LIME ROCK,Conn. (May 30,2011) – James Gué and Dane Cameron scored their second-straight GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series fourth-place finish in the No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving & Salvage Mazda RX-8 GT in the Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park on Monday where teammates Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster ran well before a late-race retirement in the No. 40 VISIT FLORIDA/ModSpace/Construct Corps/Trina Solar Mazda RX-8 GT.
Dempsey was making his first career race start of any kind at Lime Rock while Gué and Cameron were hoping to match or improve on last year’s then team-best second-place finish in the No. 41. At times in the time 2-3/4-hour sprint race on the tight 1.50-mile road course,it looked like Gué and Cameron just might pull it off.
“Overall I was really happy with the day,” Gué said. “We basically got a bit behind in qualifying after we fixed a brake caliper issue and track position is everything here. It took a long time to get to the front in my stint after we qualified lower than we would have liked,but we eventually got there,it just took a little more time. Strategy wise,Dane did a great job at the end,very pleased with the weekend,it’s just a little frustrating we can’t seem to get back on the podium. We are so close,but it will come.”
After starting seventh,Gué raced to as high as third 45 minutes into his opening stint and pitted in that position to hand the car over to Cameron 20 minutes later. Cameron continued in fifth but quickly moved back to third and challenged for the podium through his second and final pit stop before a slight miscue on track.
“I made a mistake at the end and hurt something,which I am not real happy about,” Cameron said. “I feel like we could have been on the podium,but I got the chicane wrong,hit the curbs wrong and might have damaged something,I don’t know exactly,but I just kind of had to hang on for the last little bit of it.”
Despite the podium near-miss,Cameron was still pleased with the No. 41’s result.
“Obviously it is great to be in the top five again,pleased to be fourth,and one race ago we were very happy to be fourth,” Cameron said. “This time we were a little bit disappointed to be fourth and,as you might expect,we were looking for a little bit more. It was a very good day for points,and we should be quite solid,but it is such a physical race track and it is so difficult with the traffic. For us to just stay clean and not really have any contact or big incidents was kind of the name of the game. We just tried to mind our own business and stay out of trouble.”
Dempsey stayed out of trouble all day long in his Lime Rock debut. A unique one-day format,Dempsey practiced in the No. 40 in a steady morning rain shower,later qualified the Mazda in 11th and didn’t put a wheel wrong when he drove more than the first full hour of the race.
“It was great to finally get a chance to race at Lime Rock,” said Dempsey,who is a native of Maine. “I have been here before with Joe,but never to race,and it is tough,very physical. It really requires a lot of attention,but I just focused on consistent lap times and worked hard on learning all of the turns and unique characteristics of the track. I could feel something a little wrong with the car during the stint and it is a real shame for everybody and the guys that we couldn’t get to the finish. They have all worked so hard,these things happen,but still a good day,for both Dempsey Mazdas.”
Foster took over from Dempsey and ran competitive laps before slowing with mechanical problems in the race’s final 30 minutes.
“The car itself was very fast today,” Foster said. “In the end we had a bearing issue in the transmission,certainly not a preparation thing,as usual the VISIT FLORIDA/ModSpace/Construct Corps/Trina Solar Mazda was very well prepared,but we just had a rare issue inside the transmission. Patrick first noticed it and commented on it early in the race and we had a vibration that just got progressively worse and worse and worse.”
Foster,Dempsey’s driving coach and racing business partner,was pleased with his debuting teammate’s performance at Lime Rock.
“This is the first time Patrick ever raced at Lime Rock Park,” Foster said. “He showed up in the rain this morning,did a fantastic job,qualified well,started well,passed cars and really did a great job. Our overall objective,honestly,was to have a car we could take to Watkins Glen,based on what happened to us last year in this race,where we had a pile of parts,so we are pretty darn happy.”
Lime Rock kicked off a tough,back-to-back stretch if races that has the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series schedule back on track again on Friday for the opening day of Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Dempsey and Foster will be joined by Charles Espenlaub to reunite three of the four drivers who finished a career-best third in the No. 40 in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Tom Long was also part of that Rolex 24 podium effort.
“We are grateful,given the unique nature of this event,to have both cars in one piece,” Foster said. “The No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving Mazda is now the highest Mazda in the points,so a good day for that car and team.”
The No. 41 Team Seattle/Global Diving & Salvage Mazda RX-8 GT team has jumped to third in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT Team Championship standings with 128 points. They trail the second-place team by just five points and are only 13 markers out of first. The No. 40 Mazda RX-8 GT team is 11th in the championship race with 104 points.
Next up for Dempsey Racing and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series is next Saturday’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The six-hour endurance race starts at 1 p.m. ET and can be seen in same-day coverage at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT,Saturday,June 4.
– Patrick Dempsey arrived in Lime Rock fresh from yesterday’s Indianapolis 500 where he was part of a race-morning press conference announcing a new charity initiative with industry leading,global solar panel manufacturer Trina Solar Limited (NYSE: TSL). The company has become a sponsor of Dempsey Racing and Trina Solar logos were displayed on the No. 40 in today’s race.
Together,Trina and Dempsey Racing will establish a solar charity initiative in the near future. Trina was also an associate sponsor of the 500 pole-winning Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry of Alex Tagliani as well as the team car driven by Townsend Bell.
“The 2011 season has already been a fantastic year for Dempsey Racing,and it continues to get better as we join with Trina Solar in the pursuit of excellence on and off the track,” Dempsey said. “The future of our sport and our world lies in clean,renewable energy,and we’ve been looking for partners who can help myself and the team actively promote these technologies on a worldwide scale. We are excited to be allied with Trina Solar.”
– Gué and Cameron extended the No. 41 team’s top-10 finishing record to 16 straight races,dating back to last year’s Grand Prix of Miami.
About Dempsey Racing
A fulltime and year-round enterprise,Dempsey Racing is a professional sports car auto racing team based in the greater Atlanta area in Norcross,Georgia. Owned by actor/driver Patrick Dempsey,the team races in support of the Team Seattle Guild to benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital Heart Center and the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in Dempsey’s hometown of Lewiston,Maine.
Dempsey Racing Partners
Dempsey Racing is an official Mazda Racing Team and has competed exclusively in Mazda RX-8 GTs since 2007. Additional team partners include Global Diving & Salvage,Inc,the largest diving contractor on the West Coast,VISIT FLORIDA,the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida,ModSpace,a North American leader in temporary and permanent modular buildings and portable storage,Construct Corps,a leading provider of temporary skilled workers for the construction industry,and Specialized Bicycle Components,a manufacturer and worldwide supplier of technically advanced bicycles and related components.