Jaguar powers back to series with Rocketsports Racing

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., February 22, 2003 - Jaguar power returns to Trans-Am racing this summer with a thundering 650-horsepower Jaguar AJ-V8 engine, developed by Michigan-based Rocketsports Racing. A 4.5-liter version of Jaguar's lightweight dual...

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., February 22, 2003 - Jaguar power returns to Trans-Am racing this summer with a thundering 650-horsepower Jaguar AJ-V8 engine, developed by Michigan-based Rocketsports Racing.

A 4.5-liter version of Jaguar's lightweight dual overhead-cam V8 will power one of the team's Jaguar XKR-bodied race cars in the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, and will be driven by two-time Trans-Am champion Scott Pruett.

"The last time a Jaguar engine competed in Trans-Am was back in 1981. Its return is long overdue," said Rocketsports Racing team owner, Paul Gentilozzi. "It's only right that we should be using a Jaguar engine in our XKR."

Gentilozzi re-introduced Jaguar to Trans-Am competition during the 2000 season. The following year he drove the Rocketsports Racing XKR to his third Trans-Am title and delivered the coveted Manufacturers' Championship title to Jaguar.

Earlier this year, Gentilozzi approached Jaguar Cars North America with a proposal to switch from Ford pushrod power to the Jaguar AJ-V8. He was given an enthusiastic reception - together with a new engine.

"Trans-Am is a perfect fit for Jaguar in the North American market," said George Ayres, Vice President, Marketing, Jaguar North America. "It is the longest-running North American road racing series - a series that continues to see a growing number of Jaguar XKR-bodied cars competing - and the marque is delighted to be returning to road racing where it has enjoyed great success in the past."

Work has already started on developing the racing Jaguar V8 at Rocketsports' workshops in Lansing, Michigan. The engine itself is based on the same all-aluminum 4.2-liter

AJ-V8 that powers the XK8 and supercharged XKR sports cars. Rocketsports' engineers plan to increase the V8's capacity from 4.2 to 4.5 liters and more than double the horsepower from the standard 294 bhp (SAE) to over 650 bhp.

While the production AJ-V8's alloy cylinder block and heads will be retained, a new heavy-duty crankshaft will be fitted along with lightweight racing pistons and connecting rods. Modifications will also include custom- made headers and a race fuel injection system.

With its race-tuned AJ-V8 revving to over 9000 rpm, the carbon fiber and Kevlar-bodied racing XKR is guaranteed to be quick. The team expects standstill to 60mph sprinting in a staggering 3.2 seconds, with quarter- mile acceleration in 10.8 seconds at 135mph, and a top speed of 180mph.

Rocketsports Racing is also building a new XKR race car to wrap around the Jaguar engine. It will feature modified bodywork, including a new DTM- inspired nose, and a dedicated Jaguar livery.

Driver Scott Pruett is no newcomer to Jaguar. He co-drove with Gentilozzi, Brian Simo and Michael Lauer to win the GTS class in the 2002 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in a Rocketsports Racing XKR. A decade earlier, he won the same race in a Jaguar XJR12 for the British TWR team.

"I'm really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Jaguar XKR again," said Pruett. "It's a privilege to renew my relationship with Jaguar. We've enjoyed a lot of success together, first with the XJR12 and more recently with the XKR. Jaguar's heritage and success in road racing is legendary."

During his already distinguished motorsports career, Pruett, 42, has notched-up two IMSA GTO championships (1986 and 1988), and took the Trans- Am championship (1987 and 1994). In the CART Champ Car World Series, the Wenatchee, WA native scored two wins and had 10 podium appearances, and was named 'Most Improved Driver' twice (1989 and 1991). In 2001, he won the Le Mans 24 Hours in the LMGTS class.

The last Trans-Am involvement for Jaguar was with Bob Tullius' legendary Group 44 team in 1981 with its V12-engined XJS race cars. The Trans-Am high point for Jaguar was when Tullius took the Manufacturers' title in 1978.

"Formula One will continue to be the cornerstone of all racing for Jaguar," explained Ayres. "But the series only comes to the U.S. once each year. Trans-Am, on the other hand, features 11 races around the country and enjoys a huge, enthusiastic following. With at least six XKR-bodied cars racing this season, Jaguar has a strong, highly-visible presence."

And since 2001, Jaguar North America has increased its ties to Trans-Am by providing a contingency sponsorship to the series - comprising a pole award that offers a two-year lease on a Jaguar XK sports car, and prize money to drivers finishing in the top three positions.

For the 2003 season, which kicks off with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, in Florida February 23, Jaguar North America will also supply an all-wheel- drive X-TYPE compact sports sedan for the series' safety car.

From its beginning as a manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars, Jaguar Cars has grown to become one of the world's premier manufacturers of prestigious automobiles. The Jaguar marque continues to stand for an unparalleled heritage and a tradition of elegant style, luxurious comfort, and refined performance.

Today, Jaguar delivers the "art of performance" to customers by offering a four-model range of luxury sedans and sports cars. The 2002 Jaguar X-TYPE now makes the marque accessible to a new segment of customers and is the company's first all-wheel drive model. The X-TYPE sport sedan combines a fresh performance spirit with the luxury, craftsmanship and refinement for which Jaguar is renowned.

The Jaguar S-TYPE debuted in 1999, and brought a midsize sedan to Jaguar's model line for the first time in three decades. The XJ series embodies a captivating blend of graceful elegance, timeless style and rich natural materials that has become the hallmark of the Jaguar marque. Finally, the XK series, including the XK8 and XKR coupes and convertibles, provides sports car enthusiasts with luxurious sports cars that deliver exhilarating performance.

-jaguar-

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About this article
Series Trans-Am
Drivers Scott Pruett , Brian Simo , Bob Tullius