Raphael Matos Excited About Unknowns at Edmonton EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada, July 19, 2006 -- As a rookie in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda, Raphael Matos has faced a number of unknowns this season. As...
Raphael Matos Excited About Unknowns at Edmonton
EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada, July 19, 2006 -- As a rookie in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda, Raphael Matos has faced a number of unknowns this season. As he works to get experience in a new car, with a new team and on several new tracks, the native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, who now lives in Miami, will face his greatest question mark of the season this weekend when he travels to Edmonton, Alberta. Matos and the No. 6 ProWorks/Sierra Sierra Enterprises team enter Sunday's West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick Atlantic with little working knowledge of the JAGflo Speedway at City Centre Airport. With 13 turns laid out in just 1.96-miles, the temporary course is one of the tougher tracks that the 2005 Star Mazda Series Champion will have to learn. However, overcoming challenges has always been a hallmark of the young Brazilian's career and the unknowns of the track excite him.
"We are going to have to be really focused at Edmonton," said Rafa as he is best known in the paddock. "I have never been there. I've heard it is a quick track. It's similar to Portland and maybe to Cleveland and we were very quick at both. I know the layout but I haven't seen any in-car video or anything like that. So, I will try to see what I can when I get there. Based on what we know on the Sierra Sierra car and everything, we should be pretty strong. I am pretty confident on everything. My engineer, Gerald [Tyler], has been really working on the setup for Edmonton so I think we will be quick right out of box."
Matos is currently ranked eighth in the point standings, sixth in the rookie battle. However, the results to do not reflect the domination that the young Brazilian and the Sierra Sierra team have shown at times this year. Matos' name regularly lands in the top-three of each session while bad luck has played into the final standings. In seven races he has one pole position and a second place finish. He has led 27 laps and set the race's fastest lap once and has raced in the top-five at nearly every venue.
"I believe we will be strong the rest of the season," he continued. "There are a lot of street courses and that seems to suit my style right now. At San Jose and Montreal we will be strong. I know Montreal and I won there last year. We have been very quick all season. We had the second quickest lap of the race at Toronto towards the end of the race. The drive-thru penalty put me 20 seconds behind the field and we caught everyone to finish ninth. These cars are really hard to pass so I am happy with our performance at Toronto. Learning the tracks has been huge. But, we have been very quick and we are growing as a team as I get more experience. I am confident that we will win and, once we do, that we will be able to get more wins."
The West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick Atlantic can be seen, tape-delayed, on SPEED at 2 PM (ET), July 29. A re-airing of the race will take place on SPEED at 3 PM on August 2. Live Timing and Scoring and news from the Champ Car Atlantic Series can be found at www.ChampCarAtlantic.com.