San Jose: Raphael Matos preview

Raphael Matos Looks to San Jose to Put Frustration of Atlantic Season Right SAN JOSE, Calif., July 26, 2006 -- Raphael Matos had only driven two of the scheduled tracks prior starting his rookie season in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car ...

Raphael Matos Looks to San Jose to Put Frustration of Atlantic Season Right

SAN JOSE, Calif., July 26, 2006 -- Raphael Matos had only driven two of the scheduled tracks prior starting his rookie season in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda. Those tracks, Montreal and Road America, are the last two events of the year. However, his aggressive style and quick learning has masked the fact that the Belo Horizonte, Brazil native, now living in Miami, is still learning with each turn of each lap. This weekend in the Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose Presented by Taylor Woodrow, Matos is again being asked to learn a new track in the No. 6 ProWorks/Sierra Sierra Enterprises Mazda. Adding pressure is that San Jose is the headquarters of team supporter ProWorks.

Despite it all, Rafa, as he is best known, is eager to get to the temporary, 1.448-mile, 11-turn course that uses the streets and parking lots of the San Jose Convention Center as its base. The track echoes many of the same features that Houston's Reliant Stadium venue did earlier in the season. It was there that Matos won his first career pole position for Sierra Sierra and dominated the weekend before being taken out by a fellow rookie during the race. It is at San Jose that Matos is confident his Sierra Sierra team can turn the corner putting the No. 6 into victory lane for the first time in 2006.

"There will be a completely different approach for San Jose," said Matos. "It is a very bumpy track. We should have a good baseline from Houston which we were the quickest car at. We'll start the weekend and go from there. It is my first time running this track. I have been watching some video but it has changed. I know it is very bumpy, very low grip. Which is good. Houston was mid to low grip. So I think that is in our favor. I have seen the layout of the track and it is all 90 degree corners and our car is very good in those corners. This is a very important race because ProWorks is based in San Jose and we want them to be proud and excited at the end of the race. So, I am looking forward to getting to the track."

Matos has been quick throughout the season regularly running in the top three of contenders. However, bad luck and rookie mistakes- some of which were not his own doing- have shown-up to haunt the 2005 Star Mazda Series Champion. Last week in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Matos won his second career Atlantic Series pole position. He was within six laps of the checkered flag with a commanding lead when a minor mistake led to an impact with the wall. Now, Matos, who has one podium finish this year (a second at the Long Beach Grand Prix in April), must put that behind him and focus on winning again.

"It was our first time running after the Champ Cars and the track was a little different," said Matos of the accident. "A lot of rubber was on the track and lots of marbles. Margin for error was very small. I made one small mistake and hit the wall and damaged the front and rear suspension. We had a very good weekend until then. We learned a lot about the car. We had everything planned before the weekend and we were able to accomplish everything on the list. All you can do is move on and put it behind you. The good thing is San Jose is this weekend so it makes you move on. The whole team feels good. We had almost everything we have been working for at Edmonton but, now, we will move on to San Jose."

-www.RafaMatos.com.

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Series Atlantic