CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrichÂ® Tires Cup prepares to race at Mosport International Raceway on May 18, this season's rookie class is certainly up to the task. Although Mosport's fast layout may seem intimidating,...
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- As the Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup prepares to race at Mosport International Raceway on May 18, this season's rookie class is certainly up to the task. Although Mosport's fast layout may seem intimidating, Jorge Diaz, Jr. and Bobby Sak are looking forward to racing at the Ontario road course.
Diaz, driver of the No. 8 Puerto Rico Grand Prix Jagaur XKR, sits first in the Rookie Championship, and fifth overall in drivers' points. Diaz recovered from a late-race spin to finished fifth in his first start at the Grand Prix of Long Beach April 13, and finished sixth in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla. in February.
"Long Beach definitely helped my confidence," said Diaz, 26. "What I noticed is by the end of the race, we were doing extremely well. We know we have some things to work on in terms of setup. We are extremely consistent, but aren't extremely fast.
"I had a little bit of work to do at the beginning of the race, getting used to the new Jaguar XKR body," added Diaz. "It creates a greater amount of downforce in the front, and that's something you have to work with and get used to. We also worked on our brakes, and that was something that I also had to adapt to. I think with this new body, and the work we've done, we're very confident this year."
Sak, driver of the No. 10 Revolution Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the first two races this season. He is four points behind Diaz in the rookie chase, and ranks seventh in the Drivers' Championship.
"I know we could have done better than we did at the first two races," said Sak, 24. "With that said, I'm only four points back from Jorge. We're going into some tracks I've raced at quite a bit. I think we're going have a better setup. We were kind of scratching our heads about the setups at St. Petersburg and Long Beach. We had a great street course setup last year. I really think now, going into Mosport, we're going to be pretty good. I think we've got horsepower than last year, and at Mosport that will show."
Both related that they have received a lot of good advice from the Series' many veterans.
"I've had a lot of help from Huffaker Motorsports and from Paul Gentilozzi," said Diaz, who prior to this year competed in three Trans-Am Series races. "Everyone wants to help me. Everyone is very private about what gearing they are running, and what they are doing, but they always want to know what I am doing, and try to guide me in the right direction. We've gotten a great deal of hints and tips from Gentilozzi and Huffaker. We feel very good from that end. We do feel we are at a bit of a disadvantage, because we are a one-car team and don't have a veteran driver. However, with Gentilozzi's and Huffaker's help, we always know we are one step ahead."
"Stu Hayner, my teammate, has been very helpful," said Sak, who cut his teeth in World Challenge, Pro Spec Racer and SCCA Club Racing. "Stu's awesome. He helps me with everything. I follow him every time we go on the track. He helps me with gearing, and I go on the track walk with him. Tomy Drissi has been a great help, too. He always has good advice for me. Most of the guys are good at talking to me about things. But I get so much help from Stu--and he really is a great teacher--that I don't have to look too many other places."
Sak said he has an advantage going into Mosport, where he has made two starts previously, with finishes of 17th in 2000 and 14th in last year's race.
"Everything happens a lot quicker in the Trans-Am Series. The cars accelerate a lot quicker than touring cars, where I was last year, they brake a lot better, and they have a lot more grip," said Sak, who made a total of four Trans-Am Series starts prior to this season.
"Just this year I've become comfortable with that. I drove Corvettes in the SPEED World Challenge GT Series a couple years ago, and that honestly helped me a lot to move forward from Spec Racer. The transition into the Corvette and running a few races last year has helped me a lot. I'm starting to get really comfortable in the car, and I'm really looking forward to getting to these tracks I've raced at before. I really think I'll do well, especially at Mosport. I've already run two Trans-Am Series races there. I qualified sixth there last year, but had to start at the back because we had to change an engine."
Diaz, on the other hand, has no experience at Mosport. However, the affable young driver from Puerto Rico said he doesn't see that as a disadvantage.
"I don't feel different going into Mosport than I did before as all of these are new tracks. I've never raced on any of them," said Diaz. "I look at that in a positive way. I'm always learning something new. I'm in my learning curve, and that's the best place to be.
"I feel great," added Diaz. "The events are extremely organized and run very smoothly. The Series has excellent drivers. I've built a great friendship with many of them, and it really is the experience of a lifetime."
Round 3 of this year's Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich® Tires Cup championship is scheduled for Sunday, May 18 at Mosport International Raceway. SPEED Channel will carry the race on a tape-delayed basis Sunday, May 25 at 2 p.m.
-scca pro racing/trans am-