JaguarRSR RETURNS TO LONG BEACH WITH EXPERIENCE

Paul Gentilozzi
Paul Gentilozzi

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

The JaguarRSR team prepares for round two of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrόn, the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, April 16. After the JaguarRSR XKR GT took its first checkered flag last year on streets of the California town, the team returns with two cars and a driver lineup filled with experience.

Long Beach is the first of two street courses on the 2011 ALMS calendar and it is the shortest race of the season, being two hours in duration on a 1.968, 11- turn temporary course. It is quite a different mindset from the season opener in Sebring, which was 12-hours long (the longest race of the year). "We are quite pleased with our results at Sebring," said Paul Gentilozzi, JaguarRSR Principal Partner. "It was a long race and it showed that we have come a long way with the JaguarRSR XKR GT since last season. Having a shorter race and experienced drivers will be key for us this weekend in Long Beach."

Gentilozzi returns to the cockpit pairing up with P.J. Jones as co-drivers of the #98 JaguarRSR XKR GT. Gentilozzi earned his first professional victory in Long Beach back in 1988, the first of five victories at Long Beach in 15 starts (1 start IMSA Supercar Series; 13 starts in Trans-Am; 1 start in ALMS) with nine qualifying efforts on the front row.

Born in Torrance, California, Jones returns to his "hometown track". His first race was back in 1989 where he finished on the podium driving in the American Racing Series and third in the Toyota Pro-Celebrity Race. In 1990 he raced in both the American Racing Series and Indy Lights (also in 1991). In 1992 he was the overall winner of the Toyota Pro Celebrity Race. His return a few years later was to compete in Champ Car (CART) from 1997-1999 which saw his best finish of 11th in 1998.

The Brazilian duo of Cristiano da Matta and Bruno Junqueira make up the driver line up for the #99 XKR. Many will remember the great battles that involved these two famous open-wheel competitors on track in the Champ Car days, now they join forces and despite a different type of racing machine, these two shouldn't have any issue getting up to speed given their history at Long Beach.

Da Matta's last appearance on the streets of Long Beach was in 2006 in Champ Car. He made six Champ Car starts from 1999 - 2006, with his best start on the outside of row one in 2002 and his best finish as runner-up in 2001. Junqueira returns since racing there last in 2008 and has made eight Champ Car starts. He finished on the podium three years in a row (2003 - 2005) and grabbed the pole in 2004 which followed with his best finish of second.

I grew up 15-20 minutes from the circuit, so it is nice to have family and friends come out and have that "hometown" feel.

P.J. Jones

Not only is the race the shortest race in duration, but is also the shortest on-track time overall for an event. The team will have a two-hour morning practice on Friday before qualifying gets underway at 5:20 pm Pacific Daylight Time. The Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race takes the green flag on Saturday at 4:30 pm PDT and will be telecast in its entirety on ESPN3.com starting at 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. local time. ESPN2 will provide television coverage from 5 to 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 17. International coverage: Fox Sports Middle East (Live on Saturday, April 16); Fox Latin American Networks (Live on Saturday, April 16); MotorsTV (Tape Delayed date/time TBD).

WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY

Cristiano da Matta, co-driver of the #99 JaguarRSR XKR GT

"Returning to Long Beach is very exciting for me. It is a track that I have always enjoyed and had many good results there. It is a nice weekend; a good race overall and a great atmosphere. It is going to a bit different racing in the #99 JaguarRSR XKR GT compared to an open-wheel car. I am used to getting close to the wall, the apexes and the corner exits in an open-wheel car, but it will be a different view from inside the GT cockpit so I will have to approach things a little differently. But it will be like any other track that I will be racing on this season, I hope to quickly get used to it and having known the circuit well from the past, I don't think it is going to catch me."

Paul Gentilozzi, co-driver of the #98 JaguarRSR XKR GT

"I look forward to getting back behind the wheel of the #98 JaguarRSR XKR GT. Long Beach is always a favorite race for me as it holds a lot of wonderful memories in my racing career. Twenty three years ago, the Long Beach Grand Prix became my first professional victory and a race track that I could always count on for a great performance. I have made fifteen starts and I know I have a few more in me, so I can't miss the opportunity to race there again. I think it would be too hard to sit on the sidelines for this one."

#099 Jaguar RSR Jaguar XKR: Bruno Junqueira, Cristiano da Matta, Oriol Servia
#099 Jaguar RSR Jaguar XKR: Bruno Junqueira, Cristiano da Matta, Oriol Servia

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

PJ Jones, co-driver of the #98 JaguarRSR XKR GT

Long Beach is one of my favorite races; it is the greatest street course in the world. I grew up 15-20 minutes from the circuit, so it is nice to have family and friends come out and have that "hometown" feel. I hope it will be the typical perfect California weather, as it is always a great event. Throughout my years of racing, I have had several opportunities to race at Long Beach. When I left Indy Car to join the NASCAR circuit, I remember thinking that I was really going to miss racing there. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to race there again, so coming back and competing in the American Le Mans Series driving the beautiful

  1. 98 JaguarRSR XKR GT is such a wonderful perk."

Bruno Junqueira, co-driver of the #99 JaguarRSR XKR GT

"I like the Long Beach track a lot. I have gotten three podiums in a row; I have never won there, but I have always been running up front. This track has its challenges, but it is a nice layout and located in a beautiful area. It is always a great event and an honor to be a part of as a driver. This year will be a little different though, as I will be co-driving the #99 JaguarRSR XKR GT. I think it will be cool to drive a race car that is based on a "street car" on a street course. I know the track and I think that is the important thing. I think it will help a lot, knowing where to brake and what line to take, but with the GT car it is going to be a little different because the car is much wider than the Champ Car. I am not too concerned about it though, I think after a few laps around I will be acclimated and able to start working with the team to find a setup will make the XKR strong for the race."

-source: jaguar rsr