Sometimes, sponsor commitments can be great fun. During the July 4th weekend, PPG-Dayton Indy Lights driver Felipe Giaffone, pilot of the ...
Sometimes, sponsor commitments can be great fun.
During the July 4th weekend, PPG-Dayton Indy Lights driver Felipe Giaffone, pilot of the #21 Hollywood/Comet Conquest Racing Lola T97/20, traveled back home to Brazil. He was there to drive a Mitsubishi Pajero (Montero in the USA) in event #3 of the 6-race national Mitsubishi Rally series for his sponsor, Hollywood.
Of course, rallies aren't Felipe's normal arena. He's accustomed to keeping his sophisticated open-wheeler between walls and away from grass, not primarily working to keep the rubber side down. By virtue of his extensive resume, Felipe was entered in the Masters class for the one-day rally about 150 miles west of Sao Paulo. Of 200 entries, only 30 were in his category, marked by driver and navigator experience and accelerated vehicle sophistication and preparation. In the US, the Masters category would be called an "open" class.
"I thought it was just going to be a fun thing," said Felipe. They raced for five hours. Felipe was 13 seconds back after the first of nine stages. At one time he was 46 seconds down, which in rallying is light years. He said he "almost flipped over once" and "hit a berm, which caused a flat tire. But it was the right time, because we had to make a 15-minute mandatory stop on the next stage and we were able to make a tire change."
Did he have fun? Absolutely. Did he place well? Absolutely. "My navigator was very experienced, and he talked me through the course. After it was over, he asked me how I thought we did. I thought, out of 30 [Masters] cars, 20th would be nice."
When he saw the final results, Felipe Giaffone was proud. He finished fourth overall of 200 competitors. "I was the only driver there who was totally unfamiliar with my car. It was challenging to be racing when you have no idea where you're going. I had to trust my navigator. I was amazed when I saw the results and I can't wait to do it again, soon!"
With this kind of natural driving talent, it's no wonder Felipe Giaffone is a star in CART's PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship Series.