Las Vegas, Nevada – The Sierra Sierra Enterprises team started the season off on the right foot claiming the first 2007 win for Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) as well as a fourth place finish for James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) at the series opener of the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda series.
The Las Vegas Grand Prix (a 2.44-mile street course) was plagued by four caution flags with only 15 of the 27-car field finishing the 22-lap race. Fortunately, both Sierra Sierra drivers stayed clear of contact.
Matos took advantage of restarts throughout the race to pass Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Daltile/Konika Minolta/Dynacor) and teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks). On the 19th lap Matos made the final pass of Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) to take the lead. He was able to hold Wickens back during the last caution period to secure victory for the team and first place in the point's race.
"This was a perfect start to the season for Sierra Sierra. We worked really hard on the car. We expected a lot of caution flags, but not as many as we saw. The team gave me a perfect car so I was able to take the restarts and hold back Wickens during the last caution," said Matos.
Hinchcliffe gave a solid performance at the initial qualifying round claiming provisional pole. He was not able fully showcase his speed during the caution-filled race. Hinchcliffe finished the race in 4th position and holds 4th in the points standing.
"I know my car was fast and that we have a great building block for next week at Long Beach. I came away from the race in fourth and have solid points entering the season," said Hinchcliffe.
When asked about the win, Richard Raeder, Team manager commented, "This was a great way to start the season. This finish gives the team the momentum that they need heading into a busy month of racing. We're really looking forward to Long Beach and Houston. James [Hinchcliffe] did really well at the Houston test and Rafa [Matos] placed second at the 2006 Long Beach race. We have strong results at both tracks and will look to improve each session."
The team is headed west to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 13 -15) for the second of three back-to-back race weekends.