Rocketsports and RuSPORT confirm joint effort EAST LANSING, Michigan – Champ Car teams Rocketsports Racing and RuSPORT announce that they will collaborate on efforts in the 2007 Champ Car World Series season with a technical and operational merge under the umbrella name of RSPORTS.
As the 2007 season approached, the two winning teams had decided separately that they would be scaling back their respective operations to one car each. After confirming that Alex Tagliani would return to the Rocketsports team to drive the #8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone the team was excited to enter their fifth year in the Champ Car World Series. On the other side of the paddock, fourth-year Champ Car team RuSPORT was pleased to announce the return of Justin Wilson to drive the #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone. However, in the highly competitive arena of Champ Car competition, single car teams are rarely successful because of the lack of information and data at their disposal. Two drivers can develop and exchange much more information, which can be the difference between dominating a race and merely participating.
Rocketsports owner Paul Gentilozzi and RuSPORT owner Dan Pettit began talks of sharing hospitality units which ultimately lead to further discussions on how the two sides might be able to benefit by working together for the upcoming season. In the final pre-season test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the two teams worked together as technical partners to see how things proceeded. Pleased with the results from both sides, the two forces have come together under the name RSPORTS for the 2007 season and beyond.
“The joining of Rocketsports and RuSPORT is both a strategic and economic alliance,” said Gentilozzi. “Two single car entries leave themselves without a technical sounding board that is certainly required today. Two drivers working together can expand the performance envelope when one is perhaps still looking for the right combination.
Team operations in many areas are made more efficient when we have less multitasking caused by financial restraints. A larger group of people working on the same task allows us to focus those efforts with single expertise.
The key ingredient is that both controlling partners are on the same page, it is clear that Dan Pettit and I are on that page. This arrangement will help both of us and our teams.”
Pettit mirrored Gentilozzi’s comments by adding “I am really looking forward to working together. This dual-effort gives us the strength we need to succeed this season in Champ Car by having two cars to work with. We have two veteran drivers that work well together and we can take advantage of a great engineering staff. It is going to be a great effort and strengthen both programs overall.”
Both Champ Car drivers Tagliani and Wilson, who enjoy a friendship off-track, look forward to the opportunity of working together as teammates.
“I have to say that it is good to run two cars within a team for both the technical and driving aspects, especially with the new Champ Car this year,” stated Tagliani, who will be starting his eighth season in Champ Car. “We can not rely on the information that we had from the past and we had limited time testing these new cars, so it is key to have a two-car effort in 2007. Together we can log more laps, gather more data, and be able to share information with one another, thus enhancing both operations. For the driver side, we can work together and really learn from each other. I am not perfect, so I try to improve each time I step into the cockpit. But part of being able to do that is having the opportunity to compare driving style, strategy, and data with another driver. Justin (Wilson) is a world-class driver and it will be great to work with him as a teammate.
Paul and Dan are great to work with, because they are both very passionate about racing. They want to succeed, and they are trying to find a way to take both teams to another level. It is fun to work with them and be a part of this new deal. It is a unique atmosphere. The drivers, engineers, and crew members were able to work well together during the test in Laguna and you could feel the chemistry was there right from the start.”
2006 Champ Car World Series runner-up Wilson added “For sure there is an advantage to having two cars, especially two-quick cars. We were able to demonstrate that through our combined efforts during the Laguna Seca test, as both Alex (Tagliani) and I were able to run quick times and close together. It is great to have two cars running within a team because you learn twice as much. It is definitely a big advantage to have a teammate, especially an experienced one like Alex. I feel that we, as drivers and the team, were able to benefit from working together in Laguna and I look forward to continuing this relationship for the 2007 season. I think together we can have very positive results for the team, our sponsors, and our fans.”
Under one team name, the two sides will remain at their current locations for the foreseeable future. The Rocketsports-side will maintain their longtime home in East Lansing, Michigan, while the RuSPORT-side will remain based in Loveland, Colorado. Combined efforts will be on-going between the two race shops, while the trucks will always be next to each other in the Champ Car paddock and both teams working together side-by-side in pit lane.
The 2007 Champ Car World Series season kicks off April 8 in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, the first of a full 16-race schedule running from April to December.
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