No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT Second Fastest Mazda and Seventh Overall Friday at Lime Rock
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (September 28, 2012) – Charles Espenlaub clocked in a solid seventh overall with the second quickest Mazda lap of the day in the No. 41 FishingCapital.com/Bass 2 Billfish Mazda RX-8 GT in opening practice Friday for this weekend’s GRAND-AM Road Racing Championship at Lime Rock Park. The season-ending GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race can be seen live on SPEED tomorrow, Saturday, September 29, at 3 p.m. EDT/12 p.m. EDT.
Espenlaub shares the No. 41 with Charlie Putman while Joe Foster and Tom Long are co-driving Dempsey Racing’s sister No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA Mazda RX-8 GT in what amounts to the final official appearance of the successful RX-8 GT in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT competition.
“Everybody at Dempsey Racing did a fantastic job again,” Espenlaub said. “Our mad scientist engineer Kirt (Wightman) had a great setup on the car that worked really well for both me and Charlie, it’s pretty exciting.”
Rainy conditions nearly all-day Friday still allowed for some dry running in this morning’s opening session and Espenlaub made the most of it. His top lap time of 55.376 (97.515 mph) was second only to the No. 70 SpeedSource RX-8 GT of the five Mazdas entered at Lime Rock.
Both the No. 41 Bass 2 Billfish car and the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA entry performed well in the wet, however, and Espenlaub wouldn’t mind seeing more rain tomorrow.
“I am curious to see what the weather will do tomorrow,” Espenlaub said. “I actually prefer the kind of damp conditions. It seems to create a little more even playing field that way. We will see. We will save the sunshine for Florida and keep the rain in Lime Rock I hope. I used to try to do some sort of rain dance, but it never seemed to work, so I just let it play out.”
Foster and Long overcame a minor mechanical issue in the morning session for a productive run in the afternoon practice session that was run in a steady rain shower.
"The day went fine, we know where we are at within the class structure, and as Mazdas we ran actually pretty well in the wet,” Foster said. “I like the wet, this is definitely a crazy place in the wet because it is kind of the road racing equivalent of a bull ring, so it is definitely exciting, but everything is going according to plan. We had a little technical problem in the morning session, fixed that and went back out in the rain session to test that and give Tom some laps. He hasn’t really run the car much as the last time he was with us in Indy, the car broke before he got in it. Then it broke this morning before he could get in it, but we were able to get him some laps this afternoon, his first in a GT car here at Lime Rock, and he did a great job.”
Like Long, Putman is also making his Lime Rock GT race debut tomorrow. His first order of business will be to drive the No. 41 in Saturday’s qualifying session, a rare race-day time trial to set the starting field.
“It was relatively dry this morning when we went out along the line,” Putman said. “It was still a little bit wet, and I think that was kind of in our favor for helping us look good. The car was really well balanced and, considering these kind of rainy and dry-damp conditions, that speaks well of our setup. We are thinking it is going to be dry tomorrow so our qualifying session will really be our test session. We will kind of be shooting in the dark from there, but our engineer Kirt has us right in the zone. A little fine tuning from that will have us right there.”
Although the Mazda RX-8 GT remains eligible in GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series competition for the next few seasons, Mazda will focus efforts on its new SKYACTIV-D engine platform in the new GX category in 2013.
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.