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Jaguar power returns to Trans-Am racing this summer with a 650-horsepower Jaguar AJ-V8 engine in a carbon fiber and Kevlar-bodied racing XKR, developed by Michigan-based Rocketsports Racing.
A 4.5-liter version of Jaguar’s lightweight dual overhead-cam V8 will power one of the team’s Jaguar XKR-bodied race cars in the 2003 Trans-Am Series for the BFGoodrich Tires Cup, and will be driven by two-time Trans-Am champion Scott Pruett.
“”The last time a Jaguar engine competed in Trans-Am was back in 1981. Its return is long overdue,”” said Rocketsports Racing team owner, Paul Gentilozzi. “”It’s only right that we should be using a Jaguar engine in our XKR.”” Gentilozzi re-introduced Jaguar to Trans-Am competition during the 2000 season. The following year he drove the Rocketsports Racing XKR to his third Trans-Am title and delivered the coveted Manufacturers’ Championship title to Jaguar.
Earlier this year, Gentilozzi approached Jaguar Cars North America with a proposal to switch from Ford pushrod power to the Jaguar AJ-V8. He was given an enthusiastic reception — together with a new engine. “”Trans-Am is a perfect fit for Jaguar in the North American market,”” said George Ayres, Vice President, Marketing, Jaguar North America. “”It is the longest-running North American road racing series — a series that continues to see a growing number of Jaguar XKR-bodied cars competing — and the marque is delighted to be returning to road racing where it has enjoyed great success in the past.””
Work has already started on developing the racing Jaguar V8 at Rocketsports’ workshops in Lansing, Michigan. The engine itself is based on the same all-aluminum 4.2-liter AJ-V8 that powers the XK8 and supercharged XKR sports cars. Rocketsports’ engineers plan to increase the V8’s capacity from 4.2 to 4.5 liters and more than double the horsepower from the standard 294 bhp (SAE) to over 650 bhp. With its race-tuned AJ-V8 revving to over 9000 rpm, the carbon fiber and Kevlar-bodied racing XKR is guaranteed to be quick. The team expects standstill to 60mph sprinting in a staggering 3.2 seconds, with quarter-mile acceleration in 10.8 seconds at 135mph, and a top speed of 180mph.
Rocketsports Racing is also building a new XKR race car to wrap around the Jaguar engine. It will feature modified bodywork, including a new DTM- inspired nose, and a dedicated Jaguar livery.
“”Formula One will continue to be the cornerstone of all racing for Jaguar,”” explained Ayres. “”But the series only comes to the U.S. once each year. Trans-Am, on the other hand, features 11 races around the country and enjoys a huge, enthusiastic following. With at least six XKR-bodied cars racing this season, Jaguar has a strong, highly-visible presence.””
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