Rocketsports Racing and Tomy Drissi Victorious in Portland
EAST LANSING, Michigan (June 15, 2009) - After the first four rounds in the 2009 Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series resulting in close, but not close enough - Rocketsports Racing and Tomy Drissi get it done in Portland. However, Drissi's good fortunes did not mirror those of Daniel Ramoutarsingh, who was fast, but couldn't make it last.
Just before qualifying on Saturday, Drissi turned a practice time of 1:10.696 (100.164 mph). That time was nearly 2.5 seconds faster than the current Trans-Am qualifying record at PIR. Klaus Graf was the current record holder with a time of 1:13.189 (96.752 mph), which he set in 2005 driving for Rocketsports Racing in a Jaguar XKR. After such a strong showing, Drissi was poised to win his second-career PIR pole. He did just that, posting a record-setting pole-winning time of 1:11.178 (99.485 mph).
"You never know what can happen during qualifying, so it is important to go out as fast as you can and get it done. I was fortunate to have set such a quick time in the #5 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs Jaguar XKR just five laps into the 20-minute qualifying session. I knew we posted a time that locked us into P1, but I still wasn't sure what these guys had and there was 10 minutes left in the session. So I went for one more flier. I was going down the back straight at 170 mph and I saw (Greg) Pickett off in the weeds. At that moment, I thought wow Pickett is off. By the time I had that thought I was off where he was. There was some oil on the track as someone lost a motor. I quickly got the car restarted and back to pit lane. When I got back there, I realized we had run a low 1:11 and that it was maybe a half a second faster than Pickett. So we waited to see what happened. Then we saw the checkered flag com e out - and we were P1."
After finishing fifth on the timing charts during both morning practice sessions on Friday and Saturday, Ramoutarsingh was aiming for a top-five qualifying spot. However his qualifying run was short, but still sweet enough as he recorded a time of 1:15.130 (94.252 mph) placing him seventh on the starting grid.
"We had issues from the start with the motors," said Ramoutarsingh. "The motor that was in the #8 Trinrico Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR was the one that we wanted to run this weekend, as it was set up specifically for this type of track. However, we had a component failure that caused us to change our plans for the race. I didn't get to have a good run in qualifying because of that, but I was able to do a time of 1:15 in the few laps that I did run. Because of that, we ended up qualifying seventh. But we should have been fourth or fifth."
The race was a clean one, not a single caution period. Drissi got a great start and held the lead heading into Turn One and would pace the field for the first 16 laps before Greg Pickett (who started second) made a pass on him in Turn One. Drissi reclaimed the lead on Lap 29 and took the checkered flag on Lap 46 beating Todd Harris by a margin of 47.996 seconds to earn his first victory in Portland, second Trans-Am career win. During this time, Drissi recorded his fastest race lap at 1:12.115 (98.193 mph), a time better than the existing track race record.
"I had a very good start," Drissi said. "Pickett and I were so close all weekend. It was just amazing how in some places he was quicker and, at others, I was quicker. He raced me really clean. When he got around me, I wasn't too concerned because I knew we had very equal cars. I was pacing myself planning to make a good run on him towards the end. Then I noticed a little puff of smoke from the back of Pickett's car and wondered if he had a problem. On Lap 28, I was able to get a good run on him coming out of the last corner heading down the front straight. On Lap 29, I passed him in Turn One to reclaim the lead. It is such a shame for Greg, I think there would have been a real good race the last six or seven laps if he could have kept fighting.
I am just so happy to finally get that first win of the season; it feels as if it has been a long time coming because we have all been working very hard. Thank you to Rocketsports Racing for giving me a great race car and engine and for all the support from my teammate Daniel. It is great to put the #5 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs sponsored Jaguar XKR in victory lane, just before 20th Century Fox releases the movie in theaters on July 1."
The race was dejà vu for Ramoutarsingh after a disappointing qualifying session. After starting seventh on the grid, the rookie made an impressive charge during the first two laps but would not make it much longer in the race due to a mechanical failure.
"With everything that had been going wrong leading up to the race, I was determined to go out there strong," Ramoutarsingh said. "In two laps, I was up to where I should have been - in the top five. The leaders were in sight and were within my lap time, so we had a race. Then going up the front straight, I started hearing a strange noise and the motor began to die. I made the call on the radio to the team and we tried to do everything we could, but it just died and I couldn't get it restarted. When I got out of the car, which was parked behind a wall on track, I was amongst all the fans and they were so supportive of me and my efforts. It was a nice feeling, despite not getting to finish the race.
We would have done well; for sure we could have had a podium. Johnny Miller (former Rocketsports Racing Trans-Am race winner) assisted me greatly, and as always, so did my team and Tomy (Drissi). Together our combined efforts honestly made me believe that I had the best car in the field. I was starting to really push with the confidence that I had in the #8 Trinrico Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR. We are getting so much faster, we are doing so much better. It is a shame; we had some really unfortunate events happen and hurt us this weekend. But at the end of the day, we did everything the best we could and we are really growing. Our time is coming; I am really looking forward to it. For now, I couldn't be happier for Tomy, he really deserved this win and such a solid race weekend."
With a pole and victory this weekend, Drissi tallied up 37 points to further his lead in the 2009 Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series Drivers' Championship Point Standings by 18 over Tony Ave. Ramoutarsingh's rough weekend took a slight toll on where he stands, but still rounds out the top five with a total of 71 points. Jaguar continues to lead the Manufacturers' Championship by 22 points over Chevrolet after earning their fifth straight victory in 2009.