Las Vegas: Raphael Matos pre-race notes

Rafa Matos Looking to Familiar Faces to Launch Championship Assault on Atlantics Title Young, Brazilian Sees Odds in His Favor at Vegas LAS VEGAS, Nev. April 5, 2007 -- After an off-season of jumping from one car to the next, Raphael "Rafa" ...

Rafa Matos Looking to Familiar Faces to Launch Championship Assault on Atlantics Title

Young, Brazilian Sees Odds in His Favor at Vegas

LAS VEGAS, Nev. April 5, 2007 -- After an off-season of jumping from one car to the next, Raphael "Rafa" Matos is just hours away from settling into the seat that he hopes to race to the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda Series title. Rafa, a native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, now living in Miami, has raced in the A1GP Series for A1 Team Brasil and piloted the Mazda factory entry in the P2 class at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring since closing the 2006 Atlantic Championship with three pole positions, four podiums and one victory. Now, in Sunday's Grand Prix of Vegas, for the first time in his professional career, the young Brazilian will enjoy familiar surroundings in 2007 as he returns to drive the No. 6 ProWorks/Sierra Sierra Enterprises Mazda.

As Rafa moves closer to the top of the international motorsports ladder, the Atlantic Series is the official "feeder" series to the Champ Car World Series, continuity becomes the key to success. For 2007, Rafa is considered one of the top contenders for the championship, he finished fourth last year in his rookie season, and his familiarity with not only the series, the cars and the tracks but his understanding

"It couldn't be better," offered Rafa in reference to his 2007 program. "In Sebring [pre-season testing] we were quickest; in Houston and Laguna Seca we were second quickest in testing. The whole team is very confident about the season. I think it couldn't be better in the team environment, between James [Hinchcliffe, Sierra Sierra teammate] and me and the engineers. There is a lot of information coming with the testing.

Sunday's Vegas Grand Prix promises to be one of the most challenging season-openers in years. The 2.4- mile track is comprised of Las Vegas streets that no one has had the ability to test on. Again, Rafa's familiar surroundings will help him overcome the unfamiliar circuit. When added to his natural ability to be quick on new tracks, and street courses, Rafa is looking forward to the season-opener.

"I believe the event itself is great," said Rafa. "It is a great place to have good attendance. People are there having fun and they get to see a car race in the middle of the city. I feel very positive and confident about the weekend. I feel that my driving style adapts to very fast and flowing tracks and to the other extreme, the street courses. Because the first three races are street races, we need to have good results to keep things

-credit: mm

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Series Atlantic
Drivers Rafa Matos