enough to loan us their 2008 car, we are doing the best we can with it, the objective is to just do good pit stops, good driver changes and see if we can get in the top-10 again.”
Foster, Dempsey’s co-driver and motorsports business partner, was impressed with the No. 41 team’s effort on Friday.
“I thought in the Bass 2 Billfish car Charles did an awesome lap or two in the 41, and as a driver pairing, the big thing is how close Charlie Putman is getting to Charles,” Foster said. “If you look at the average of them as a pair, they are doing really awesome.”
Espenlaub likes the No. 41’s prospects for Sunday’s race.
“We were actually on older tires in practice,” Espenlaub said. “Kirt and everybody at Dempsey Racing, they have been working really hard, we have got that Mazda working fantastic. Every session they make a change, and it has been a positive change, and I am actually really looking forward to this race. I think we have a good shot here.”
Saturday’s schedule at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca includes final practice and qualifying that morning while race-day Sunday begins with a 20-minute final practice at 8:40 a.m. local time. That afternoon’s featured Continental Tire Sports Car Festival race begins at 12 p.m. PDT.
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 in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series since 2007. A primary partner for the Mazda program is VISIT FLORIDA (www.VISITFLORIDA.com), the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, and its www.ShareaLittleSunshine.org and www.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, Racing Electronics (www.racingelectronics.com), the number one source for professional race communications worldwide, 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.