Paul Gentilozzi Dominates Trans-Am Race at Trois-Rivières
TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Quebec (Aug. 1, 2004) -- Paul Gentilozzi dominated Sunday's Motorock Trans-Am Series race at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières in Quebec. Gentilozzi, driving the No. 3 Jaguar R Performance XKR, led 64 of 65 laps to win his fourth race season and the 28th of his career, moving him just one victory away from the Trans-Am win record held by the legendary Mark Donohue
Gentilozzi led a sweep of the podium by Rocketsports Jaguars, with Tomy Drissi (No. 5 TAXI -- The Movie Jaguar XKR) and Tommy Kendall (No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR) finishing second and third, respectively. Randy Ruhlman (No. 49 Preformend Line Products Chevrolet Corvette) and Bob Ruman (No. 23 McNichols/Cenweld Chevrolet Corvette) completed the top five.
The Rocketsports sweep was the first for the Lansing, Mich.-based team since 1991, when Darin Brassfield led Irv Hoerr and Gentilozzi to the checkered flag at Infineon Raceway.
Gentilozzi took the lead from Kendall, who started on the pole, when Kendall overshot turn six on lap two. Gentilozzi wasn't seriously challenged from there.
"I had great luck with circumstances today," said the three-time champion. "I had decided today to be the rabbit. I had planned to go as hard as I could and then stop for tires. I really didn't think we could go the whole way and drive aggressively. When I saw Tommy (Kendall) lock the brakes up, I had to completely change me strategy. At half way, I knew I had a lot of car left and I just ran my pace. It was a great race."
Gentilozzi wasn't overly enthusiastic about the possibility of tying or even breaking Donohue's record.
"I'm not anxious at all to (break Donohue's record)," said Gentilozzi. "Mark Donohue was really special to Trans-Am and the world of Motorsports. I don't know what I'll do. If I get lucky enough to be in position, I don't know if I want to win 30. I know this sounds silly, but I think it would be disrespectful.
"I've done a lot more races (than Donohue)," added Gentilozzi, who has 194 starts to Donohue's 55. "(The record) is not something I want."
Drissi was pleased with his third podium this season. Drissi fought off Kendall late in the event to earn the runner-up finish.
"Paul (Gentilozzi) keeps telling me that racing is a mental thing," said Drissi. "TK started coming up, and I started worrying a little bit. Then, I thought about it and I continued to run my own race. My hat is off to Paul. I can't believe he had that much car at the end. "
Kendall, who started on the pole, said brake problems forced him to make the rare off early in the event. Kendall restarted last, and made up 11 positions to earn the podium, his second this year and the second podium for Jaguar's new production-based AJ-V8.
"It's great to get another podium, but when I think what could have been, it's a little disappointing," said Kendall, who set the race's fastest race lap (1:05.062 minutes, 84.160 miles per hour). "I kind of let the guys down today. We had a car that was capable of winning, but due to the rain yesterday, we weren't able to get the brakes bedded in. They grabbed going into that corner, and the tire doesn't like to get rolling again. So, I made the split-second decision to live another day. The car was just tremendous and it was a lot fun coming through the field."
Garrett Kletjian (No. 20 upscalelingerie.com Qvale Mangusta), who finished eighth overall and first in the GT-1 class, earned the VP Fuels Hard Charger Award for making up the most positions in the race. Gentilozzi won the BFGoodrich Tires Take Control Award for leading the most laps. Ron Fellows (No. 40 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette) won the Canadian Cup for his sixth-place finish, the best among Canadian drivers here.
The caution-free race ran a record time of one hour, 11 minutes and 55.432 seconds at an average speed of 82.475 miles per hour (132.730 kilometers per hour). Highlights of the race will run tape delayed on Spike TV's "Dangerous Curves" Sunday, Aug. 8 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT/PDT).
The next race for the Motorock Trans-Am Series is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 7 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
The Motorock Trans-Am Series features closed-fendered, production-based, V-8-powered sports cars, competing on permanent road courses, and temporary street and airport circuits throughout North America. The Trans-Am Series is America's oldest continuously running road racing series and celebrates its 39th year of competition in 2004.