Miami: Segal, Assentato Take GT Victory in SpeedSource Mazda RX-8

Mazda dominated at Homestead-Miami, with the #69 winning the class

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Jeff Segal passed SpeedSource teammate Sylvain Tremblay on the race's lone restart with 13 minutes remaining and went on to win GT class honors in Saturday's Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 69 FXDD Mazda RX-8.

It was the third GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 triumph in the last six races for Segal and Emil Assentato. It was also the second victory of the year for SpeedSource, with Tremblay's No. 70 Castrol Syntec Mazda RX-8 winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Assentato was also the top Pro-Am driver in GT.

Tremblay and new regular SpeedSource co-driver Jonathan Bomarito led a GT class leading 44 laps, although Tremblay - who led 27 laps - fell back to fourth in the closing laps.

Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis finished second in the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro, followed by Leh Keen and James Gue in the No. 41 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8.

Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand finished a solid fifth in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW M6. The car ran only three laps in practice prior to the race and did not run in qualifying due to problems with the power steering. Team owner Will Turner installed a power steering unit from a Daytona Prototype prior to the race, and Auberlen and Hand ran in contention throughout the event, with Hand leading four laps.

Paul Edwards started from the GT pole in the Banner Racing No. 07 Mobil 1 Corvette and led the opening 31 laps before turning the car over to motorcycle legend Scott Russell. Edwards returned to the car for the closing shift, finishing sixth - one position ahead of Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster in the No. 40 Dempsey Racing Mazda RX-8.

Ted Ballou and Andy Lally had the highest-finishing Porsche, placing eighth in the No. 66 AXA Porsche GT3.

A turning point came on lap 81 of the two-hour, 45-minute race. The cockpit of the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda RX-8 exploded into flames, and Jordan Taylor came to a stop in the middle of pit road. The blaze was quickly extinguished and the race remained under green.

Taylor was uninjured in the incident, but the Mazda started by Todd Lamb was eliminated after having a strong run.

"It wasn't as big a fire as it looked," said Taylor, an 18-year-old college student. "It ended up being some of the insulation in the exhaust catching fire."

Rounding out the top 10 were John Edwards and Adam Christodoulou, where were ninth in the debut of the SpeedSource No. 68 Nuclear Clean Air Energy Mazda RX-8, and Joe and Wayne Nonnamaker in the No. 43 Team Sahlen Mazda RX-8.

The next race for the GRAND-AM Rolex Series will be the April 10 Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.