JAGUAR CONFIRMS LE MANS RETURN
The JaguarRSR team’s XKR GT is on the official Le Mans 24 Hours entry list
Jaguar is back at Le Mans – the biggest sports car race in the world. Nearly 50 years after Jaguar’s first Le Mans 24 Hours win with the C-type of Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead, Jaguar will line up at the fabled 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe once again on June 12, 2010.
With seven wins between 1951 and 1990, Jaguar is the most successful British marque in Le Mans 24 Hours history, even though it has but has not raced in the event since 1995. The car that will be used for Jaguar’s return is the JaguarRSR XKR GT, which is also being run by Paul Gentilozzi, principal partner, JaguarRSR, in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) this year. Its place on the official Le Mans entry list was announced by Le Mans race organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest on February 4.
“Motorsport has always been important to the Jaguar brand,” says C.J. O’Donnell, global marketing director, Jaguar Cars. “Our domination of Le Mans in the 1950s was a foundation on which the company was developed. It was 20 years ago that Jaguar last won Le Mans, with the TWR Jaguar Sport XJR-12 driven by John Nielsen, Price Cobb and Martin Brundle. Returning to Le Mans will reignite excitement for the marque across the globe – all the more poignant in our 75th anniversary year.”
The XKR GT made its European public debut at the 2010 Autosport International show in the UK in early January, and started its 2010 ALMS campaign with the Sebring 12 Hours in Florida on March 20. Paul will be joined by fellow American Scott Pruett and Belgian Marc Goossens in the driving line-up for both the ALMS and Le Mans itself.
“We’re delighted to have been granted entry into the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours,” said Paul. “It’s a race held dearly in the hearts of motorsport fans across the world, and for Jaguar to be racing there again is something special. We’re also fortunate to bring an international line-up of the world’s finest driving talent, including Scott Pruett and Marc Goossens, to this race.
“Spirits will be high around Jaguar’s return to Le Mans, but we must remember the incredibly high level of competition. A podium place in our category will not fall into our hands. That said, I can guarantee 100 per cent commitment from JaguarRSR and urge fans of Jaguar and Britain’s racing heritage to support the team whole-heartedly.”
Paul Gentilozzi is the founder of Rocketsports Racing, which has run cars in the Trans-Am sports car series since 1985 – the team has won seven manufacturers’ titles, including five with Jaguar XKs – as well as a ChampCar single-seater outfit from 2003 to 2008. In addition to being a successful businessman, Paul is also a world-class driver in his own right, having won the 1994 Daytona 24 Hours and the Trans-Am series five times, as well as setting a 225.675mph Jaguar speed record in a prototype Jaguar XFR.
Belgian Marc Goossens has a wealth of endurance racing experience in Europe and North America, having competed at the Petit Le Mans, the Sebring 12 Hours, the Daytona 24 Hours, Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours and the Silverstone 1000km, and won the 24 Hours of Zolder four times. He’s also a nine-time veteran of the Le Mans 24 Hours, having driven for Ferrari, the French Courage team, the works Cadillac outfit and the American Riley & Scott team.
American Scott Pruett is one of North America’s most versatile racers, having competed in CART and IndyCar single-seaters, NASCAR, and a variety of sports car series. He’s a two-time Grand-Am champion (in 2004 and 2008 with Ganassi Racing), as well as a three-time winner of the Daytona 24 Hours in 1994, 2007 and 2008. Scott has previous experience of working with Rocketsports, having won the 2003 Trans-Am title with the team, and won the GTS class of the 2001 Le Mans 24 Hours on his debut at the event with the works Corvette Racing outfit.
THE AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES
The American Le Mans Series is North America’s premiere sports car racing championship. Its roots come from a 10-hour event at Road Atlanta, Georgia in 1998 – called Petit Le Mans – which was set up by businessman Don Panoz to take the spirit of the French 24 Hour endurance classic and celebrate it in the US.
The first eight-round American Le Mans Series followed a year later, run to the same rules as the Le Mans 24 Hours, and adding the Sebring 12 Hours and a series of two-hour events at some of North America’s finest road racing circuits, including Mosport Park in Canada, and Laguna Seca and Sears Point in California.
Over the years, events at the famed Long Beach street circuit in Los Angeles and the challenging Mid-Ohio road circuit – among many other new races – have bolstered the calendar further. Equally, the ALMS’s huge international audience, and the prospect of automatic entries into the Le Mans 24 Hours for top teams in each class, have helped to ensure a strong, competitive entry list of works-backed cars from the likes of Audi, Ferrari, Porsche, Cadillac, Chrysler and Chevrolet.
2010 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES CALENDAR
Sebring 12 Hours
Long Beach (1hr40m)
Long Beach, California
Laguna Seca (6hrs)
Le Mans 24 Hours
Le Mans, France
Miller Motorsports Park (2hr45m)
Lime Rock Park (2hr45m)
Road America (2hr45m)
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Mosport Raceway (2hr45m)
Petit Le Mans (1000miles or 10hrs)
Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia