ROCKETSPORTS WINS SIXTH CHAMPIONSHIP WITH ROOKIE KLAUS GRAF AND HANDS JAGUAR FIFTH MANUFACTURER'S TITLE
MONTREAL, Quebec (August 27, 2005) After winning his fourth Trans -Am event of 2005, leading the charge for Jaguar's fifth manufacturer's title and earning the honor of Rookie-of-the-Year, Rocketsports Racing driver Klaus Graf was crowned champion of North America's longest running road racing series. Driving the factory backed No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR, the German native won the title by 21 points over Randy Ruhlman. Although this is Graf's first North American championship, it is the sixth title in eight years for the Michigan-based team.
The hard work and determination of the entire Rocketsports crew throughout the nine event, five-month long season resulted in five victories, seven poles, six fastest race laps and eleven podium finishes for the Rocketsports trio of Graf, Paul Gentilozzi and Tomy Drissi.
The 15-year veteran of auto racing signed on with the Rocketsports Racing organization days before the season kicked-off in Long Beach, California. In only his second race (Portland, OR), he sat on the pole and went to victory circle for the first time in his North American racing career. During the season, the "rookie" went on to win four more times including the season finally in Montreal. Showing his ability to adapt, Graf set fastest qualifying five times and fastest race lap four times, mostly on tracks he had never seen until he rolled the 630-horse powered Jaguar out for practice. Street, airport or natural terrain circuits, he proved he was a world class driver leading nearly 40% of all competition laps.
"It's like a dream come true," said the rookie champion. "This my first championship win in No rth America in it feels really good. Trans-Am has a great tradition and it feels good to be part of long list of great race car drivers who were able to win this championship. Thanks a lot to Jaguar and Rocketsports Racing for this opportunity. Especially thanks to Paul Gentilozzi and my crew chief Troy Cowgill as well as the whole crew."
As the 2005 champion, Graf joins road racing legend Dorsey Schroeder as the only two drivers to have won the overall championship and the rookie title in the same year. Schroeder accomplished the feat in 1989.
Rocketsports Racing's owner and four-time champion, Paul Gentilozzi had spoken with Graf for years before the opportunity to drive one of the Jaguars arose. Looking for another championship as a car owner, the Trans-Am series' all-time wins leader signed the road racing veteran and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I talked with him four or five years ago about coming and racing for us," said Gentilozzi. "I have always had a real high regards for his skills as a driver and he's brought a lot to the series; a lot of International notoriety. He is a deserving champion, he proved that many time over this season as his performance was top notch on and off the track. Congratulation to Klaus, his crew chief, Troy Cowgill and the whole Rocketsports team."