LONE STAR STATE After a tumultuous race experience at the Indianapolis 500, the de Ferran Dragon Racing team will be looking to bounce back in the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. With the short week, they have been forced to shrink from a...
LONE STAR STATE
After a tumultuous race experience at the Indianapolis 500, the de Ferran Dragon Racing team will be looking to bounce back in the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway. With the short week, they have been forced to shrink from a two-car entry to a one-car team after suffering significant damage to both cars during the Indy 500. Raphael Matos will pilot the #2 HP de Ferran car and will be seeking to regain the early season results that put him in the top 10 in the season point standings. He averaged 25.3 points over the first three races of the IZOD IndyCar season, but just 13.3 in the following three. Matos has raced once at Texas Motor Speedway, starting 15th and finishing 12th during his rookie campaign a year ago.
If history does repeat itself, Matos could be poised to record a strong finish in Texas. Last year, Matos rebounded nicely from a devastating finish at the Indianapolis 500 by posting a season-best sixth place finish at the Milwaukee Mile. Matos suffered a bruised right knee and a mild concussion in the accident with Vitor Meira on lap 173 of the 2009 Indianapolis 500. On Sunday, he sustained neck pain, a bruised left knee and a sore left thumb in the single car crash on the 73rd lap. He underwent an Impact Test Tuesday in Miami and was cleared with no signs of concussion.
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Following the bruising crash he suffered in Indianapolis Sunday, Matos has altered his race preparation routine in advance of Texas. Instead of his multiple hour workouts and cycling routines, he has toned down the training sessions to just stretching and light bike rides during the shortened week. "My body is still recovering from the crash so I don't want to push myself too hard," Matos said.
Being able to sort through the wreckage of two damaged racecars and rebuild even one of them during an "off" week would be a challenge, but the de Ferran Dragon team showed their talent and determination by reconstructing Raphael Matos' car in less than three days in order to compete in Texas. The crew literally took apart the two cars and created separate piles of the parts that worked and those that were broken, allowing them to quickly order and secure replacements for the considerable broken pile. The 13- person crew turned in 468 man-hours in the 2-plus days to get the car on the truck for the ride to Texas. The team worked 12 hours Monday (7 a.m.-7 p.m.), 17 hours Tuesday (7 a.m.-12 a.m.) and seven hours Wednesday (7 a.m.- 2 p.m.) before loading the car on the truck for a 2:30 p.m. departure.
COMEBACK ON HOLD
Davey Hamilton's highly anticipated return to Texas will be put on hold, as damage to both de Ferran Dragon racecars in the Indianapolis 500 will limit the team to just one car in the Firestone 550 this weekend. Hamilton's car was damaged in a turn two crash on the first lap in Indianapolis, while teammate Raphael Matos lost control of the #2 car on the 73rd lap Sunday. "It's disappointing, but I knew (Sunday) that the damage to both cars would make it an impossible turnaround," Hamilton said. "I was really looking forward to racing in Texas again, but we never expected to be in this position. We'll just have try it again next year." Hamilton may not be racing in Texas, but he will be with the team, providing counsel to Matos.
NEW TEAMMATES, OLD FRIENDS
Nearly 20 years separate Raphael Matos and new teammate Davey Hamilton, but the way they have been working together during the first week in Indianapolis you would never suspect that they first started getting to know each other in Sao Paulo during the first week of the season. "Honestly, it's like they have known each other for 20 years," Gil de Ferran said. "They understand each other very well and they are quite happy to collaborate. They both know it is good for them individually and good for the team."
GIL'S INDY 500 RECAP
"On balance, we had a good month of May in Indianapolis. The guys did a really good job in a short period of time, as we grew into a two car team. The preparation that went on and all of the work everyone did to make us one of fastest cars is to be commended. Even though the race didn't go the way we hoped, we put on a good show in qualifying and certainly in the early stages of the race, that is something we should be proud of. Onwards and upwards!"
-source: de ferran dragon racing