2011 ALMS Season drivers
Junqueira, Da Matta and P.J. Jones confirmed
EAST LANSING, M., (February 1, 2011) - It is with great pleasure and excitement that Jaguar RSR announces its plans for the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrόn season to run two full-season Jaguar RSR XKR GTs with what is turning out to be a star-studded driver lineup. One of the entries will see open-wheel stars Bruno Junqueira and Cristiano Da Matta kick off their GT racing careers on the Jaguar RSR full season roster and P.J. Jones has been signed to pilot the second entry and awaits confirmation of his teammate.
The duo of Junqueira and da Matta is truly unique; not only are they both from Brazil but were born in the same town and have raced against each other throughout their entire careers. They have had a love-hate relationship; off track they are close friends (Editors Note: da Matta was the best man for Junqueira when he married), on track they are fierce competitors. However, this year brings a new depth to their relationship - teammates.
Both of them come from the open-wheel scene and individually hold extensive racing resumes. Junqueira won the F3000 championship (2000), was a test driver for the Williams Formula One team (1999/2000), finished as the runner up in the Champ Car World Series championship three years in a row (2002 - 2004) and qualified six times in the Indy 500 earning the pole in 2002. Da Matta was the Brazilian Formula Ford champion (1993), the Brazilian Formula 3 champion (1994), Indy Lights champion (1998), the Champ Car World Series champion (2002), and went to make a name for himself in Formula One driving for Toyota.
California-native P.J. Jones returns to the IMSA racing scene after a successful campaign driving for the Toyota factory GTP team. In 1992 he was named the "Most Improved Driver" and in 1993 he captured six poles, three wins - the highlight being the Daytona 24 hour classic. He was runner up in the 1993 Drivers' Championship and played a vital role in securing the GTP Manufacturers' Title for Toyota. In addition to his GT experience, he finished third in Indy Lights (1991), earned the first PPG Cup points for a Toyota-powered Champ Car (1996), finished second in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals (1996), was a test driver for the Toyota NASCAR program, and has become a road racing specialist for multiple teams in NASCAR.
"We believe that 2011 holds a lot of promise," said Paul Gentilozzi, Jaguar RSR Principal Partner and co-driver. "We have our 'rookie' season behind us, and look forward to a more competitive sophomore season with all of the changes and developments that we have made to the program. We have such great talent in our driver lineup, all of these guys will bring a unique perspective and influence to the team.
"The team and its newcomers will be participating in the ALMS Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida, February 9 and 10 in preparation for the 2011 ALMS season opener - the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 19.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY
Bruno Junqueira, co-driver of the #99 Jaguar RSR XKR GT
"I am extremely happy to have the opportunity to compete in the American Le Mans Series; it is a series that I have been looking forward to joining for the last couple of years. I am proud to be a part of the Jaguar RSR team and to be working with Paul Gentilozzi. I have known Paul for some time now; he is a racer and we have a good partnership. It is also an honor to be representing the Jaguar brand and to have the opportunity to drive the XKR GT.
I am excited to be working with Cristiano (Da Matta). He is an extremely talented driver and it will be an honor to call him my teammate. We are both from Brazil, actually from the same city. We have always been battling with each other on the track, my fondest memory was in 2002 when we fought for the Champ Car World Series Championship title, he won and I finished second. It will be nice to have him on my side, to work with him instead of trying to beat him."
Cristiano Da Matta, co-driver of the #99 Jaguar RSR XKR GT
"I have had a great career in open-wheel cars, and I feel that it is now time to begin a new chapter in my life. I have always admired GT racing, so I am excited to get started and to be a part of the American Le Mans Series with Jaguar RSR. Working with Paul (Gentilozzi), someone who has experience in GT racing, couldn't be a better situation for me. He will be a great teacher and I will be able to learn a lot from him. Driving for Jaguar is something big; a big responsibility in one way and a big pleasure in another because I will be working on developing the car and showing the true glamour of the XKR out in its racing form.
Teaming up with Bruno is something special. Bruno and I have been very close and we have been racing together since our go-kart days. I have always been competing against him and I have never been cheering for him, so it is going to be a different experience for me. Having my first year in a series that is team focused, where you share the driving duties, with him as my driving partner is going to be very memorable and enjoyable."
PJ Jones, co-driver of the #98 Jaguar RSR XKR GT
"I have had some of my best racing years in IMSA GT competition and to return with Jaguar RSR is a thrill. I am real happy to be a part of the team and to represent Jaguar. Previously I competed in the GTP category and now to be in GT racing as a part of the American Le Mans Series looks very competitive. I think that it adds a lot of excitement and thrill for the drivers. From what I have seen in the Jaguar RSR team they have made a lot of improvement from last year. We will go down to Sebring to test things out and prepare for the big event in March. We have a great driver lineup with a lot of experience - it should be a great season and I can't wait to get started."