Monthly Archives: April 2012

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Sato Earned His Best Series Finish of Third in the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Nestlé – Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, April 29, 2012



TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It is a fantastic feeling to finish third. It was an eventful race starting from the back of the grid.  I needed to fight back so hard to get the positions back.  The first part of the race was really hard, not necessarily on the overtaking but to follow the strategy, and at one stage we had a pit speed penalty but we gradually moved up.  One-by-one we overtook cars which was very exciting.  In the end, the restart got me into a great place; it was very exciting for me. There is always opportunity on a restart but you never know until you hit the brake because there is no plan basically.  When Helio and Dario were in front of me, two wide, initially I thought there was no chance but when I saw their braking point was earlier than I expected I saw a little opportunity to dive inside. I was confident that I would make the corner so I was very excited. Finally, after a difficult weekend, it is a relief to get this result and I am really pleased to bring the team a third place and see the first checkered flag of the season. It was a great day.”


FAST FACTS: After starting 25th, Sato overtook four cars on the opening lap but was challenged by a pit speed penalty after his first stop that dropped him to the back again.  Once a caution came out the effect was negated.  Later he jumped from 19th to 11th on a restart that spun Dario Franchitti around and involved many cars.  After he made his second stop, he came out in 16th place and began to pass cars one at a time. He worked his way up to second place before his final pit stop on green Lap 54 of 75 and returned to the track in 12th and worked his way forward as others pitted.  On the restart with seven laps to go, he dashed on the inside and passed the cars of Franchitti and Helio Castroneves in Turn 1 for third place. Behind him, there was another multi-car accident that brought out the final caution. It retuned to green on Lap 71 and he held the position to earn his best series finish of third place… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led two of the first three races but failed to finish due to mechanical failure (St. Pete & Barber) and “avoidable contact” by Hunter-Reay (Long Beach) on the final lap en route to a career best finish of third… Moved from a 16th-place rank in series points to seventh with 83.

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engineer for Sato:  (On the move Sato made for third:) “That move was classic Takuma in the fact that he never gives up.  I think he was absolutely and utterly on the limit going into Turn 1 but he made it stick so fair play to him.  Going into the race this afternoon was always going to be difficult and we needed an element of luck to make any progress from starting 25th on the grid after the engine failure we had yesterday.  He drove a sensible race although we had a pit speed penalty which relegated us back to 26th and we had to do it all over again.  To finish in third place after starting at the back of the grid shows that we had a competitive car and he drove a sensible race.  We followed a classic three-stop strategy and were helped by the yellows and managed to achieve our goal of finishing the race first and foremost and also doing so with a podium.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT SAO PAULO … This marked the FIRST time for RLL to compete in the Indy car race in Sao Paulo and sixth overall in Brazil.  Team Rahal competed in CART-sanctioned events in Rio de Janeiro from 1996-2000 with Bobby Rahal (1996-1998), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-00), and Kenny Brack (2000).  The best start for the team on the 1.86-mile, D-shaped oval in Rio was third by Rahal in 1997. The team’s best finish in Brazil is fourth, by Herta (1998) and Papis (1999). Over the 10 entries between 1996-00, the team had four top-five and eight top-10 starts as well as two top-five and seven top-10 finishes. (chart available) 

NEXT UP:  The team will return to the United States tonight and begin preparation for the Indianapolis 500. Michel Jourdain will be on track on Thursday, May 10 for refresher laps during Rookie Orientation.  Opening Day for the Indy 500 is Saturday, May 11.  RLL won the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and team owner Bobby Rahal won the 1986 Indy 500. The team led the closing laps of the 2011 race with Bertrand Baguette but had to pit for fuel with a few laps to go.

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Sato Was Unable to Make a Qualifying Attempt For the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 Due to Engine Change; Will Start 26th

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Nestlé – Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 28, 2012


POLE: Will Power                   1:21.4045 / 122.2611 mph      (set in Round 3)

26th:    Takuma Sato              No time / No speed                

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It wasn’t a good day for us unfortunately. The first practice session was cut short because the engineers weren’t happy about some parameters and we had to stop early to check the gearbox.  Everything ended up okay but the session was cut short which didn’t help us in terms of setting up the car. And then in the second practice I only ran a few laps before we had an engine problem which led to us not being able to take part in qualifying because of the amount of time it took to change the engine. The long straight with heavy braking here means you can overtake but starting from the back it is going to be tough. We will fight back to gain positions tomorrow and hopefully we will have a strong package.  We will see how the car will be in the warm-up tomorrow.  I don’t mind whether it is a dry race or a wet race. To go from the back of the grid in the wet would be quite difficult in terms of visibility but there is more of a chance to go forward. In a dry race, realistically it would be very difficult to get a top result but nothing is impossible. It will be an exciting race for sure.”


FAST FACTS: Will make his third start at this track. He qualified 10th for the 2010 and 2011 races and his best finish of eighth place came in 2011 after he led 23 laps in the rain-soaked, and then-postponed event – both for KV Racing Technology.  He retired in 22nd in 2010 after contact. In the 2011 race, Sato came up 10 minutes short of potentially claiming his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory. The race was postponed from Sunday due to poor visibility caused by persistent rain and approaching dusk. On Monday, the race resumed from Lap 15-on with a time limit but the rain continued as well.  Sato led Laps 26-48 in the timed race that ended after Lap 55. Had a caution flag come out while Sato was leading, he may have been able to stretch his fuel and claim victory but the race stayed green and he was forced to pit on Lap 48 of what became a 55-lap race and finished eighth, which is his best series finish to date here… Sato competed in Formula One races in Brazil five times (2002, 2004-2007) with a best start and finish of sixth place – both in 2004 for BAR-Honda… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led two of the first three races but failed to finish due to mechanical failure (St. Pete & Barber) and “avoidable contact” by Hunter-Reay (Long Beach) on the final lap en route to a career best finish of third… Is ranked 16th in series points with 48.

TOM ANDERSON, Managing Director Motorsport Operations:  “We are obviously not in the position we wanted to be in for the start of tomorrow’s race. We had an engine problem in the second session and a little bit of a transmission problem in the first session so it has been a difficult day mechanically for us.  When it is only a two day event it is obviously not the scenario you want for the driver or engineers.  Fortunately Takuma has been here two years and knows the track well. The engineers are doing a great job with what little information we have been able to give them. In one way we are fortunate that this problem was rectified by taking parts from the spare car and Honda is giving us a fresh engine so we are hoping for a good race result tomorrow. Starting at the back to me isn’t that critical if you are outside the top-10. I think it gives more opportunity with strategy. There are some big windows here and hopefully the race will go the distance with some good weather which hasn’t happened the past two years here.  The fans deserve a full distance race and hopefully we can have that tomorrow. In all probability it will be a three stop race with big windows and Bobby will have an opportunity to make some strategic decisions and put us up front tomorrow.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT SAO PAULO … This will mark the FIRST time for RLL to compete in the Indy car race in Sao Paulo and sixth overall in Brazil.  Team Rahal competed in CART-sanctioned events in Rio de Janeiro from 1996-2000 with Bobby Rahal (1996-1998), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-00), and Kenny Brack (2000).  The best start for the team on the 1.86-mile, D-shaped oval in Rio was third by Rahal in 1997. The team’s best finish in Brazil is fourth, by Herta (1998) and Papis (1999). Over the 10 entries between 1996-00, the team had four top-five and eight top-10 starts as well as two top-five and seven top-10 finishes. (chart available) 

NEXT UP:  Morning- warm-up will take place tomorrow from 8:30-9:00 a.m. local time and the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 will air on NBC Sports Network at 11 a.m. ET Sunday, April 29.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from

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Michel Jourdain Jr. Returns to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the 2012 Indy 500; Office Depot Mexico to Sponsor Entry

INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2012) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that Michel Jourdain Jr., who brought the team Indy car wins in Montreal and Milwaukee Champ Car World Series races in 2003, will return to the team for the 2012 Indianapolis 500. Jourdain’s No. 30 Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry will be sponsored by Office Depot Mexico with associate sponsorship from Roshfrans, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi.

“I am extremely happy about this new opportunity,” said Michel Jourdain, 35.  “My best years professionally came with Bobby Rahal.  I have been working out harder than ever to make sure I am as fit as possible. I know it is a huge challenge, to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway after so long and with this type of car, but I hope that I will feel at home in a few days.  For me, this is not only a professional project, it is also personal, and having Office Depot Mexico, their suppliers and Roshfrans supporting me like they did 10 years ago means a lot to me. This shows that we did a good job for them.”

Office Depot Mexico operates in seven countries including Mexico, Central America and Columbia. By the end of April the company will operate 250 locations and has annual sales of approximately $1 billion USD.

“We are very excited about having Michel (Jourdain) represent us in the most important race in the world,” said Arturo Hernández Martínez, Subdirector de Mercadotecnia, Office Depot® de México.

Jourdain, who is from Mexico City, returns to open-wheel competition for the first time since 2004. He became the youngest driver to start a Champ Car race to date when he drove at Long Beach in 1996 at the age of 19 years, six months and 12 days old. He made 152 starts in CART and Champ Car from 1996-2004 plus three Indy Racing League starts, including the 1996 Indy 500 where he qualified eighth and finished 13th and the 1996 race in Las Vegas where he finished second in a 28-car field.  He won races in Montreal and Milwaukee in 2003 with Team Rahal and moved to RuSPORT for 2004 when Team Rahal focused solely on the Indy Racing League that season.  With support from Ford Motor Company, he moved to NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from 2005-2008 and also competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2006. Since then, he competed in various rally and sports car series.

“I am pleased to have Michel back with the team,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal.  “When we were last together we had a lot of success and I don’t see any reason why we can’t continue that.  It is also good to represent Office Depot again and their many associate sponsors that are making this happen.  We are really pleased for Michel and happy to be a part of this.”

“I have only competed in the Indy 500 once in 1996, but you can always see that this race is the best,” added Jourdain.  “Bobby and I spoke in Las Vegas, but also I came to the new shop in Indy the first days of January.   I saw in Bobby a big commitment to get back to the top in Indy car racing.  With the hiring of Tom Anderson and the very strong engineering group, I feel this is the best chance for me to come back strong. Everybody in the team knows that it will take some time for me to readapt to this type of cars and racing, but with the showings Takuma (Sato) had in the beginning of the season and the team’s history at the Indy 500, I know we can have a strong month of May.”

Jourdain will turn his first laps in the new Honda-powered DW12 on Thursday, May 10 during the Rookie Orientation Program.  Although he will be classified as a veteran, the team will be allowed to participate in a “refresher” course.  Opening Day for the 96thRunning of the Indianapolis 500 is Saturday, May 12.

In three IZOD IndyCar Series races so far in 2012, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has led three times for a total of 27 laps with Takuma Sato with a best finish of eight place in Long Beach.  The team won the 1992 IndyCar championship as well as the 2004 Indianapolis 500 from pole.  RLL Indy cars have finished in the top 10 in more than half of its 590 career series starts.

About Office Depot Mexico

Office Depot Mexico operates in seven countries including Mexico, Central America and Columbia. By the end of April the company will operate 250 locations and has annual sales of approximately $1 billion USD.

About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing…

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) is based in Hilliard, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. The team has been competing since 1992 and has earned a total of 20 open-wheel wins with drivers such as Bobby Rahal, Bryan Herta, Max Papis, Kenny Brack, Jimmy Vasser, Michel Jourdain Jr., Buddy Rice and Ryan Hunter-Reay. It is their first full season of Indy car competition since 2008.


– RLL –




Sato Hopes to Return to the Lead in Brazil; RLL to Compete in First Sao Paulo Race and Sixth in Brazil

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 21st Season
Pre-Race Notes
Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Nestlé – Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Round 4 of 16 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series

DATE:                                         Saturday – Sunday, April 28-29, 2012

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     6:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network April 28; Live on the IMS Radio Network and (timing & scoring)

SPECIAL BROADCAST:           “INDYCAR 36” will air on NBC Sports Network at 10:30 a.m. ET April 29

RACE BROADCAST:                 Live on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network

RADIO BROADCAST:               The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 & Sirius channel 212

TRACK LAYOUT:                      2.6-mile, 11-turn street course

RACE LENGTH:                        75 laps / 195 miles 

2011 WINNER:                          Will Power

2011 POLESITTER:                  Will Power (1:21.8958; 111.478 mph)


STREET COURSE START:      Pole at Edmonton 2011


STREET COURSE FINISH:       4th at Mid-Ohio 2011

SATO IN SAO PAULO:              Highest start is 10th (2010 & 2011) and highest finish is 8th in 2011 after leading 23 laps; third race here


FINISH AT SAO PAULO:           First race here; sixth race in Brazil after races in Rio de Janeiro from 1996-2000


The Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Nestlé marks Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s first time to compete on the Streets of São Paulo.  Previously the team competed in five CART-sanctioned events in Rio de Janeiro from 1996-2000 with Bobby Rahal (1996-1998), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-00), and Kenny Brack (2000).  The best start for the team on the 1.86-mile, D-shaped oval in Rio was third by Rahal in 1997. The team’s best finish in Brazil is fourth, by Herta (1998) and Papis (1999). Over the 10 entries between 1996-00, the team had four top-five and eight top-10 starts as well as two top-five and seven top-10 finishes (chart available). 

The 2012 event will mark Takuma Sato’s third IndyCar Series race here and ninth overall in the country of Brazil.  Sato competed in Formula One races in Brazil at Interlagos five times (2002, 2004-2007) with a best start and finish of sixth place – both in 2004 for BAR-Honda. In the 2011 IndyCar Series race, Sato came up 10 minutes short of potentially claiming his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory. The race was postponed from Sunday due to poor visibility caused by persistent rain and approaching dusk. On Monday, the race resumed from Lap 15-on with a time limit but the rain continued as well.  Sato led Laps 26-48 in the timed race that ended after Lap 55. Had a caution flag come out while Sato was leading, he may have been able to stretch his fuel and claim victory but the race stayed green and he was forced to pit on Lap 48 of what became a 55-lap race and finished eighth, which is his best series finish to date here.
“The first year was my debut race in the IndyCar Series and it was good to start from the top-10,” recalled Sato. “However, sadly, it ended too soon immediately; after the start so I wasn't really able to race. The second year was a great memory. It was my first-ever rain race in my IndyCar career but I had great confidence about that and was able to move up the field by overtaking several cars and I led a lot of the race. That was extremely exciting. Unfortunately though, we made a mistake on strategy and I had to come in for a splash of fuel a few laps from the end so we couldn't achieve what we wanted but it was encouraging.”

In three IZOD IndyCar Series races to date, Sato has led two of the three events.  He led the St. Petersburg season-opening race twice and led once at Round 3 in Long Beach for a total of 27 laps. Unfortunately he has yet to finish an event after succumbing to mechanical failure in St. Petersburg and BarberMotorsportsPark and was hit on the final lap in Long Beach while en route to his best series finish of third place. He was scored in eighth place. He has a total of 48 points and is ranked 16th in series standings after three of 16 events.

Sato’s race engineer Gerry Hughes joined the team prior to the start of the season and 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 reunited Hughes with team co-owner Bobby Rahal, technical director Jay O’Connell and driver Sato.  It is his first season in the IndyCar Series as well as the first time for the team to compete on the street course in Sao Paulo, an event that is in its third year on the series schedule. Hughes discusses the process to create a baseline setup for the team’s first event at the track.
“Preparing for the unknown is always a challenge, especially when a team has no historical data on which to draw. Having been in this situation before both in Formula One and other formulae, there are a number of key things that I look for, and without giving too much away, you find yourself looking for information across a range of information portals, which may include other formulae that have raced at the circuit, from which you can compare data or even, dare I say it — the internet. I have in the past developed circuit simulations, for a number of circuits that we had never visited and had absolutely no information for, from Google Earth – F1 purists would be horrified!”

“Well, in the simplest forms, the IndyCar IRIS website gives one a huge amount of information about any circuit that one has not visited. Even getting an impression of the EOS (end of straight) and VMax (top speeds), for a given circuit gives one a heads-up on the gearing in top gear of sixth for a given configuration and all of this is valuable information.”

“I think the Sao Paulo street course is very unique; it has got one of the longest and bumpiest straights followed by such a tight hairpin which requires heavy braking.  The complexes after the second straight are quite narrow and the car needs good traction as well as the ability to quickly change direction so it's challenging.”

“The long straight at the Sao Paulo Street Circuit will invariably drive set-ups towards lower downforce/drag configurations but overall lap time, as always, will be very driven by the balance between grip versus downforce and the effect that the latter has on tire performance for a given set of circuit conditions.”

“Saturday will be a very busy day for everyone for sure,” said Sato. “The mechanics have to work the whole day as there are both practice sessions and qualifying so we have to make sure we won't have any trouble. Also, the engineers won't have enough time to go through all the details of data and analysis so we need to make very quick decisions.  As a driver, I don't mind driving the whole day!”
“Going in to any weekend where there is absolutely no historical data or team experience of a particular circuit is, I suppose, a bit of a daunting experience and is somewhat compounded by a two-day race weekend,” added Hughes. “However, as all of these events and circuits are all new to me, I suppose that my perspective is somewhat different from others in the team. My experiences of the weather in Sao Paulo have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous!”

“It's just fantastic. Brazil has a huge racing history and so many of the greatest drivers are Brazilian. Fans know about racing and I feel tremendous passion from them.
“I never had a chance to meet him (Senna) but I saw him racing when I was 10 years old and that day my dream (of racing) really started. His speed, the way he raced, his attitude and everything was all about winning the race.  I like his personality as well so he is my hero even today.”

“Yes, I do get jet lagged but I am just used to it. After Long Beach, I was in Monaco four days, Korea two days, back in Monaco one night and then I came to Brazil.  I spent four nights in an airplane. There is not a secret to dealing with jetlag but to try to stay awake in daytime then you can sleep at night!”

“IndyCar is a very different series to that of Formula One, where the latter has become predominantly a 'flyaway' race series and the numbers of races actually held in Europe have dwindled to only 11 out of the 20 races being held in 2012. Flyaway race events are fun but there is an art to packaging team equipment and ensuring that the equipment being transported is fundamental to the operation of the team and that the culture of 'we should take just in case' is carefully managed. I am not sure of the costs involved in IndyCar but in Formula One currently every 1.0 kgs (2.2 Lbs) of equipment being transported costs approximately $15.00 (both outbound and return), so the costs quickly mount up, and those guys are transporting up to 40,000 kgs of equipment!”

“The very first driver that I worked with in Formula One came from Sao Paulo and so for me, it is a very special place. Although we will not be racing on the Interlagos Circuit, I will enjoy the experience and, as it will be in excess of my 13th visit to the country, I am no stranger to the place or its fine array of meat restaurants!”



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