Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sato Set Fourth Fastest Lap of Honda-Powered Drivers at Sebring Open Test; Ranked 10th Over Four Days

IZOD IndyCar Series Spring Training – Sebring International Racing, Sebring, Florida

TESTING NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, March 9, 2012

TAKUMA SATO SET THE FOURTH FASTEST TIME OF HONDA-POWERED DRIVERS AT THE INDYCAR SERIES OPEN TEST AT SEBRING; RANKED 10TH OVER FOUR DAY TEST

FASTEST:      Scott Dixon     51.7932 (set in Session 5)      144 laps

10th:                Takuma Sato  52:3841 (set in Session 7)      203 laps          

Takuma Sato, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was another good day. The wind stayed calm and the track condition was quite consistent so we were able to evaluate various setups and collected good data. It was limited what you could do with one car, but we achieved a good number of laps and the test went very smoothly so it was productive. I think we were getting to understand this car well over the course of these pre-season tests and Sebring, where it's kind of a street-like track, gave us certainly good preparation for St. Pete. I enjoyed working with everyone at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.  The boys did a good job so I am really looking forward to going to our first race in two weeks time.”

  • FAST FACTS: Was his third test with RLL at Sebring. Tested for one day in mid-December with RLL in the Honda test car. Returned here on February 23-24 and set the fastest and second fastest lap time (respectively)…Will be Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar after having competed with KV Racing Technology in 2010-11…In 34 starts in 2010-2011, has 17 career top-10 starting spots including four top-five starts and two poles (Edmonton and Iowa 2011).   He has earned eight top-10 finishes including three top-five spots (fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifth at Texas and St. Petersburg in 2011).  He has led a total of 61 laps.

NEXT UP:  The team will return to Indianapolis and prepare for the IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg which will be take place March 25 and will be televised live on ABC at 12:30 PM ET.

 

Formula One Veteran Gerry Hughes Joins Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; Will Work as Race Engineer for Sato

SEBRING, Fla. (March 9, 2012) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that Gerry Hughes has joined the team and will be the race engineer for Takuma Sato in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Hughes has 24 years of trackside engineering experience in series such as Formula One, GP2, A1GP, British Touring Cars, Formula 3 and Opel Lotus. The move reunites Hughes with team co-owner Bobby Rahal, Technical Director Jay O’Connell and driver Sato. 

“Gerry worked for me when I was at Jaguar Formula One and he worked with our technical director Jay O’Connell as well.” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “I have known Gerry since 2000 and we have always stayed in touch. He went on to bigger and better things and was involved with Takuma at Super Aguri in F1 and when Honda stopped that program they were a bit adrift.  He was looking at making the move to come to the United States long term and so we talked. It is particularly good timing because, since he had worked with Takuma, there was a comfort level there and a level of communication that usually takes time to build up between two people and in this case it is already established.  For Takuma its good to have someone he is familiar with and had confidence in and for us, Gerry is a long term team member for us. He has a lot of experience in a lot of different formulas and that will be of value to us as a team.”

Hughes began his career in racing as a design engineer at Lola Cars Ltd. and over the past 24 years he has held key roles at esteemed organizations such as Williams Touring Car Engineering, Prodrive, Jaguar F1, Jordan Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing, Super Aguri F1, A1GP Team Ireland, Lola Formula One and was most recently at Cosworth where he held the title of Formula 1 Track Support Manager and played a key role in the marquee’s successful return to F1 in 2010. He has held various titles such as head of engineering, head of research and development, chief race engineer and track support manager.  

“I would like to thank Bobby for the opportunity to come here and join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for what in essence is a new chapter for IndyCar in America with the new racing package,” said Gerry Hughes.  “After 12 years in Formula One it is a new challenge for me. I have had a good experience at the Sebring test and have learned a great deal.  I think the team is finding its feet learning more about the new car as all the teams are and I feel that we will be competitive going into the first race in two weeks time.”

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing returns to full-time IZOD IndyCar Series competition in 2012 for the first time since 2008. That season saw Ryan Hunter-Reay finish seventh in the final series standings, marking the 11th consecutive year that a RLL driver finished the year in the top-10 in driver points. The winners of the 1992 IndyCar championship as well as the 2004 Indianapolis 500, RLL Indy cars have finished in the top 10 in more than half of its 587 career series starts.

ABOUT GERRY HUGHES…

Hughes’ career began with a Masters of Science degree at Cranfield University in 1994. He joined Lola Cars Ltd. as a design engineer in 1994 and later moved to Williams Touring Car Engineering Ltd from 1996-1999 and was race engineer to Jason Plato and 1997 champion Alain Menu. In 1999 he was at Prodrive and worked with the championship-winning Ford Team Mondeo operation before being transferred to Ford’s Jaguar F1 program in the summer of 2000 where he was race engineer for Eddie Irvine.  Bobby Rahal was Team Principal of the program at the time. Hughes then joined Jordan Grand Prix in 2003 as head of race and test engineering until the team was sold to Midland. In 2005, after a brief stint at Red Bull Racing, he joined Honda-powered Super Aguri as chief race engineer and head of research and development and worked with Takuma Sato. When Honda departed F1, Hughes became the technical director of the championship-winning A1GP Team Ireland from 2008-2009.  He was then offered the position of head of engineering for the Lola F1 team in 2009 and concentrated his efforts on special projects. Most recently, Hughes was fundamental to the success of Cosworth’s return to F1 in the role of Formula 1 Track Support Manager, a title he held since 2009 and until he joined Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

- RLL -

 

Sato Pleased With Progress on Day 1 of Sebring Open Test

IZOD IndyCar Series Spring Training – Sebring International Racing, Sebring, Florida

TESTING NOTES/QUOTES – Thursday, March 8, 2011

TAKUMA SATO IS PLEASED WITH PROGRESS ON DAY 1 OF INDYCAR SERIES OPEN TEST AT SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

FASTEST:             Scott Dixon (morning session)                                     51.7932

5th:                         Takuma Sato (afternoon session; 86 laps total)           52:4111

Takuma Sato, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “We had a small issue this morning and also at the end of the day when we had a failure of a component but overall it was good.  We evaluated quite a few different setups and collected good data so we are able to understand the car more and more. I look forward to continuing to do some more work tomorrow.”

  • FAST FACTS: Will be his third test with RLL at Sebring. Tested for one day in mid-December with RLL in the Honda test car. Returned here on February 23-24 and set the fastest and second fastest lap time (respectively)…Will be Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar after having competed with KV Racing Technology in 2010-11…In 34 starts in 2010-2011, has 17 career top-10 starting spots including four top-five starts and two poles ( Edmonton and Iowa 2011).   He has earned eight top-10 finishes including three top-five spots (fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifth at Texas and St. Petersburg in 2011).  He has led a total of 61 laps.

Jay O’Connell, Technical Director:  “The test is going okay. We have tried to get the car closer to the race specification especially with the driver ballast just coming out last week.  We have the car at a race weight which is important and we focused more on St. Pete than Sebring this time.  We tried to run the car softer in an attempt to get the car ready for the softer platform we will need at St. Pete. We are pleased with the pace today; certainly it was a good start. We are going to make some more good changes and try to find more speed tomorrow.”

NEXT UP:  Testing will resume tomorrow from 9-5 PM ET for Group 2.   The IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be take place March 25 and will be televised live on ABC at 12:30 PM ET.

 

 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Signs Luca Filippi To Drive Second Entry Beginning With Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS (March 6, 2012) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that they have signed 2011 GP2 runner-up Luca Filippi to drive their No. 30 Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the remainder of the 2012 season beginning with the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.  Filippi will team with Takuma Sato, whom he met while the two were testing Honda-powered Formula One cars.

“It's a great feeling to be part of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said Luca Filippi. “Being a racing driver and a big motorsport fan too, it's amazing to have such a legend as Bobby Rahal as team owner. I'm sure he will help me a lot with my Indy car experience and help me learn all the different dynamics that I will find in my very first American open wheel racing season quickly.”

Filippi, a 26-year-old from the northwestern town of Savigliano, Italy, spent the previous six seasons in the GP2 series which is the European equivalent of the Firestone Indy Lights series and was runner-up to champion Romain Grosjean with three wins.  Filippi was also a test driver for Honda in Formula One from 2007 until December 2008 when the manufacturer withdrew from the sport. 

“Having followed GP2 the last several years, I have watched Luca’s progress with interest,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal.  “Despite not always having the best equipment, it was clear he had the ability to not only run competitively but to also win races.  Having gotten to know him over the last eight months, he has also shown that in addition to being able to win, he would represent Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in a first class manner.  We are very excited to begin a long and successful relationship with him.”

“The IndyCar Series is really popular in Italy and my becoming an Indy car racing driver is a dream come true,” added Filippi.  “After finishing second in the GP2 series last year in a Dallara car, I am looking forward to see how this car is to drive.  I know it will be different but when I sat in the cockpit to make the seat I felt really comfortable; everything felt really familiar to me. This year everything is going to change for everybody in the series because of the new car and I think it is the best moment for a rookie to enter the championship.”

Filippi began racing karts in Italy as an eight-year-old and progressed through the ranks until he won a driver-search contest in 2002 that landed him a season in the Mazda MX-5 Cup series. From there he competed in the Formula Renault Championship in 2003 and 2004, with a third place overall finish in 2004. He then won the Italian Formula 3000 series title in 2005 which resulted in being invited to test a Formula One car for the first time with Minardi that winter. To gain valuable racing experience, he competed in the GT2 series from 2006-2011 and was also a Honda test driver for their F1 program beginning in 2007.  After winning poles and races in Europe, Filippi is looking forward to moving to the top-level of open wheel racing in North America and reuniting with Honda.

“Racing for a Honda-powered team is fantastic because I feel like I am restarting from where we ended a few years ago when I was the Honda F1 test driver until the end of the Honda F1 project,” said Filippi. “I'm happy we will work together again and now we both have a new challenge, new motivation and I just can't wait to be at the wheel.  I know Takuma from those days.  We respect each other and we both think that working together can help us and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing achieve our goals.”

Prior to making his IndyCar Series debut at the Indianapolis 500, it is expected that Filippi will test at a yet-to-be-determined location prior to Rookie Orientation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Other program details will be announced at a later date.

RLL returns to full-time IZOD IndyCar Series competition in 2012 for the first time since 2008. That season saw Ryan Hunter-Reay finish seventh in the final series standings, marking the 11th consecutive year that a RLL driver finished the year in the top-10 in driver points. The winners of the 1992 IndyCar championship as well as the 2004 Indianapolis 500, RLL Indy cars have finished in the top 10 in more than half of its 587 career series starts.

- RLL -