Ricci and Lee strong in Long Beach debut Conquest Racing Champ Car Atlantics rookie Giacomo Ricci finished sixth in Sunday’s Long Beach Grand Prix as teammate and fellow Long Beach first-timer Matt Lee came home eleventh in the second round of Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda competition.
The thirty-car field is packed with a field full of hungry, talented drivers looking to take the $2 million dollar Championship prize with them up to Champ Car, and many of whom have experience on the difficult, wall-lined Long Beach circuit. Both Ricci and Lee (pictured right) proved to be undaunted by the track as they improved their times throughout the weekend and continued to work on their championship positions.
Italian native Ricci, who won both the European F3000 championship in 2006, qualified sixth for the fifty-minute race and his sixth place finish moved him to ninth in the overall championship.
“I think that sixth position is good and I am quite happy,” said Ricci. “Each week we are making more improvements to the car and I think we are on the right path. I had a good start, but I did not want to risk much in the first corner where others were taking huge risks. I think things are looking great for next week in Houston and I look forward to hopefully getting a pole position soon.”
Fellow Atlantic Rookie Lee, who finished second in the 2006 Formula BMW USA Championship, also avoided trouble in the streets through the thirty-one lap sprint race in his first run on the 1.98-mile temporary street circuit. Lee will enter round three from twelfth in the championship standings.
“I was held in twelfth position for almost the entire race but I was trying to put pressure on the guys ahead of me but they would not crack,” said the high school senior Lee. “My car had a few understeer problems so it was hard to get a good run on the straights to pass. However I kept my car on-track today so I was able to keep my cool.”
“Giacomo and Matt both did a good job in their first visit to Long Beach,” said team owner Eric Bachelart. “This is a track that is pretty easy to get yourself in trouble on, and they both drove smart races today and avoided any problems. We will look for more of that in Houston and hopefully we can show a little more speed with both our cars and keep progressing in the championship.”
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