Edmonton: de Ferran Dragon Racing preview

BACK IN EDMONTON After posting two wins in his first three races in Edmonton, it's no wonder City Centre Raceway is one of Raphael Matos' favorite tracks. Matos returns for the fifth time and second with de Ferran Dragon Racing when the ...


After posting two wins in his first three races in Edmonton, it's no wonder City Centre Raceway is one of Raphael Matos' favorite tracks. Matos returns for the fifth time and second with de Ferran Dragon Racing when the IZOD IndyCar Series goes green for the Honda Indy Edmonton this weekend. Matos made his debut on the track in 2006 as a rookie in the Atlantic Series. He returned the following season and posted back-to-back wins on July 21 and 22 in the Atlantic Grand Prix of Edmonton, his fifth and sixth wins of the season en route to the Atlantic championship. Last year, as an IndyCar rookie, Matos qualified eighth, but finished 18th after an opening lap incident derailed his chances of adding more Edmonton hardware to his trophy case.


It will show up as 18th in the official standings, but the de Ferran Dragon team had a much better car than the back of the pack finish it received in Edmonton last year. The fact that it turned out one of the three fastest racecars on the track race day makes the hard luck hit it took from behind at the start of the race that much more unfortunate. After starting eighth Matos found himself dead last before completing the first turn when Mike Conway clipped the right rear end of the #2 car and sent it spinning and in need of a new right rear suspension. It was one of the few incidents in a race that saw only one full course yellow on the final lap of the race. After returning to the race 10 laps down, Matos unveiled a performance that was leaderboard worthy. Matos recorded the fourth fastest lap time of the race and third fastest on black tires. His 62.71 trailed only Conway's 62.43, Will Power's 62.66 and Helio Castroneves' 62.70. Conway's lap came on red tires. Matos also made more passes than any driver in the race.


"Edmonton is a very fast track and very wide. The drivers who are better prepared physically will have an advantage because it is very demanding. It's a place I've had success in the past so it always brings back great memories. Hopefully we will have good communication all weekend so that we continue to improve our baseline."


De Ferran Dragon Racing has an engineering team loaded, relatively speaking, with Canadians. Eric Zeto, the race engineer, and Scott Raymond, the team's performance engineer, makeup two thirds of the full time engineering team and both are from Canada. Zeto is from Toronto and Raymond is from Ottawa. "Although Eric and Scott are both Canadians, they couldn't be more different," managing partner and team president Gil de Ferran said. "They are both important parts of our engineering team. Eric is our lead race engineer, very experienced and wise. Scott is our performance engineer, leading the charge on mathematical simulations and data analysis."


"It has certainly been a honor to serve as part of the ICONIC committee. There are many factors that play a part in the success of a racing series, some technical, some not. But in my mind, being a part of the group that determined what the cars and engines in IndyCar are going to look like for the foreseeable future has been a very exciting. Obviously it was a task that carried a great deal of responsibility, I was always very conscious of that and aware of the importance of many of the decisions the committee was making."


"What I hope is that the new generation of cars help enhance traditional brand values of IndyCar racing of extreme speed, innovation and tough and tight competition. I also hope this new generation of cars becomes a factor to help the sport grow and gain more fans. I am very excited about the series and I do believe it is going into a great phase. The grids are full, IZOD is proving to be a great title sponsor, we just need to continue to deliver great races, hopefully with car number 2 closer to the front!"


With another top 10 finish in his sights, Matos had his day spoiled when a late race collision left him in the tire barrier and in 21st place at the IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto. Matos was running 10th and closing in on ninth when he was struck from behind by Alex Tagliani in turn five sending the #2 car into the tire barrier with suspension damage. Matos started 11th and ran in the top 12 throughout the race. He gained a position on each of his two pit stops and worked his way into the top 10 with 30 laps remaining. He was inching closer to ninth when he was spun into the tires on lap 65.


Raphael Matos received some quality coaching in Toronto from his long time friend and former open wheel champion David Empringham. The two used to work together in the Atlantic Series and reunited in Toronto. "It was good to get back together with Dave," Matos said. "He is the kind of guy who pushes me very hard and he sees the specific areas I am lacking. He was a big help to me and to the engineers."


If there was one valuable lesson that Empringham got across to Matos it was to zeroing in on one issue at a time. "He made me focus on one problem at a time. You cannot fix all the problems in the car at once. You have to fix the main issue and go from there. That really helped me focus on what was working and better communicate what I was feeling with the engineers."

-source: de ferran dragon racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Alex Tagliani , Scott Ray , David Empringham , Will Power
Teams Dragon Racing