ROCKETSPORTS RACING TRANS-AM RACE REPORT: WATKINS GLEN
Rocketsports Racing Finishes 2, 3 at The Glen; Drissi Clinches 2009 Trans-Am Championship Title
EAST LANSING, Michigan (July 13, 2009) - Rocketsports Racing duo Tomy Drissi and Daniel Ramoutarsingh finish second and third, respectively, in Round Six of the 2009 Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series Sunday at Watkins Glen. After a Series' announcement that Round Seven of Eight in the 2009 season, scheduled to be run at Bluegrass Motorsports Park, has been canceled, Drissi's second-place finish was enough for him to clinch the 2009 Drivers' Championship Title.
For many out side of the racing industry Sunday is a day of rest and relaxation. But it was a different story for all the Trans-Am competitors as they participated in two major events; qualifying and the race. The morning was a little shaky for the Rocketsports Racing team, as both drivers ran into issues that would affect their starting line-up positions.
"If you were to tell me this is how things would end after qualifying, I would have been so surprised. Qualifying was just a disaster for us. We definitely had a fast car and were going for the pole, but an oil leak caused problems. There was a bunch of oil inside the cockpit and all over the pedals. I did about four qualifying laps and then I came back in and the team tried to fix the problem. I went back out there, but the issue was still a concern. We were very lucky to pull off the time that we did, and score a point during qualifying. After that session, it was like a three-ring circus under the Rocketsports tent as they worked to fix the car for the race. But what a true testament to how good and what hard workers this Rocketsports Racing team is, as everything was fine when we rolled out to the grid. I started with a brand new car, brand new engine - I had a great car, a winning car."
Drissi qualified fifth with a time of 1:50.292 (110.978 mph) and Ramoutarsingh not far behind in the seventh spot after recording a time of 1:51.263 (110.009 mph).
"Going into this race weekend, we knew it was going to be important for me to get as much track time as possible before Sunday," said the rookie driver of the #8 Trinrico Steel & Wire Products Jaguar XKR, Ramoutarsingh. "I was a little concerned when I first got here and drove around the track. I thought, 'Wow this is the most daunting track I'd ever been to'. We didn't start off on the right foot Friday, as we had some setbacks that did not give me much seat time. Saturday allowed us to prepare and I was feeling pretty good. Qualifying was difficult. The track was very dirty, but I still was able to run a good time to qualify seventh overall. It was an incredibly close qualifying session in terms of lap time, all the cars ahead of me were only a couple of hundredths of seconds apart. I knew it was going to be a fight in the race."
After starting fifth, Drissi moved into the top three on the first lap. He and eventual race winner Jim Goughary Jr. battled most of the race, running nose to tail for the first nine laps until Drissi passed him for second. On Lap 12, Drissi would take over the lead when Tony Ave's engine expired. He maintained the lead for seven laps before getting passed back by Goughary and crossed the finish line on Lap 27 in second, 4.453 seconds behind the leader. His fastest lap during the race was recorded at 1:51.295 (109.978 mph).
"There was a close call right after the green flag dropped for the #8 Avatar Jaguar XKR. Another guy dive-bombed me, and if I wouldn't have seen him at the last minute, then we would have been out of the race on the first corner. I opened up and let the guy go by me, and then I got back my position by going underneath him. Then we took off in the race. It was Tony Ave, Jim Goughary and then me. Ave started to get a real good lead, while Jim and I fought for second place. I felt that I was a second-plus faster than Jim a lap, but it was just really hard to pass him. I was trying to be more conservative this weekend; I didn't want to take a chance of putting myself out of the race and the championship lead. Ave went out of the race and I passed Jim and we took over the lead of the race - easily. I then started to feel that something was off with the car, so I started eased up on it somewhat. Then Goughary passed me back and took the win. That strong Rocketsports Jaguar held together and we finished in second. Jim raced a really good race and I want to congratulate him on his win; he is such a great competitor."
Taking the checkered flag behind Drissi was his teammate, Ramoutarsingh. Drissi added, "Daniel finishing third on the podium was just the icing on the cake, to have him up there with me and to be able to share his first podium together."
Ramoutarsingh really had to work hard to earn his first career Trans-Am podium. Starting seventh, he was ingrained in a race-long battle with fellow rookie and fourth-place finisher Amy Ruman. They swapped positions several times while working their way through the field to the top three, but Ramoutarsingh got by Ruman for good on lap 17. He posted his fastest race lap time of 1:52.291 (109.002 mph).
"What a race it was, we had an incident on Lap 1 in Turn 2, I got bumped from behind and it almost turned me around. I lost a spot, but I was able to get it back and then I started to work my way to the front. For the majority of the race, Amy Ruman and I were dog fighting. Amy and I were swapping places throughout the entire track. In every corner I can think of, we traded places as we fought our way through the field. It was good clean racing, she is an awesome driver. Despite a very worn race car at the end, it stayed strong and I was able to put a comfortable space between us.
I am just so happy to finally get a podium. We have been working very hard and it feels so good. A big thank you goes out to my team and sponsor Trinrico Steel & Wire Products for making this possible. It was a special day having my first podium on the same day that Tomy Drissi wins the Championship. It is just an honor to be a rookie and to be on the podium with such a league of great drivers."
Tallying up 29 points this weekend gives Drissi a total of 172 Drivers' Championship points, 39 points over second place Tony Ave and enough to crown him Champion with only one race to go in the 2009 season. This season, the Hollywood native has one win, four podiums, and six top-five finishes.
"The Avatar car not only finished second, but we are also the 2009 Trans-Am Champions" Drissi added. "And to be on 'The List' is AMAZING! I have to thank Paul Gentilozzi and the Rocketsports Racing team. I am a live wire; I am not exactly the calmest guy in the world. The team just calmed me down; they gave me a car and the confidence/trust I needed. This wouldn't have been possible without the support of everyone at the studios. I also want to thank Muscle Milk, SCCA, Trans-Am; all the people who helped put this series back together. The organization, the people who worked at Watkins Glen, the fans all made this a wonderful weekend."
Ramoutarsingh moves up two spots in the Championship standings after earning 25 points this weekend. The Trinidad currently sits third with 96 points, 37 points behind second place Ave. He is also the highest rookie in the standings.
"Because of my DNF at Portland, I really thought that it was going to be hard for us to make up the points that we lost. But we came back stronger than ever this weekend and got a podium. With one more race to go, I think we have a good shot at finishing in the top three overall. We will see what happens at Road America."
Jaguar also clinched the Manufacturers' Championship with 54 points to Chevrolet's 35. Ford is third, with 10. Jaguar won the first five races this season, but their streak was broken this weekend with Goughary's win in a Chevrolet Corvette.
The series will conclude its 2009 Championship at the venue that has held the most Trans-Am races - Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin - September 18-20. For more information, please visit www.rocketsportsracing.com and www.sccatrans-am.com.