Monday, February 7, 2011

Jaguar Stepping-up its GT Program


Heard this news in the closing ‘My-nutes ‘O Trackside with Kevin ‘N Cavin last Tuesday during Indiana’s Ice Storm 2011 broadcast... As I’m impressed that Kevin Lee actually likes the ALMS cars – thus giving a quick Shout-out to Paul Gentilozzi’s Factory backed TaTa Motors GT2 program...

What? Y’all didn’t knows that Jaguar & Land Rover are now the property of India’s TaTa Group - the same entity sponsoring thee “Fastest Indian,” (right!) a.k.a. Narain Karthikeyan, and more likely keeping the floundering Spanish Hispania F1 Team afloat! But I digress...

So Messer Lee pointed out that Mr. Gentilozzi had just inked former Champ Car Starz Bruno “WhineyBags” Junqueira, ‘Shorty, nee Cristiano da Matta and P J. Jones as three fourths of his re-invigorated Rocketsports Racing (RSR) Jaguar XKR GT2 racing team, which made its American Le Mans Series debut nearly one year ago at the 58th running of the Mobil 12hrs of Sebring, albeit a single car effort.

I seem to recall scribblin’ that somebody named ‘Scooter, nee Scott Pruett was supposed to drive for the Cat last June at Circuit de la Sarthe, albeit the dealio fell apart as Pruett moonlighted as a guest commentator on SPEED instead. But I was happy to see ex-CCWS driver Ryan Dalziel getting a decent full season ride for a change upon being announced as Rocketsports lead driver.

Yet things have changed for the better, as the team has stepped up to a two car effort for 2011 in the fiercely contested ALMS GT2 Class; which will see the RSR Cats squaring off against the likes ‘O Bobby Rahal’s Works BMW’s, Porsches’ 911 Panzer wagons, GM’s Corvettes, Ferrari’s F430 – and coming soon new F458 Italia model plus two Robertson Racing FordGT’s...

But I’m very happy to see that Da Matta is back in a decent ride, and will be teamed with his ex-rival Junqueira – with the two now being close friends. Recall that Cristiano won the 2002 CART title for Newman Haas Racing before spending two tough years in Formula 1 for the Toyota team before having his ugly testing accident at Road America. Thankfully Da Matta recovered and will now partner the man he beat for the Championship back in ’02.

I last heard of P.J. Jones whilst trying to qualify an underfunded No. 40 Wooshmobile Throwback liveried Dallara/Honda at the Speedway for Team Leader/Dollander Racing for Kent Baker in 2007, commemorating the 40th Anniversary of his father driving Andy Granatelli’s revolutionary turbine car. But P.J. was unable to find the necessary speed to qualify...

Yet my strongest memory of ‘lil Parnelli was back in the waning days ‘O IMSA GTP competition when he was behind the keyboard of that all conquering Dan Gurney AAR Toyota Turbo 4-banger.

No word (publically) on who’ll partner P.J. in 2011 – although I can think of three names right off the bat. RSR could go for an all Brazilian ‘N ALL P.J. Show by adding that Chesnutt fellah from the IRL, Err IndyCar... While ‘RAFA, nee Rafael Matos would be a good choice, albeit I don’t know if Gentilozzi wants to be outflanked by that many South Americans? Hmm? My third pick was gonna be Karun “Cowboy” Chandhok, as he’s got some nebulous linkage to Rocketsports financial backers, right? Oh Never Mind...

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