Rocketsports Racing Drivers Take Charge in Mid-Ohio from Front to Back
EAST LANSING, Michigan (June 1, 2009) - Rocketsports Racing's drivers Tomy Drissi and Daniel Ramoutarsingh really took charge this weekend at Mid-Ohio. Another podium for Drissi puts him in the 2009 Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series Championship Point Standings lead, while rookie Ramoutarsingh earns his best finish of the season, grabs honors of being the top rookie and sits in the top three overall.
After a full day of testing on Friday, the Rocketsports Racing team got to work at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on Saturday preparing for Sunday's race. Both drivers were running in the top four during the morning practice session. For Drissi, this was his third time on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio course; however, it was Ramoutarsingh's first. "I was told that Mid-Ohio was going to be a technical track, but I didn't think it would be as technical as it was", said the rookie. "The track was a lot more of a challenge then I expected, but I am very grateful to the track because it treated me well."
During qualifying on Saturday afternoon, Drissi found it to be a very short session. "We only got about three laps in qualifying," the Hollywood native said. "We lost a power steering belt, which also runs the water pump. I was going down the back straight and I then all of a sudden I couldn't make the turn because I had no power steering. The #5 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Jaguar XKR barely made it back to the pits, but luckily we didn't hurt the car. We found that a small rock had gotten in between the belt and threw it off - one of those weird things. That was it for us in qualifying, we could have gone faster but we were lucky we put down three quick ones while we had the opportunity."
Drissi posted a 1:23.879 (96.911 mph) and started third on the grid. Ramoutarsingh made solid progress throughout the weekend which resulted in posting a time of 1:25.527 (95.043 mph) - a top-five qualifying result.
"I am so pleased that we were able to get up to speed during our first day of testing," Ramoutarsingh said. "We were able to get a lot accomplished before qualifying and as a result, I qualified fifth. I was just behind Amy Ruman; we were only about two tenths of a second off of each other. After qualifying, I went into the pits and we made a change to the #8 Trinrico Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR with the intention to get around her at the start of the race and then go from there for the other four positions."
The Rocketsports Racing duo had strong cars for the race and finished in the top four. Drissi earned another second place with the help of a quick race car. His fastest lap was clocked with a time of 1:23.631 (97.198 mph), a time better than the existing track record. He had a clean race, and just missed his first victory in 2009 by 0.390 seconds.
"In the race, we started really good and were very fast," said Drissi. "We found that we were better in the turns and in braking because we were catching the leaders at those points, but it wasn't enough because they would pull ahead on the straightaways. It was just hard to get around them. I got by Jorge Diaz Jr. (started 2nd) on Lap 10 and then I went after Tony Ave (pole sitter). We were faster in overall lap times, but on the straightaways he would pull away. During this time, I got slowed up in some areas and on Lap 21 Diaz got around me. He went after Ave, then Ave fell out and I went after Diaz for the lead. With about 2-3 laps to go we caught him and I was running right on his bumper. We decided we didn't want to take too much of a chance, but I still pushed hard. Diaz ran a good race and deserved this win. I think if we had another lap or two to go, we would have caught him. The hardest part was to see first place right in reach and just not be able to do anything about it - not do it clean anyway. I really want that win. We had a meeting after the race, and I think we have got something for them in Portland, that is for sure. But I am very happy that we are leaving the weekend with the championship lead."
While Drissi was up front fighting, Ramoutarsingh was battling from the back after recovering from an early spin to finish fourth.
"It was a great race," added Ramoutarsingh. "I had my strategy and first it was to get around Amy, which I was able to do at the first turn. She went to close the door a little bit on me and we rubbed, but only very light contact and I was able to get around her. Then I was behind the fastest guys on the track. I was pushing really hard and on Lap 3 I spun. I kept the car off the grass but the entire field went past me. I was able to continue since nothing happened to the car but now I was sitting last. I made the charge of my life. It was just a fight, cutting them down one after the next. I posted my fastest lap of the weekend with three laps to go, and it was a fight until the end as I passed my final car on the last lap to get that fourth place.
I put myself out of the podium. I really wanted a podium and I was happy to see Tomy up there because he deserved it. But at the same time, I am more proud to come from last to finish fourth. When you run off that weakens the car and all strategy goes out the window. I made some high speed passes and some low speed passes, a whole new part of me had really came out during this race. It was a real confidence builder as a rookie. The car was incredible, Rocketsports Racing gave me a supercar. Even with the abuse I put on the car during the race, and having no more adjustments available or tire grip, I was still able to put down my fastest lap. (1:25.087 / 95.535 mph)"
Drissi also commented on his teammate's race. "I am so happy for Daniel, he did an incredible job. During the testing day, Paul Gentilozzi drove all the way from Lansing, Michigan for the day and spent a lot of time with the team and Daniel. I thought it was really important that the boss showed up because it put a fire under all our butts, and I really think it helped Daniel. I think Daniel got to his next plateau. We are looking forward to going to Portland and try to win that one."
In the midst of all the excitement of the Trans-Am return to Mid-Ohio, there was also the return of a Trans-Am Legend. Rocketsports Racing owner Paul Gentilozzi, five-time Trans-Am Champion and three-time Mid-Ohio race winner, was on hand this weekend to offer his support to the team and its drivers.
"We were so fortunate to have Paul Gentilozzi here this weekend," said Ramoutarsingh. "Paul really helped me out in so many ways and I can't even begin to express just how grateful I am for that. Just his presence alone, the fact that the boss was there, meant a lot. His success and knowledge makes him a great teacher and motivator."
As a result from this weekend's success, Drissi and Ramoutarsingh find themselves first and third, respectively, in the 2009 Trans-Am Drivers' Championship Point Standings. With earning three points for starting third, and 27 points for finishing second, Drissi now has a total of 106 points. He holds the lead by eight markers over Tony Ave. Ramoutarsingh earned one point for starting fifth and 23 points for finishing fourth, giving him a total of 71 points.
Apart from Rocketsports Racing's own Jaguar Trans-Am success on track, the company is proud to see customers with Rocketsports Racing-built Jaguar XKR's also doing well this season. Jaguar earned its fourth-straight 2009 win and extended its Manufacturers' Championship lead 37 to 20 over Chevrolet.
The 2009 Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series will return to the track in two weeks at Portland International Raceway for Round Five - the Fluge Global Adventures Rose Cup Classic, June 14.