Posted (05/23/2007) -
Monterey, CA -- SpeedSource Race Engineering traveled far from its Sunrise, FL home to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the fourth round of the inaugural Koni Challenge Series Championship. Entered in the #69 SpeedSource Street Tuner Class Mazda RX-8 for the event at Mazda's "home away from home" racetrack was the duo of Dan Allen and Jose Armengol, who came to Laguna Seca having posted three consecutive top ten finishes to begin the season.
The weekend marked Koni Challenge rookie Dan Allen's first laps at the historic track, who was very excited about the opportunity to compete at the racetrack that carries the name of the marque the team represents. "Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was an overall amazing experience," commented Allen. "The #69 RX-8 was right at home here due to the track's numerous "momentum" corners, where our car performs really well. The track was technical, but very entertaining as well with its great elevation changes, especially the world famous 'corkscrew'."
"We began preparing for this event as soon as we rolled off the track at Iowa a few weeks ago," added Armengol. "I hadn't driven Laguna Seca since 2001, so our first step was to study data the team had collected from last year's ST race here last year in order to better prepare both the car as well as us as drivers for the race weekend." Practice time would prove to be in short supply due to a combination of a very busy schedule featuring Grand Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes and GT cars, as well as Koni Challenge Series ST and GS class cars and numerous black flags during the practice sessions.
Armengol would qualify the #69 RX-8 in the 15th starting position for the 21/2 hour race. "I really felt like I let the entire team down in qualifying. I know that there was a lot of speed in the car that I left on the table and I really beat myself up about it Friday night. These are long races, however, so I remained confident that we could still manage to make up many spots during race in spite of my sub par qualifying effort."
That would certainly prove to the case early during the race itself, as the #69 car made its way into the top ten in the opening laps and remained in touch with the leaders throughout the first hour of competition. "I have to take my hat off to my fellow competitors today," said Armengol "On numerous occasions we went side by side through corners and everyone raced tough but clean. More than once I could have sworn that you couldn't slide a cigarette paper between our RX-8 and the i-Moto TSX's." Running inside the top ten after making a driver change and with sufficient fuel to make it to the finish, the SpeedSource ST team would face its most difficult challenge so far this year. A slight off in the corkscrew resulted in losing several laps to the leaders, as well as damaging the nose of the #69 RX-8. "I tagged the wall exiting the corkscrew" said Allen "We were able to get back into the race after pitting, as the SpeedSource crew quickly made repairs and removed the front fascia so we could finish the race." Undeterred, Allen soldiered on and brought the battle-scarred #69 home in 14th place. The result moves the pair into third place in the Driver's championship points tables as the team now quickly turns its attention to preparing for Lime Rock Park only a few short days after loading the transporter for the cross-country trek. Allen goes on to conclude: "With Lime Rock next weekend I am confident we will learn from this weekend and be prepared to race hard in Connecticut."
"Jose and Dan really worked at it this week end, not only spending time analyzing data but listening to all that we had to say about Mazda Raceway, they were like sponges drinking it all in," commented Team Owner Sylvain Tremblay. "For their first visit they did great, much better than the result showed, the "off" by Dan is all part of the learning process, keep in mind that both guys have less than 10<