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JaguarRSR returns to familiar territory

The JaguarRSR race team returns to California this week for Round Three of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It was seven months ago that the JaguarRSR XKR GT took its first green flag on this very same track with Marc Goossens and Paul Gentilozzi behind the wheel. Ryan Dalziel joins the driver line-up in 2010 as the event duration has increased to a six-hour endurance run.

JaguarRSR has been busy since its last race at Long Beach. Making good use of the data collected during that event, changes were made in preparation for a test at Road Atlanta. During a two-day run, the #75 JaguarRSR XKR GT completed nearly 500 fast, trouble-free miles. The team looks to build on this success this weekend.

All three drivers have previous experience on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course that features the famed Corkscrew. Gentilozzi has raced there 15 times with four wins combined between IMSA GT and Trans-Am. Goossens has made four starts, three in Daytona Prototypes in the Grand-Am Series and his first ALMS event with JaguarRSR last year. The Belgium fell 1.504 seconds shy of taking the overall victory in 2008, ironically enough that loss was to Dalziel. With five starts under his belt on the Monterey peninsula road course, Dalziel finished as the runner up in the Atlantic Series in 2003 and 2004, runner up in 2007 in Grand-Am competition and won in 2008.

The Jaguar XKR has been on the podium twice under Gentilozzi’s helm in Trans-Am Series competition at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It won from pole in 2004, recorded the fastest race lap in 2001 and 2004, and has led its share of race laps.

The team will take to the track on Thursday evening as part of the Promoter Test Day before the race weekend officially kicks off on Friday, May 21. There will be two practice sessions on Friday before qualifying at 3:30 p.m. PDT for the GT and GTC classes. The American Le Mans Series Monterey Presented by Patrón race takes the green flag at 2:30 p.m. local time with a six-hour duration.

Ryan Dalziel, co-Driver of the #75 JaguarRSR XKR GT

“I am really proud to be part of the JaguarRSR GT program, and proud of the work these guys have done in a short time. I think finishing at Long Beach was a turning point for the team and I know that going into Round 3 we are confident that we will be closer to the front runners in the GT class. We still have a lot of work to do, but I think everyone will see a big gain from JaguarRSR this weekend.

I love Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. I remember going to this track for the first time as a spectator late 2001 and being blow away by the venue and layout of the circuit. It is one of those race tracks that as a driver you always want to have an opportunity to compete at in your career. My first few laps there was in an Atlantic car in 2002 and I remember after my first run coming in and saying to my engineer “that was awesome”. It is such a fast flowing track and I love it. By far my most memorable moment at this track was winning there in 2008 in a Grand-Am Daytona Prototype. Not only was I two laps down when I took over the car from my teammate with around two hours to go, but my now JaguarRSR teammate Marc Goossens was who I passed for the lead. We went down the cork screw in historic, dramatic fashion bumping and bouncing over the dirt on the outside run-off area. We both didn’t want to give up our positions. Thankfully I came out ahead and won the race. Marc wasn’t too happy at the time but I know he respected me for not letting that win slip away. He and I sill laugh about that race.”

Paul Gentilozzi, co-Driver of the #75 JaguarRSR XKR GT
“Sebring was disappointing, Long Beach was better but still not near our potential. Our recent test at Road Atlanta showed promise and good reliability. The #75 JaguarRSR XKR GT should be suited for this track; it is about momentum and carrying speed as opposed to acceleration out of the slow corners.

My first win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was in 1992 in IMSA GTS beating Tommy Kendall. I like the track and feel it is a significant part of road racing in North America. We will work to get a car set-up that will suit us for the six-hour race. As much as we care about this race, we also have to be cautious as we have to leave for Le Mans five days after.”

Marc Goossens, co-Driver of the #75 JaguarRSR XKR GT
“We are still going through a development stage with the #75 JaguarRSR XKR GT. The team is working flat out on the car and it shows as we get stronger and stronger, both on speed and on reliability each time we take to the track.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of those tracks in the U.S. that is also well known in Europe. To drive it, it is pretty interesting as there is a mix of slower and faster turns, as well as some challenging elevation changes. Obviously the famous “Corkscrew” chicane is quiet an experience, lap after lap. One of the highlights for me at this venue is taking the green flag in the JaguarRSR XKR GT. It was the first race we competed in since the start of the program. Being the lead driver for that race last year was a real honor.”

Starting your lap –
Your first time climbing up the steep start finish straight, cresting the top of the hill and pulling top gear is awesome. The car gets light and the track on the other side is completely blind till you land on the downside of the hill. You have to use the pedestrian bridge across the track at the top as a reference for where to position the car cresting the hill, something that is very important as we drive around the rest of Laguna Seca Raceway.

Turn 2 – Braking into the tight, almost hairpin turn 2 is always really tricky. Taken in 2nd gear it’s very easy to over shoot the brake zone and drive off line which kills your lap time for that lap completely but there is also a lot of lap time in the brake zone so you can’t afford to be conservative. Turn 2 is a double apex corner and it’s extremely important to be patient through the center of the corner and to get on the power only once exiting the corner. You can use some curbing here on exit of a fast lap.

Turn 3 – Approaching is very difficult as there is not much in the way of references and you have to hustle the car from the right side of the track to the left to set up for the turn 3 right hander. We will likely use 3rd gear here and rolling entry speed is key. Turning in early helps with front grip as it tends to be an understeering corner, and using the inside curbing usually helps also. Early to the power is important as we have a decent size straight towards turn 4.

Turn 4 – Is a very fast and flat corner. We will likely approach in 4th or 5th gear and the corner will be 4th. Turn 4 is a fast sweeping right hander with a straight afterwards. Its very important to get through here with as much minimum speed as possible, this is crucial to not only over all lap time, but also to defend your position or attack the position in front. Turn 5 is a good passing zone so exit speed of Turn 4 is most important part, you have to try to use the entire exit curb without running onto the dusty Laguna Seca run off areas.

Turn 5 – Awesome corner. It is heavily banked which really helps your corner speeds. It is a left-handed corner where we will approach either at the top of 5th or 6th gear. You can brake very late here and you release the brake quickly and roll as much speed into the apex as the car will handle. The car will initially understeer but once you hit the banking it naturally helps to turn the car and you can pretty much get on full power from the apex curbing. Now we start to climb the long hill, ultimately to the corkscrew.

Turn 6 – In my opinion the trickiest corner at Laguna Seca. It is approached uphill and is approx a 70degree left handed corner that flattens out slightly as you turn in, causing every car to oversteer on entry if your technique isn’t right. The trick is turning in slightly early so that you cross the crest at the entry as straight as possible. As soon as the car will allow you want to pick up your throttle and transfer weight back onto the rear axles and stabilize your car. From this point if your car is working well at the front you will compress through the center of the corner and be able to apply full power and accelerate up the steep hill to the corkscrew.

The Corkscrew (turns 8 & 8a) – There is only one line as the track weaves first left then right up from the fast turn 6. Sticking to your line makes it very difficult to run side by side with another car, unless the have a slow run through turn 6. You are braking as close to the top of the hill as possible and you are completely blind turning left into the first half of the famous corkscrew. When you turn left the left-hand curbing is below your line of sight so being familiar with where it is you start to use it more and more which greatly helps negotiate the Corkscrew’s tight entry. When you start to turn left you will see a very prominent tree straight ahead, if you aim for that tree it naturally drives you down into the correct racing line for the right-handed part two of the Corkscrew. The way to be fast through the Corkscrew is all about how much speed you can roll through the left-handed part and how aggressive your car will allow you to accelerate. If you can get on the power hard straight away you will power down the hill to the right away from the competition.

Turn 9 – As you leave the corkscrew you accelerate quickly back down the steep hill. Approaching 9 you want to turn in early and wait for the car to stop understeering. It’s a fast 4th gear corner so you want to try getting through as fast as possible and with little or no brakes.

Turn 10 – Fast, banked right handed corner, again in 4th gear. Similar to turn 5, turn in early and use the banking to turn the car. Initially you will understeer but trust the track to turn you. You can gain a lot of lap time here with having a confidence in your car.

Turn 11 – Very important, 2nd gear, 90degree left hander which leads onto the start/finish straight. Most important thing here is not to out brake yourself and get on the gas as early and quickly as possible. Traction is always the biggest issue for lap time here so be patient and let the car do the work.