Pruett Puts New Jaguar AJ-V8 Engine on the Pole in Trans-Am
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- With only two timed laps in his qualifying session, Rocketsports Racing driver Scott Pruett collected the pole position for tomorrow's Puerto Rico Grand Prix, the season finale and Round 11 of the Motorock Trans-Am Tour for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup. Pruett, who clinched his third Trans-Am championship with his win in the Motorock Miami 100, claimed his ninth pole this season with a time of 1:05:471 on the 1.6 mile, 10-turn Isla Grande airport circuit.
This marks the first pole position for the new four-valve, overhead-cam, fuel-injected Jaguar AJ-V8 engine in its debut appearance in race trim. The last time a Jaguar engine raced in Trans-Am competition was in 1981.
Pruett, driver of the No. 7 Motorock/Jaguar R Performance XKR, notched his 29th career Trans-Am pole, moving into second place on the all-time fastest qualifier list ahead of team owner and three-time Trans-Am champion Paul Gentilozzi. With 22 wins, including eight victories in 10 starts this season, Pruett ranks fourth on the all-time race wins chart.
"It's been a challenging weekend for us," said Pruett, who won the Trans-Am Tour title in 1987 and 1994. "We had a throttle linkage problem and it was sticking. The throttle stuck in Turn 9. I was glad to have the forethought to get my foot under the pedal to get it stopped. But the engine was just fine."
"Yesterday, we had a hairline crack in the oil pan that was hand fabricated. So we changed the engine, and we couldn't get out in the second practice session," explained Pruett. "But everyone dug deep and we put the Jaguar XKR on the pole.
"I had only two flyer laps and we did better than I expected," continued Pruett. "My hat's off to the Rocketsports guys and Jaguar. This is very special for me to be able to give the Jaguar AJ-V8 its first pole, especially during its first outing, and to do it here in Puerto Rico."
Rocketsports stablemate Tomy Drissi, driving the No. 5 "Stuck on You, the Movie" Jaguar XKR, will start ninth on the grid.
Local hotshoe Wally Castro, driving the No. 3 Puerto Rico Lottery Jaguar XKR, is making his second start in Trans-Am competition and qualified sixth.
"The track is in beautiful shape now," said Castro, who finished 11th in his previous start in 1996 in St. Petersburg after running as high as fifth. "We've made changes and we're moving in the right direction. We'll make some shock adjustments before tomorrow's warm-up session.
"The tires worked well for me," Castro continued. "I'm learning more about them each time out. I expect to be a top-five contender for the whole race tomorrow."
The Puerto Rico Grand Prix will air live on SPEED Channel on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. EST.