Five Questions With ALMS GT JaguarRSR Team’s Rocky Moran Jr.
It’s August and this weekend it is all about the dedicated road track outside of Cleveland known as Mid-Ohio. The two top technology major automobile racing series converge, showcasing the best drivers American auto racing has to offer driving everything from open wheel, prototype closed body, and modified sports cars. IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series repeat in a double header event as thay did earlier in the year at Long Beach California.
At Long Beach, during the pre-race media day activities, we first met Rocky Moran Jr. behind the wheel of a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Camary pace car providing laps around the famed 11 turn temporary street course that features the long straightaway of Shoreline Drive. Rocky cuts the figure of an American football linebacker at well over six feet tall which is a little disarming when he might be standing in a field of car jocky’s like Cristian de Matta (around 5’5″), Oriol Servia (about 5’8″), Bruno Junqueira (around 5’9″)and Patrick Long (also around 5’8″).
Rocky is the son and business partner of famed All American Racers’ Grand Touring Prototypes Toyota Eagle MKIII driver Rocky Moran (as team driver, helped cement the IMSA Manufacturing Championships in ’92/’93 for Dan Gurney’s AAR team) who himself is a long, tall glass of water, standing at 6’3″ and over 200 lbs. during his racing career.
Rocky Moran Jr. at 32, married with two kids, hailing from Southern California, is coming into his own as a regular on Paul Gentilozzi’s JaguarRSR ALMS GT effort. This weekend at JaguarRSR he teams with PJ Jones driving the #98 Jaguar XKR GT in the fifth round of nine in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón held at Mid-Ohio. We catch up with Rocky the week after Mosport where his #98 just missed making the top 10 in Class when a tire puncture and change dropped Moran Jr. and Jones back to P11.
Driver’s Roundtable – The JaguarRSR team drivers take a moment to review the track at Mosport. From right to left are pictured #98 Jaguar XKR drivers PJ Jones & Rocky Moran Jr., #99 Jaguar XKR drivers Ken Wilden & Bruno Junqueira. Here, Rocky engages Ken in a discussion with an intent PJ looking on. Image Credit: JaguarRSR
(1) Your Father enjoyed success in the GTP category in IMSA back in the day. How do you see the LMP1 cars fitting in with such low car counts?
A – The GTP era was very unique and quite a bit different than the current ALMS era. Obviously, the biggest difference is the car count, for most years the GTP field was quite full and they enjoyed large factory involvement and support. You had Jaguar, Toyota , Nissan, etc. Today the LMP field is smaller and most of the factory support seems to be in GT classes where we are currently competing. The LMP cars are really cool, I wish there were more of them on the track with us, I’m sure they will figure out a way to attract more cars in the future.
(2) Have you ever considered the Grand Am series as an alternative in the Prototypes or are you satisfied with the GT series in ALMS?
A – I have raced the Grand-Am Daytona Prototypes with Gainsco Racing and Segal Motorsports in the past so I now have experience in both series. The Prototypes are faster but not necessarily any more difficult to drive, any car becomes challenging when you put it on the limit.
I am more than satisfied to be racing in the GT class in ALMS, I truly love this division. It is competitive, the series is very well run, and it is interesting to be in the class where you are passing cars but also still getting passed by LMP cars.
(3) How many drivers in GT switch back and forth between Grand Am GT and ALMS?
A – I don’t think too many drivers do the switch back and forth. I know many of them do for the 24 hours of Daytona and certain select events but I think it helps to stay focused in one area.
(4) Coming from a racing family, do you ever think about running LMP1 in Europe ?
A – I have not given much thought to racing LMP1 in Europe , but I’m sure it would be a blast. I would love to race the 24 hours of Le Mans , as this is such a huge event.
(5) How do you like piloting a car with the #98 in the ALMS?
A – I race the #98 car in GT and I love it. The #99 car is driven by Bruno and Kenny and they make for great teammates. We are only getting faster and more complete as a team so I am really looking forward to Mid-Ohio.
The JaguarRSR team looks to carry the momentum of posting the fastest GT race lap in the last event at Mosport to Mid-Ohio this weekend. With track veterans behind the wheel of the pair of JaguarRSR XKR GTs, the team will be looking to make additional strides to move up the 16-car GT field set to take the green flag in the fifth round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrόn.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 6 with ESPN2 airing the race starting at 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 7. Live video coverage on race day will be available at 3:15 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com in the US, and americanlemans.com for international viewers. Canadian fans may also watch live coverage on Rogers Sportsnet. Worldwide radio coverage will be available on American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com. or more information on the broadcasts, go to americanlemans.com/tv.
… notes from The EDJE
[Article first published as Five Questions With ALMS GT JaguarRSR Team’s Rocky Moran Jr. on Technorati]