Gentilozzi Claims Fifth Long Beach Win in Motorock Trans-Am Series Season-Opener LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sunday April 18, 2004) -- Rocketsports team owner and driver, Paul Gentilozzi kicked off the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series season by claiming...
Gentilozzi Claims Fifth Long Beach Win in Motorock Trans-Am Series Season-Opener
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sunday April 18, 2004) -- Rocketsports team owner and driver, Paul Gentilozzi kicked off the 2004 Motorock Trans-Am Series season by claiming the win at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in California. The win marks the fifth victory at Long Beach for Gentilozzi and the 35th for Jaguar.
Gentilozzi, driving the number 3 Jaguar XKR led second-place finisher Greg Pickett to the checkered flag by a record .322 seconds. Gentilozzi's Rocketsports teammates Tommy Kendall and Tomy Drissi finished 11th and 15th respectively.
Three-time champion, Gentilozzi raced hard into turn one going inside of Boris Said to take the lead and held it through to the checkered flag. Gentilozzi's 25th career win and second flag to flag victory at Long Beach, was a repeat of his 1998 win, and the only two flag to flag victories for the Trans-Am Series.
"I knew I could take advantage of the 170 mile straight and made a move to the front right away," said Gentilozzi. "Boris followed and I stayed ahead of him, but it was a challenge. Then I saw him (Boris) sliding around in the oil on the track and I knew I had him. I had Picket coming in on me, and in typical Trans-Am style, there was some rubbing and racing. In the end, as in every Long Beach Grand Prix, it was an exciting finish."
When asked if this win was the most fulfilling thing of the weekend, Gentilozzi responded, "Without question, the most fulfilling thing this weekend was every fan that came out to support the race and the Long Beach Grand Prix. I've spoken to thousands of fans and am continually impressed by their enthusiasm and loyalty."
In his first race in six years, Kendall started strong from the pole and ran third most of the day. Kendall finished 11th after cracking the oil pan of the No. 11 car, leaving a well-greased track for the remainder of the field.
"I was hoping to lead into turn one, but saw Paul coming on the inside and figured he wasn't able to stop," said Kendall. I would've been entitled to turn in, but we would've both been in the tires, so I gave Paul room and Boris was able to get by, which is really too bad. I kept it up and was pretty motivated once I got dialed back in."
Kendall ran the No. 11 Jaguar R Performance XKR, featuring the new AJ-V8 four-valve engine, which is still in development. "Jaguar is extremely pleased with the performance of the new AJ-V8 four-valve engine and we're especially impressed with Tommy Kendall," said George Ayers, Vice President of Jaguar Marketing. "With Tommy behind the wheel of the Jaguar, we're confident this is going to be an exciting season and we look forward to the next race in Portland."
Rocketsports teammate Tomy Drissi had a challenging time on the track, which started with a multi-car tangle in turn one of lap one. Although Drissi persevered, he was forced to drop out in the sixth lap due to damage from the turn one incident.
"I was very excited to take the No. 5 Rocketsports Jaguar out for the season-opener, but am disappointed to have dropped out so early," said Drissi. "There's a very competitive field lined up for the season and I'll have to wait for my next opportunity to challenge them on the track."
The Rocketsports Trans-Am team will meet again for moreMotorock Trans-Am Racing Seriesaction at Portland International Raceway onJune 19, 2004.