JaguarRSR and their two XKR GT challengers took the green flag to kick off the second race of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron season. With both Cats on the prowl the race ended with Bruno Junqueira and Cristiano Da Matta achieving a team best position of sixth in the GT category.
After qualifying the #98 JaguarRSR XKR GT 11th on the GT grid, Paul Gentilozzi took the green flag and quickly began to work his way up through the field. He earned two spots running in ninth when on Lap 3 his day came to an end after contact with the wall in Turn 8.
"I had done that corner the same way for hundreds of laps, you cut the corner and go over the alligator strips - the only thing that I can estimate (because it happened so fast) was that I got the inside wheel on the wrong side of the bump and it sucked me into the wall," said Gentilozzi. "At that point, you are wide open throttle, so I grazed the inside wall which shot me to the outside and that was just a mistake on my part."
The team was undeterred knowing that they had two strong XKR's in the field. Junqueira started the race after qualifying 10th on the grid was working his way up the field. Using experienced race strategy, the team was able to place the Brazilian second in the GT class at the mid way point of the two hour timed event.
"It was a great run, we had a good race pace," commented Junqueira after his run. "I was about a half second slower than the fastest guy; I could see the lead pack in front of me my whole stint. The #99 JaguarRSR XKR GT had good handling throughout and was reliable throughout the whole weekend. I love Long Beach and it was so great to come back here. We didn't get the win, but for me it feels like a win."
Teammate da Matta climbed into the cockpit on lap 47 to take over after the car took on a full fuel load and fresh Dunlop tires. The Belo Horizonte, Brazil native had a solid drive to take the checkered flag sixth overall in class, netting the team's best series finish.
"It was a nice run," added da Matta on his stint. "I am really happy for the Jaguar and the RSR team. The main point is that since yesterday morning's first practice through today in the race, we didn't have any issue and this weekend was just about developing the #99 JaguarRSR XKR GT. It is nice to have this result from all the hard work we have been doing since Sebring. For me, it was a great time, I got time to just drive the car and get more mileage under my belt."
Overall the #99 car finished 12th in a field of 31 cars this weekend. The Brazilian duo earned individual, team and Jaguar's first points of the season tallying up six markers.
Gentilozzi added, "We had great fuel mileage and engine performance, the Jaguar direct-injected engine with the help of Motec controls showed us why the Jaguar is the leading production car for power and economy The Dunlop tires are really helping us get up to speed and things are coming together. We made a strategy choice and that choice left us sixth, but we don't feel bad splitting the BMW's and finishing ahead of the a couple of the Ferraris. It was a good event for us, now we will have a couple of months off in which we will be very busy developing and improving for the busiest part of the season."
Next up is the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut, July 9.