Monthly Archives: October 2011

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Indy Car Qualifying Report – Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (October 14, 2011) – Making your way through a 34-car field of screaming Indy cars on Sunday will require patience and handling, but having a drafting partner will pay big dividends over 200 nail-biting laps of the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway oval.

So while the Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Jay Howard (#15 Service Central Honda/Dallara/Firestone) and Pippa Mann (#30 RLL Honda/Dallara/Firestone) will start deep in the pack after Friday’s qualifying effort, they will line up nose-to-tail and will already be in place to help each other sluice through the field in the 2011 IZOD Indy Car season finale.

Howard qualified on the outside of Row 14 for Sunday’s race while Mann will grid directly behind him, claiming the spot on the outside of Row 15.

Howard logged a two-lap average speed of 218.577 mph on his qualifying run, with a best lap of 25.3961 seconds. His starting position in Vegas matches his grid position in the first of the two Texas races this year, in an event that saw the Englander pound through the field to gain 13 spots by the end of the race.

“There’s 34 drivers out here and we all want to be fast so it’s tough to get to the front,” Howard said. “The balance of the car is really good, I can put it any place I want it, we’re just trying to be faster. We struggled in qualifying at Texas but had a really good race car and hopefully we’ll be able to repeat that on Sunday for our partners at Service Central, R66T and Cyrca.”

Mann carded a two-lap average of 218.157 mph with a fastest lap of 25.4608 seconds. The British rookie spent a lot of time during the day’s practice session working on improving the car’s feel in traffic, which will pay off Sunday as 34 Honda-powered missiles will often find themselves fighting for the same piece of Las Vegas real estate.

“We’ve got a good handling car and I think it will be the same on Race Day, but we’re still looking for some speed,” Mann reported. “I got to run a good bit in traffic today during practice and the car feels good. Sunday is going to be a long, hot day but it could be good for us if we stay focused and work hard to make our way through the field.”

The qualifying run was the last bit of track time for the Indy Car drivers prior to the beginning of Sunday’s IZOD Indy Car World Championships. The 200-lap event can be seen live on ABC with coverage of the pre-race activities beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. The race is slated to take the green flag at 3:45 p.m. Fans can follow all of the action in every session live via their computer by visiting www.indycar.com

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Opens Practice at Indy Car Season Finale

LAS VEGAS (October 13, 2011) – The Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Pippa Mann and Jay Howard got on-track preparations for Sunday’s IZOD Indy Car Series season finale underway today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, taking the opportunity to turn their first-ever full-speed laps around the trying 1.5-mile oval.

The teams were afforded an hour of practice this morning, to be followed by more practice and qualifying tomorrow, and while both RLL cars lost precious time due to a lengthy cleanup following a competitor’s oil-line problem, both drivers logged more than 40 laps in their first sessions. Mann made 47 trips around the LVMS oval, ending up 19th on the time charts with a best lap of 25.0741 seconds (221.679 mph) in her first visit to the desert loop.

“It was a good feeling getting out on track today – we were able to run some competitive laps and despite a slightly interrupted practice session, we gathered some worthwhile data,” Mann said. “I'm pretty confident we'll have a good race car on Sunday, as I was able to run inside and outside of people out there on the track and set some fairly decent times in clean air, so I'm really looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”

Howard, who has 12 Indy Car starts on his resume but none at Las Vegas, posted 42 laps in the early afternoon session, hanging up a best time of 25.3269 seconds (219.466 mph). Howard, like his teammate, earned his fastest time late in his run and credits the value of having a second car in the RLL stable as key to improvement throughout the weekend.

“I think today was a good start and we’re just going to keep pushing and looking for more speed,” Howard reported. “Having a teammate here will allow us to try a greater number of changes as we try to find time, and allows us to gather valuable data that will help us move forward. I am really looking forward to the rest of the race weekend and representing Service Central as well as R66T and Cyrca on the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan car!”

The drivers will get a little non-track time in their cars tonight as they participate in a full-field parade that will see 34 Indy Cars running on the famed Las Vegas Strip. The team will get back to business tomorrow afternoon with another 45 minutes of practice, which leads into single-car qualifying that gets underway at 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The teams will not be on track Saturday, but will have a full day of preparation for Sunday’s 200-lap battle, which can be seen live on ABC. The race will take the green flag at 3:45 Eastern on Sunday afternoon. Fans can follow all of the weekend’s action live as well on www.indycar.com.

 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan To Play a Pair of Vegas Indy Car Season Finale

HILLIARD, Ohio (October 11, 2011) – This weekend’s IZOD Indy Car Series World Championships at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the swan song for the venerable Indy Car package of Honda power and the Dallara chassis, but as the Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Jay Howard (#15 Service Central Honda/Dallara/Firestone) and Pippa Mann (#30 RLL Honda/Dallara/Firestone) know, with 34 cars battling on the 1.5-mile LVMS oval, that swan song is likely to be more like a Metallica concert and less like an opera.

The field will be the largest for an Indy Car race in 14 years and will boast the most starters for an event outside of the Indianapolis 500 since 1983 (Pocono). For Howard, it will be his fourth race of the season with RLL, following promising outings at Indy and Texas, and he expects this one to be memorable.

“I'm really looking forward to having the 34 cars on the track at the same time,” Howard enthused. “The race weekend will be action-packed for the fans and to be behind the wheel for Service Central is an honor. This whole event is going to be second only to the Indy 500. Randy [Bernard] and INDYCAR have really made it into a spectacle and not just another race. I've never raced at Vegas before, but having been at the track in the past, it's going to be really exciting and I'm happy to be apart of it.” 

Mann returns for her third outing with RLL in the #30 car this season, and she comes off a valuable weekend at Kentucky where she earned 300 priceless miles of experience, and gained seven spots from her grid position. Neither Mann nor Howard have ever competed on the high-banked Vegas oval, but Mann knows that having a stablemate for the finale will pay dividends throughout the weekend.

“The season finale is going to be a great spectacle for race fans so I'm really looking forward to arriving in Las Vegas for this event,” reported Mann. “I've never driven at the track before but with such a wealth of experience at the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team, I'm confident that we'll be able to get up to speed fairly quickly. It's going to be really valuable having Jay Howard as my teammate for this event, and we'll be looking for a strong result to end the year with.”

This will be the eighth Indy Car event to be contested at LVMS, but oddly enough, due to the fluctuations caused by the open-wheel split of 1995-2008, Rahal Letterman Lanigan has yet to be part of an event there. But the team has plenty of experience on 1.5-mile ovals, and expects to be competitive.

“We are pleased to have two cars in the 2011 season finale and we feel that both Jay and Pippa will have a great opportunity to show why they should be considered for full-time rides in 2012,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “Indy Car has done a great job creating buzz around this event and we are eagerly anticipating a great race weekend and a fitting cap to a strong racing season for RLL.”

Practice gets underway with one session on Thursday afternoon, followed by practice and qualifying on Friday. The teams will not be on track Saturday, but will have a full day of preparation for Sunday’s 200-lap battle, which can be seen live on ABC. The race will take the green flag at 3:45 Eastern on Sunday afternoon. Fans can follow all of the weekend’s action live as well on www.indycar.com.

 

Pippa Mann Gains Precious Experience at Kentucky With RLL

SPARTA, Kentucky (October 2, 2011) – Whether you call them laps, trips, orbits, loops or even circumnavigations if you’re adventurous, if you want to improve as an IZOD Indy Car Series driver, you need time behind a steering wheel during race conditions to do it..

So in working toward that end, a sunny Sunday was a resounding success for rookie Indy Car driver Pippa Mann, who piloted her #30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda/Firestone without incident over 197 laps of the tricky Kentucky Speedway 1.5-mile oval.

The seat time was invaluable for the first-year driver, who completed just her second race in her nascent career. She stayed out of trouble, worked over the full race to help the RLL crew improve the car, and also got priceless experience in handling green-flag pit stops.

““We had a rough stint to start the race and we developed a big push that caused us to lose a couple laps, but the guys did a great job in bringing the car back,” Mann said. “After that first stop, the car got a lot better and I was able to gain a lot of experience. Nobody laid down and gave up after that first stint, everybody kept battling hard and I was very impressed with that. I learned a lot that of things that I will be able to use at Las Vegas in two weeks.”

Mann started 29th after a spin and the subsequent contact prevented her from making a qualifying attempt on Saturday, but she quickly settled in and started to work on finding the fastest way around the racetrack once Sunday’s race got underway. The pit-stop experience paid off later in the race as Mann gained several spots with smooth stops while many of her competitors had spins and contact during their stops.

At the end of the day, the ability to keep her nose clean and the work Mann put in on finding consistent laps paid off in a 22nd-place finish, allowing her to gain seven spots from her starting position.

“We really wanted to see Pippa get a full race day under her belt with us and get more experience in these cars, and more importantly, in these conditions,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “There were 29 cars out there today and on a track like this one, that’s a task that is going to keep you pretty busy as a driver. I think Pippa did a nice job keeping her head and she worked very hard all day to make the car better. Those are all positive things that we can all take with us as we head to Las Vegas in two weeks.”

Mann and teammate Jay Howard will next compete at the IZOD Indy Car World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which serves as the 2011 Indy Car season finale. The race will take place Sunday, October 16 and will be shown live on ABC.

 

BMW Team RLL Completes 2011 ALMS GT Hat Trick at Petit Le Mans

Munich/Atlanta, 1st October 2011.  BMW has written another chapter in motorsport history in the USA at the finale of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans, at Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Georgia. BMW Team RLL won a second consecutive manufacturers’ championship in the GT class to complete a 2011 hat trick of titles. The drivers’ and team championships was secured two weeks ago with one race still to go. The last time BMW achieved this feat was in 2001 with the BMW M3 GTR. BMW only returned to the ALMS with the BMW M3 GT with Rahal Letterman Lanigan in 2009.

After a thrilling race, Dirk Werner (DE), Bill Auberlen (US) and Augusto Farfus (BR) ultimately achieved a third place finish, completing 367 laps around the 2.54-mile circuit. After an incident with a slower car in the closing stages of the race caused two pit stops to repair the damage, their teammates Dirk Müller (DE), Joey Hand (US) and Andy Priaulx (GB) finished the race in ninth place.  At least one BMW M3 GT finished on the podium in every single race this season. Dirk Müller and Joey Hand secured first place in the drivers’ championship, ahead of Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen (Corvette). Dirk Werner and Bill Auberlen (US) finished third overall. BMW Team RLL clinched victory in the team competition, ahead of Corvette Racing. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, BMW finished ahead of Porsche.

With this strong result, the BMW drivers scored valuable points for two championships. The 1000 mile race at the roller coaster Road Atlanta circuit not only counts towards the American Le Mans Series, but also the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.

“The entire team deserves a huge compliment. Everyone involved on both sides of the Atlantic have been justly rewarded for their tireless efforts”, said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “To celebrate this kind of success in one of the toughest racing series in the GT class is a fantastic result. Throughout the season, the key to this success was excellent drivers, a very low error rate, a team working in almost perfect harmony, our strong tire partner Dunlop – and the BMW M3 GT, of course. Our engineers really raised the bar in GT racing with this car this year.”

Ludwig Willisch, President of BMW of North America, added: “Congratulations to everyone at BMW Team RLL. To achieve an excellent result like this with the BMW M3 GT in one of the most prestigious GT racing series in North America is simply fantastic. We can all be proud of this achievement. More BMW M cars are sold in the USA than anywhere else in the world, underlining the importance of this success.”

Bobby Rahal: “We came here to win the Manufacturers Championship for BMW and we did it. It was not an easy race. We had a number of tire punctures, an incident with a slower car in the dark, and so much traffic.  This kept us from the top of the podium, but we knew what we had to do to win the Manufacturers Championship and I am certainly pleased to bring the title to BMW for the second consecutive year. I am extremely grateful to all of the sponsors and partners that support BMW Team RLL.”

BMW also emerged victorious in the “Green X Challenge” category, which is all about using resources responsibly.

Dirk Müller: “In the race, I had a moment of shock. I came into a blind apex in fourth gear and just avoided crashing into another car that was stopped on track. I just clipped the right side of my car and had to pit for repairs. Right now, I am just happy to be here in one piece. Nevertheless, we had a great season. I am very, very pleased that were able to secure the driver’s championship at the last race. We can be very proud on our achievements.”

Joey Hand: “It is a great feeling racing here as the 2011 driver’s champion. It was a great effort from everyone, BMW Motorsport, BMW Team RLL, Dunlop and Crowne Plaza. This championship was not just won by me and Dirk. It was won by the entire program over the course of three years. This BMW is the coolest and most comfortable racing car I have ever driven. I simply had the greatest year of my career.”

Andy Priaulx: “I raced at Sebring where this successful season began, so it was another great experience coming over here and be part of BMW Team RLL once more at the Petit Le Mans. The atmosphere here is as brilliant as the BMW M3 GT. Congratulations to Dirk and Joey for winning the driver’s title and a big thank you to everybody in the team. I enjoyed the weekend very much.”

Dirk Werner: “It is a bit of a pity that we lost a second place finish, but we’ve been able to secure the manufacturer’s title for BMW with a podium. It was a very tough race. As they did the entire season, the team helped us with great pit stops to gain positions in the race. The team did an absolutely fantastic job.”

Bill Auberlen: “Petit Le Mans is always very tough race. Dirk did an absolutely great job in the final stint to keep us on the podium. I am very proud to be part of this team and continue to add to BMW’s trophy case. Congratulations to Dirk and Joey for winning the driver’s title.”

Augusto Farfus: “It is always great to race in America. The event here at Road Atlanta is amazing. I would compare it to a small Nürburgring with regards to both the racetrack and the atmosphere. There are a lot of BMW fans. The spectators are very close to the circuit and we can see them waving and cheering. This season has been very successful for BMW, and I am proud that I was given another chance racing in the ALMS with such great teammates.”

This completes an extremely successful motorsport season in the USA for BMW. On September 17th, TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing, with Felix Sabates drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas behind the wheel of a BMW Riley, secured the drivers’ title in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sport Car Series at the EMCO Gears Classic in Lexington/Ohio. For the pair in the TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing BMW number 01, this was the second consecutive title with BMW Power. Paul Dalla Lana of the Turner Motorsport team also had reason to be happy. He drove a BMW M3 to the drivers’ title in the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand Sport Class – also at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Turner Motorsport team can also celebrate the team title, while the championships also went to BMW for a second consecutive year in the engine and manufacturer competitions.