Raphael Matos Quickest at Indianapolis Liberty Challenge Pro Series Test INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., June 21, 2006 -- Following a last minute invitation to drive in the Indy Pro Series Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Tuesday, ...
Raphael Matos Quickest at Indianapolis Liberty Challenge Pro Series Test
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., June 21, 2006 -- Following a last minute invitation to drive in the Indy Pro Series Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Tuesday, Raphael Matos again showed why he is of such interest to top-tier car owners in open wheel racing. Matos, a native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil now living in Miami, Fla., stepped into the No. 41 Guthrie Racing/Car Crafters Special two hours after every other team had begun testing on the 2.606-mile Indy infield road course and set the quickest lap of the day. His time of one minute, 26.2657 seconds (108.502 mph) was four-tenths quicker than his nearest competitor despite Matos missing most of the morning session. The Open Test was in preparation for the Liberty Challenge Indy Pro Series event here at the famed Speedway. Matos will return July 1 to drive the No. 41 for Guthrie Racing at the third of four road course events on the 12-race Indy Pro Series schedule.
"We didn't have as much time on the track as the other quick guys," said the 2005 Star Mazda Series Champion. "I missed half of the morning session but the team had a very good baseline on the car; the car was pretty good. We were only allowed two sets of tires so we focused on race setup the rest of the morning. I just wanted to make sure we got a good race setup and we did that."
Matos was asked to substitute for Sean Guthrie (Albuquerque, NM) when Guthrie was not cleared to drive following an accident while testing at the Milwaukee Mile. The young Brazilian-- who was traveling from an event in Portland, Ore. when he received the call from team owner Jim Guthrie (Albuquerque, NM) late on Monday-- quickly grabbed a change of clothes upon arriving in Miami and made arrangements to travel to Indianapolis as quickly as he could. He arrived in Indiana at mid-morning on Tuesday and went straight to the track.
After the attention to find the best mechanical and aerodynamic compromise for the race, Matos and the Albuquerque, NM-based team gave only brief attention to a qualifying setup. It was then that Matos turned the quick lap on the track which in road course configuration runs the opposite direction of the oval layout.
"We did just a few laps focusing on the qualifying setup," commented Matos. "I don't think the car was 100%. We had some push still in the car. But, I think we can fix that pretty quickly when we come back for the race. I am very happy to be in the car but disappointed for Sean. This is a big race and it is too bad that he will miss it."
Rafa, as Matos is best known in the paddock, has driven for the Guthrie team twice this season. He won both of the races in his double-header inaugural on the St. Petersburg, Fla. street course in early April; the first victory coming from the pole position while the second came after a fight from sixth. He returned to the team at Watkins Glen International earlier this month but mechanical woes hurt the overall effort of the No. 41 team. Matos would have to settle for a disappointing 13th.
The Liberty Challenge Indy Pro Series 100-mile event will run on July 1 in support of the United States Grand Prix. The event will be broadcast on a tape delay basis on ESPN2, July 6 at 2 PM (ET). Live timing and scoring of the event, as well as news, can be found at Indy Pro Series web site at www.IndyCar.com/Pro.