Sao Paulo: de Ferran Luczo Dragon Racing race report

Strong debut in Brazil Indycar season opener for new Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports team SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - March 14, 2010. With close to 40,000 fans at the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series race in Sao Paulo Brazil, native son Raphael...

Strong debut in Brazil Indycar season opener for new Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports team

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - March 14, 2010. With close to 40,000 fans at the inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series race in Sao Paulo Brazil, native son Raphael Matos delivered a career-best finish by capturing a fine fourth place finish in the rain-shortened Sao Paulo Indy 300. It was an encouraging debut for the exciting Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports team set up to contest the 2010 IndyCar Series.

"It was a great result for us on my personal debut as an Indycar team owner," confirmed team President and former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran. "The team was flawless in the pits; Raphael made no mistakes and was opportunist in the race. All in all we are very proud of our accomplishments in Sao Paulo."

In a race that featured unpredictable weather and a 36-minute red flag delay due to thunderstorms, Matos started 12th, jumped into sixth on the first lap and remained in the top 10 for the entire race.

"It was a long and very physical day, but I'm very proud of the HP team, especially with our pit stops. They did a great job," Matos confirmed. "We all feel good about the fourth place finish. We wanted the podium, but we started 12th and made a lot of progress. Overall, it was a great day."

It was also a day that started early with an 8:00 a.m. practice run and the 8:30 qualifying session that was postponed a day due to track repairs. It was the first time that an IZOD IndyCar Series event held qualifying and race on the same day.

The race shifted to a timed format after the red flag, ending at the two-hour time-limit with only 61 of the 75 scheduled laps completed on the 2.6-mile, 11-turn Anhembi temporary circuit. Team Penske's Will Power won the race followed by Ryan Hundter Reay in second and Vitor Meira in third.

Matos, the 2009 Apex Brazil IndyCar Rookie of the Year, moved into sixth by avoiding a first lap crash that collected three cars, including Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti and Mario Moraes. Matos, the Belo Horizonte native, climbed as high as second and was third with less than 10 laps remaining, but was passed by fellow Brazilian Meira shortly after the final restart of the race. With more than 40 friends and family in attendance, the second year driver was focused on delivering a big finish.

"This week was like a dream come true racing in my home country and in front of my friends and family," Matos reported. "There was a lot of tension and pressure but we kept everything together and brought the car home. It was extremely important to finish this race and to get my best finish in Brazil was very rewarding."

Encouraged by such strong start to the 2010, Matos is now looking forward to the next round in St Petersburg, Florida. "We proved that we have a lot of potential to improve this car," he said. "Moving up in pit lane will be very important, especially on the street courses. We just need to keep working hard and finding new ways to improve the performance of the car. We're definitely heading in the right direction and will be ready for St. Pete."

-source: de ferran motorsports

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