Dempsey Racing VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT Teams Shift Focus to Sunday's Race after Qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 8, 2012) – Dempsey Racing and its VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT teams, with driver Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman, quickly shifted their focus to race preparation Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca after qualifying for tomorrow’s Continental Tire Sports Car Festival GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race.
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.
Putman turned a top lap time of 1:29.570 (89.50 mph) in the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT to qualify 12th while Dempsey will grid 14th after clocking in at 1:30.372 (89.152 mph) in the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT.
“I think the boys did a good job in qualifying with 12th and 14th, respectively, for Charlie and Patrick,” Foster said. “Even though we are at Mazda Raceway, it didn’t appear to be Mazda day in qualifying. I think the highest qualifying Mazda was in eighth, but we are fine. We are going to do the best we can with the cars we got. Patrick found some time in qualifying that he hadn’t before, he is getting better and better every time he gets out there in this car, and that is what is important for him.”
Dempsey and Foster are co-driving a 2008 Mazda RX-8 GT back-up car on loan from Yellow Dragon Motorsports after their primary car was heavily damaged in accident last month at Watkins Glen International.
“That’s the fastest we have gone all weekend,” Dempsey said. “For the development of where this particular car is, it’s four years old, it doesn’t have the same nose that all of the other RX-8s have at the moment, but that is the fastest we have gone so far in qualifying. I got a good lead out with Charlie, which is good, and just went for it a couple of times. So, we are in the show, it will be fun, it is a fun track, the car is what it is, and we will make the most of it.”
Dempsey Racing came into this weekend’s event knowing they would be lacking some speed to the competition.
“Our overall pace is good for the long run, and our short-term pace is getting better,” Espenlaub said. “It is still obviously a little down on some straightaway speed. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has that nice speed trap here on the front straight so it is kind of evident to everybody that we are down a little bit on miles per hour. But I am very positive for the race, once again the guys have been working really hard, and I think the Bass 2 Billfish car will be in the front.”
The lack of pace hasn’t prevented first year Rolex Series driver Putman, or Dempsey Racing in total, from some improved performance.
“I am improving as a driver, the team is improving its execution, so it’s all good,” Putman said. “Everybody asks ‘how’s it going?’ You look at the time sheets, we are kind of hanging in there, not where we would like to be, obviously, but we are hanging in there. If you look at it in terms of an execution standpoint, however, we feel very good about how we are performing as a team. We are really happy with the program and how we are doing.”
Race-day Sunday begins with a 20-minute final practice at 8:40 a.m. local time before 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.