FAMILIAR TURF Mid Ohio is a very familiar track for Raphael Matos. The 28-year old Brazilian has raced there seven times and has claimed three victories in three different series - once in Formula Dodge, once in Star Mazda and once in Firestone...
Mid Ohio is a very familiar track for Raphael Matos. The 28-year old Brazilian has raced there seven times and has claimed three victories in three different series - once in Formula Dodge, once in Star Mazda and once in Firestone Indy Lights. He finished ninth in his IZOD IndyCar debut last year. Matos went wire to wire in the first of two Firestone Indy Lights races there in 2008. He captured the pole and led all 40 laps in securing his third win of the 2008 season. The second race was marred by rain and Matos, who started fourth, crashed late to finish 18th.
Last year, making his IndyCar debut in Mid Ohio, Matos turned in a solid performance on a hot and humid day to finish ninth in the Honda Indy 200. It was the first of four consecutive top 10 finishes and pushed him back into the lead in the Rookie of the Year race, a lead he would not relinquish. After a strong showing in the first half of the opening qualifying session (P4), the car unexpectedly struggled on red tires during the second half and finished 15th. But his race performance was as different as the weather from one day to the next. After a cool, rainy qualifying day Saturday, race day was 91 degrees and humid. Couple the conditions with a challenging course and the drivers shed a few pounds during the two-hour race. Despite the low starting position, Matos put together a strong opening stint and climbed as high as sixth. He remained in the top 10 for the rest of the race.
RAFA ON MID OHIO
"I really like Mid Ohio. It really suits my driving style. It has some hard breaking and some fast flowing corners and I like that and I've won there before. It's much closer to Watkins Glen than any other track and we had a good car at Watkins Glen. I am hoping we can get the same kind of performance in Ohio."
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
IZOD IndyCar drivers are going through their most physical stretch of the season with five consecutive road/street course races, including Edmonton, the most demanding of them all. Mid Ohio is another physical track that can add more demands when the weather gets hot and humid, like in 2009, Matos' rookie season. "I definitely learned more about what the track is like when the conditions change," Matos said of his rookie appearance. "I was also reminded how physical it is. It's much more physical in an IndyCar."
While the drivers endure this physical stretch in the schedule, they also must try to maintain their training routines while on the move. "For these kinds of races you have to maintain your strength, especially in your shoulders, neck and arms and you have to keep it up even you're traveling," Matos said. "I try to do as much of my routine as I can, but nothing beats driving the car. So the test last week really helped and I'll go to the gokart track too to keep it up."
The de Ferran Dragon Racing team has now tested twice at Mid Ohio in the last month. They were on track June 30 to better prepare for Watkins Glen and begin building the baseline for this weekend's Honda Indy 200. They were back on track last week. "The track was better the second time we tested because there were more cars running," Matos said. "It was much close to race conditions in terms of grip. It's nice to have a fast car, but we do know the conditions will change on race weekend."
It was August 7, 2009 in Mid Ohio when Gil de Ferran announced his retirement as a driver to pursue his dream of becoming an IndyCar team owner. One year later the dream has come true, as de Ferran returns to Lexington, OH as the managing partner and team president of de Ferran Dragon Racing. De Ferran's retirement from the cockpit was made in style, coming immediately after he won the Mid Ohio ALMS race, his fourth win of the season and third in a row. He and Simon Pagenaud posted five wins during the 2009 season.
GIL ON MID OHIO
"Last year seems like a century away. So much has happened since Mid Ohio 2009 that I really have to jog my memory. Regardless, Mid Ohio will always be a special place for me where I had some very special memories as a driver and as an owner. But this is the past, it would be great to continue to build on our recent results and do well in Ohio."
Davey Hamilton will return to the cockpit of the #21 HP de Ferran Dragon car in Chicago. He was scheduled to race three races, including Texas, but that plan was altered following Indianapolis. "It was always on the cards that Davey would drive again for us this season," de Ferran said. "Obviously, he was scheduled to run in Texas, but the accidents in Indy ruined that plan, now we will have him in Chicago. He really helped us a lot in Indy and I am sure the same will be true in Chicago. I wish we could run two cars full-time as this is very important to a team's competitiveness with the current testing restrictions."
GIL ON SERVING ON THE ICONIC COMMITTEE
"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."
GIL ON INDYCAR FUTURE
"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!"
-source: de ferran dragon racing