Team Sahlen started the 2011 ROLEX season off with a fantastic 7th place finish in the ROLEX 24 Hours at Daytona. This result duplicates Team Sahlen’s 7th place finish at the 2010 ROLEX 24 Hours. To further emphasize the irony of Lucky 7, Team Sahlen ended the 2010 season at Miller Motorsports Park with a 7th place in ROLEX GT and Continental ST!!
“Wow, lucky 7 all around. I think I need to go to Vegas and put all my money on Red 7. And the great thing is that all of these results came from the team battling back from adversity. We have been very strong at the end of last season, throughout off season testing and into the New Year. I know that soon we will be knocking on the door for a podium slot.” – shared Joe Nonnamaker
The race started well for Team Sahlen, with Wayne Nonnamaker holding form in line in the top 20, as many competitors treated the race like it was a short 3 hour sprint race. During the next shift, a Ferrari GT competitor failed to yield as Memo Gidley attempted a passing move. This resulted in significant front end damage. “Most teams would have given up when the front end damage occurred. But our team is very experienced and we realized that this is a very long race, and this would be just one of many set backs that we would have to persevere through to get to the end.” – shared Jay Chapman, Team Manager
From that point forward, all of the Team Sahlen drivers continued to take turns behind the wheel of the #42 SpeedSource built RX-8. Although the front end damage denied the drivers from posting strong lap times, each driver did do their part to continue to make progress, getting lap after lap. From falling as far back as 25th in class, Team Sahlen battled back to 13th at the 12 hour mark.
During the late hours of the night, the #42 Mazda had to make an emergency trip back to the garage for repairs that had built up due to the 2nd hour wreck. This set Team Sahlen back to 17th slot on the track. But with over 9 hours to go, the whole Team Sahlen crew battled forward. And as the final seconds ticked off the ROLEX clock, Team Sahlen had run back to 7th place.
“What a great result for the Sahlen team and a fantastic way to kick off a new season. The whole Team Sahlen has been making big changes and it showed with how competitive we were from the very first practice. Then my teammate Wayne, had a great qualifying run and ended up being the fastest Mazda out of a stellar crowd of Mazda teams. As always, the race was a real test of endurance for the drivers, team and the car. The team battled a few mechanical things that saw us losing some time but this is normal for this race. I am proud because the team really made good calls and fixed the issues before they could become major problems. I am excited for the next race and anxious to see how team Sahlen evolves to the next level.” – shared Memo Gidley
“We were very excited going into the 24 after qualifying as the first Mazda. The car performed well all weekend and looked promising going into the race. Unfortunately events didn’t go quite to plan but the team performed flawlessly and we battled back to a solid 7th place. I really look forward to carrying that momentum into the rest of the season with our multi-car team.” – Catherine Crawford Wallace
Round 2 of the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Cown Royal Cask No. 16 will be at Homestead Speedway on March 5th and 6th. At this event, Team Sahlen will be entering all three Mazda RX-8s: #42, #43 & #49.
The 2011 Team Sahlen GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 is supported by Mazda, Mazdaspeed, HRPWorld.com, Cool Shirt, Racetech Seats, BBS, Racing Print Media, Alcon, Mothers Polish, EMCO, TheRaceSite.com, Western New York Flash, Grassroots Motorsports, Castrol Oil, Holliday Canopies, ASC Industries, Muscle Milk, Iannetti Design Ideas, CM Racing