Phoenix: Rand Racing preview

double deal Rand Racing will enter two cars in the SRPII class of the Rolex Sports Car Series, starting with the April 20 race on the 1.51-mile Phoenix International Raceway road course. Bill Rand of Plano, Tex., and Niclas Jönsson of Aliso ...

double deal

Rand Racing will enter two cars in the SRPII class of the Rolex Sports Car Series, starting with the April 20 race on the 1.51-mile Phoenix International Raceway road course. Bill Rand of Plano, Tex., and Niclas Jönsson of Aliso Viejo, Calif., will drive the new No. 7 Nissan Lola. Marino Franchitti of Scotland will join them for the Phoenix race.

The rookie team has won four straight races with its No. 8 Lola, which will be driven by Terry Borcheller of Phoenix and German Ralf Kelleners this weekend. Borcheller's usual co-driver, Anthony Lazzaro of Acworth, Ga., is competing in an Indy Racing League event.

getting ready

Jönsson and Franchitti spent last week with the Risi Competizione crew who prepare the Rand cars. "I think it's very important to get to know the crew because the better you know each other, the better results you're going to have," Jönsson explained. "You don't have to talk all the time - body language tells a lot, too, if you know each other well enough.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be involved with this team," he added. "Bill Rand is a multi-talented guy, in business and behind the wheel. He won the 24 Hours of Daytona with Terry, Ralf and Anthony, and you have to have such talent to do that. Bill is also a great guy to hang out with. I think we'll have a lot of fun and a lot of success together."

Franchitti changed his fitness routine to prepare for his first race in a prototype car. "There's no power steering on the car and the corner speeds should be quicker, so it should be more physically difficult," he noted. "I've added more weight training and I've been doing a lot of exercises my brother [CART star Dario Franchitti] taught me for my neck.

"It's a totally new car to learn, a new discipline for me, so it's going to be very difficult. The learning curve is very steep. But it's a great opportunity that Bill Rand and Rand Racing have given to me, so I just want to do the best job I can for them."

first impressions

Jönsson and Franchitti tested the new No. 7 Rand Racing Lola at Texas World Speedway on April 12. Jönsson has raced the bigger prototype cars, but it was Franchitti's first experience in a high-horsepower open-cockpit car.

"It's a fun car to drive," Jönsson said. "It's very smooth and it handles well. It's less power than the big cars, almost like a Formula Three car, so you have be very precise to try to use the power as much as possible. If you make small mistakes with a big-horsepower car, you can sometimes correct with the power. In this case, you have to be very precise and more careful. You have to be a bit more patient."

Franchitti was enthused about his test. "I was smiling a lot," he noted. "I went straight from a Formula Ford into a GT car into this, so I've never really driven a car with wings before. I don't think I'm using all the grip yet, but it's a lot of fun. I think it's easy to get within a second of a good [lap] time, but after that is the really difficult part. My aim is to make a progression each time I drive the car, to be able to use the full capability of the car."

local leader

Borcheller, who leads the SRPII driver standings, says racing at his home track will enable him to keep his usual routine, hopefully contributing to a strong performance.

"When I'm on the road, I try to get into my home routine as quickly as possible, whether it's my sleep pattern, training or whatever," he said. "At home, I don't have to go look for all that stuff. It's a lot less stress, I'm not searching for things. I'm in my own element."

-rr/sp-

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ralf Kelleners , Dario Franchitti , Anthony Lazzaro , Terry Borcheller , Bill Rand , Aliso Viejo
Teams Risi Competizione