New team, new look, new car, new brand – that was what was unveiled during a press conference today at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Rocketsports Racing, Inc. (RSR) establishes a new entity, formed to build and race Jaguar XKR’s in the ALMS GT2 category and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Rocketsports Racing officially announced a GT2 program for the American Le Mans Series that will see the East Lansing, Michigan-based team reunite with the Jaguar brand by entering a Jaguar XKR for a partial season in 2009 with a full-season championship effort in 2010.
“It has been difficult to be out of competitive racing for nearly a year,” said RSR team owner Paul Gentilozzi. “We are most fortunate to be able to return to what we know, winning sportscar championships. In particular, winning them in Jaguars. We haven’t spent our time idly; we’ve focused on engineering and construction of the Jaguar XKR. The luxury of time that we traditionally don’t have in this process has been a great asset. We feel like our work with both the ALMS and the ACO will give us a car that is number one: competitive on the track, number two: representative of Jaguar’s racing history, and number three: economically viable for customers in the GT2 series around the world.”
RSR will be entering the ALMS with Jaguar as a technical and marketing partner. Jaguar has provided vital engineering, information and support to assist the team in the homologation and construction process. Construction of the Jaguar XKR is near completion at the RSR facility. A parallel engine development process is also underway for the new AJ-133 direct injected 5-liter normally aspirated engine. The company’s plan is to begin testing and development in June and enter the ALMS series mid-summer. RSR will be building at least three XKR’s this year and will have cars available for customer use in 2010.
“The addition of Rocketsports Racing and Jaguar XKR speaks volumes about the status of the American Le Mans Series,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the world’s leading sports car series. “Not only does the Series add another prestigious automobile brand to its already world class lineup of manufacturers, but the fact that this addition occurs during such a challenging time in our industry makes the announcement truly significant. Paul Gentilozzi is one of the most experienced and qualified people in motorsports and his decision to bring Rocketsports and the Jaguar brand into the American Le Mans Series at this time is the best endorsement we could ask for.”
Looking back over the decades, I believe Jaguar’s finest hours in motorsports have occurred in sportscar racing. The timing of its return couldn’t be better. Jaguar can introduce, develop and showcase their technologies and immediately link the DNA of their racecar to the XKR in the showroom in a way that no other form of motorsport can match. We are very proud to be welcoming Paul Gentilozzi, Rocketsports and the Jaguar brand as the newest stakeholders of the American Le Mans Series, and we look forward to seeing them on the track in the very near future”.
The XKR racecar is based on the successful Jaguar XKR Aluminum chassis. Combining stampings, forgings, and extrusions, fastened by special rivets and high strength adhesives, the Jaguar designed structure offers an excellent platform on which to build a championship winning racecar. Added to this structure are steel roll cage and reinforcing members providing safety and stiffness in the face of the challenges presented by the demanding circuits and competition in the ALMS. The all-aluminum AJ-133 powerplant breathing through ACO mandated restrictors will be tuned to last 24 grueling hours at Le Mans and power the Jaguar XKR through the historic hills of Road Atlanta during the Petit Le Mans. The carbon fiber body optimizes air flow as permitted in the ACO rules, while also maintaining the design spirit of the beautiful XKR production car.
Rocketsports, Inc.’s previous competition in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) resulted in 17 victories, including a GTS class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1992. Running an Oldsmobile Cutlass in 1992, Paul Gentilozzi was the runner up in the Drivers’ Championship in the GTS class and the team won the GTO Drivers’ Championship and the Manufacturers’ Championship (Oldsmobile). In 1993, Rocketsports clinched the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship (Oldsmobile). A 1994 effort with Cunningham/Nissan resulted in an overall victory at the 24 hours of Daytona.
While RSR and Jaguar may be new to the ALMS series competition, they both have a rich history and heritage of performance in the motorsports industry. The same is to be said about their relationship together. Jaguar was re-introduced to the Trans-Am Series by Gentilozzi. In their tenure Rocketsports, Inc. had 66 starts, 31 of those resulted in Rocketsports team wins with an additional 4 victories by chassis/customer cars. This led to five Manufacturers’ and five Drivers’ Championships from 2000 – 2006 with Paul Gentilozzi, Scott Pruett and Klaus Graff. Rocketsports also earned a pole and victory (GTS Class) in a Jaguar XKR in 2002 at the famed 24 Hours of Daytona.
The Rocketsports/Jaguar relationship is also significant off track. From 2002 – 2004, Rocketsports, Inc. built two concept cars which included a racier X-Type and the most powerful road-going Jaguar convertible ever – the 550 horsepower XK-RS. In November 2008, RSR undertook a secret speed trial, taking a 2010 Jaguar XFR to the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The XFR achieved a stunning top speed of 225.675 mph – making it the fastest production Jaguar ever. In the vein of Rocketsports’ work on production Jaguars, RSR is developing high performance aftermarket components for the XKR and newly revealed XFR.
Furthering this announcement, Rocketsports Racing, Inc. has revealed an innovative look to go with the team’s new program and racecar. Rocketsports Racing, Inc. will be identified as RSR, emphasized by a new logo that was unveiled at today’s press conference.
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