Sierra Sierra Atlantic Team To Compete With Raphael Matos in 2006 Sierra Sierra Enterprises announced today the selection of aspiring open-wheel driver Raphael Matos to drive for the team in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by...
Sierra Sierra Atlantic Team To Compete With Raphael Matos in 2006
Sierra Sierra Enterprises announced today the selection of aspiring open-wheel driver Raphael Matos to drive for the team in the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. Matos joins Sierra Sierra fresh from his championship-winning season in the 2005 Star Mazda Championship. The 24-year-old driver from Belo Horizonte, Brazil eagerly awaits the opportunity to compete for the Atlantic open-wheel series title.
Matos was chosen from a field of accomplished drivers including Hoover Orsi, a talented competitor and 2001 Atlantic series Champion whose seat time in Sierra Sierra pre-season test sessions positions him well for a Champ Car test in early 2006.
"Lap times are critical and our driver candidates tested very fast last week," said Sierra Sierra team manager Richard Raeder. "Beyond the stopwatch, Sierra Sierra continues to bring on drivers who stand to gain the most from a competitive opportunity in Atlantics for the advancement of both their driving skills and careers. We greatly appreciate the fine group of drivers who forwarded resumes and showed a desire to join our team."
"I am glad to be part of Sierra Sierra," said Matos. "It was great to sit down in the car last week and complete some very fast testing. (Sierra Sierra Driver Development Coach) Dave (Empringham), (team Race Engineer) Gerald (Tyler) and Richard have an incredible depth of knowledge in this sport and they work together like a finely-tuned machine. I believe this is the best team with the best program in the Atlantic championship and we have what it takes to lead in this year's series."
Matos dominated the 2005 Star Mazda Championship, beginning the season with four consecutive race wins on his way to capturing the series title. A year earlier, he finished seventh in the 10-race 2004 Mazda Pro Series. Matos was the 2003 Formula Dodge National Champion and the Formula Dodge Midwestern Series runner-up in 2002. He emerged as the Chevrolet Formula Junior Champion in his native Brazil in 2001. His fast-rising career was launched in karting from 1993 to 2000.
According to Empringham, the 1993 and '94 Atlantic series champion who helped guide Ryan Dalziel to series runner-up finishes with Sierra Sierra in both 2003 and '04, Matos is a special talent. "We have found a diamond in the rough," said Empringham. "Raphael is a natural-born racer with raw speed, intense focus, the ability to provide accurate feedback, a hunger to win and a great personality. He is unquestionably championship material and I believe we could not have found a better and more deserving driver to represent Sierra Sierra in our quest for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship."