Monthly Archives: April 2012

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

 

SATO EARNED HIS BEST SERIES FINISH OF THIRD IN THE ITAIPAVA SAO PAULO INDY 300
 

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.

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

SATO WAS UNABLE TO MAKE A QUALIFYING ATTEMPT FOR THE ITAIPAVA SAO PAULO INDY 300 DUE TO AN ENGINE CHANGE AND WILL START 26TH

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 www.indycar.com

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

www.indycar.com (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)

SATO’S HIGHEST ROAD/

STREET COURSE START:      Pole at Edmonton 2011

SATO’S HIGHEST ROAD/

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

RLL’S TOP START/

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


NEWS & NOTES:

FIRST INDY CAR RACE FOR RLL IN SAO PAULO; SIXTH IN BRAZIL
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). 

SATO’S NEAR WIN IN THE 2011 BRAZIL INDYCAR RACE
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.”

SATO IN 2012 – HAS LED TWO OF T HREE EVENTS
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 Barber Motorsports Park 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.

HUGHES ON CREATING A BASELINE SETUP FOR THE TEAM'S FIRST BRAZIL STREET RACE
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!”

HUGHES ON THE TYPE OF DATA ACCESSED
“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.”

SATO ON THE 2.6-MILE, 11-TURN STREET COURSE
“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.”

HUGHES ON THE IMPACT OF THE LONGEST STRAIGHTAWAY OF THE SEASON
“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.”

SATO AND HUGHES ON THE CHALLENGING, SHORTER TWO-DAY FORMAT AND WEATHER LIMITATIONS
“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!”

SATO ON THE BRAZILIAN FANS AND HIS DREAM OF RACING BEING ENCOURAGED BY SENNA
“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.”

SATO ON JETLAG – AND HIS 20k+ AIR MILES SINCE THE LAST RACE
“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!”

HUGHES ON THE CHALLENGES OF “FLY-AWAY” (CARGO) RACES
“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!”

HUGHES ON HIS PREVIOUS RACES IN BRAZIL
“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!”

 

-RLL-

Sato Led 16 Laps in the Toyota GP of Long Beach and Was Third on the Final Lap When “Avoidable Contact” by Hunter-Reay Dropped Him to Eighth

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, April 15, 2012

SATO LED 16 LAPS OF THE TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH AND WAS THIRD ON THE FINAL LAP WHEN “AVOIDABLE CONTACT” BY HUNTER-REAY DROPPED HIM TO EIGHTH

 

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I haven’t seen the checkered flag yet this season. It was a very exciting race; right from the start — a hell of a race.  We started from the primary Firestone tires and I was surrounded by drivers on alternate tires and it was a very hard situation for us but I kept the position. On the restart, I was overtaking and gained a position and when I was on the alternate tires I was driving like crazy; passing Will Power and others and then I led the race.  On the last stint we had to work on the fuel mileage and on the very last lap Ryan Hunter-Reay basically took me out.  There was not enough depth on his overtaking maneuver.  He had a chance for the last few corners so it’s very disappointing to finish the race this way.  Again we showed good performance and we will carry this good momentum to Brazil.”

 

FAST FACTS: Made his third start at this track and almost bettered his series-best finish of fourth place at Mid-Ohio (2010). Due to series penalties for unapproved engine changes, he started sixth after qualifying 13th.  By Lap 12 of the 85-lap race he had moved into third place and took the lead on Lap 20 when a good portion of the field, including two cars ahead, pit under caution. After his first stop on Lap 30, he passed eventual winner Will Power and moved up from 12th place into third by Lap 41.  He reclaimed the lead on Lap 48 and held it until the second pit stop on Lap 56.  He was in third place when Power passed him and was later passed by eventual second place finisher Simon Pagenaud. Once the field made their final stops, he was in third place and on the final lap, Ryan Hunter-Reay hit Sato’s left rear in Turn 8 and Sato stopped on course.  He was scored with an eighth place finish after being restarted because the majority of the field was stuck behind a multi-car crash that made the hairpin impassable.  Series officials deemed Hunter-Reay’s contact “avoidable” and gave him a 30 –second penalty which dropped him from third to sixth… Sato’s previous best start here was 19th and previous best finish was 18th – both for KV Racing Technology in 2010… His best road/street course qualifying was pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is fourth at Mid-Ohio which is also his best overall career IndyCar finish… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led the season-opener in St. Pete two times for a total of 11 laps. In total, he made eight passes on the start/restarts and during the race. He pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish… Also made four passes at Barber but retired with mechanical failure… 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).  Led a total of 61 laps from 2010-11… Sato is ranked 16th in the 2012 IndyCar Series standings with a total of 48 points.


BOBBY RAHAL, team co-owner: “I am very disappointed for Takuma; he deserved better. I was a tough weekend for the crew with missing a full day on Friday with new cars. I was really pleased with the job Takuma and the crew did.  The engineering group of Gerry (Hughes), Jay (O’Connell) and Wayne (Gross) are really working well together on the stand.  We just need some good luck because, right now we aren’t getting it.  But at least we are running up front and at least we are competitive. That’s the biggest thing; at least we are competing at the front of the grid. It will come.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT LONG BEACH It was the team’s 13th Indy car race in Long Beach and FIRST for RLL to compete in the Indy car race here since 2003 when Michel Jourdain, Jr. won pole, led a race high 48 laps and was in the lead when his car stuck in gear on his final stop with seven laps to go and ultimately retired in 15th place.  In total, the team won three poles (Bryan Herta 1998, Jimmy Vasser 2002, Michel Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Kenny Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place three times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002) and earned five podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999).

RLL IS ONLY TEAM TO COMPETE IN LONG BEACH ICS/ALMS “DOUBLEHEADER”… This weekend’s race marked the first time for the team to compete in two series on the same weekend in almost five years.  RLL’s ALMS and Indy car teams last competed at the same venue on September 1-2, 2007 at Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle.  BMW Team RLL fields two BMW M3’s for drivers Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Bill Auberlen. In four years of competing in Long Beach, BMW Team RLL has finished third in 2009 and 2010 and won in 2011 with Hand and Dirk Müller and finished second yesterday (Hand / Dirk Müller).

NEXT UP:  The series will take next weekend off as the race equipment will be packed and shipped via air cargo to Sao Paulo, Brazil for the Sao Paulo Indy 300.  It will be the first time for the team to compete in Sao Paulo and Sato’s third.  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.

 

BMW Team RLL at Long Beach — Four Years Four Podiums

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 14, 2012… With a second place GT class finish by the No. 56 BMW Team RLL M3 GT in today’s American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race, BMW is tied for the manufacturer’s point lead. The second podium of the young ALMS season for Joey Hand and Dirk Müller solidifies their lead in the driver’s standings.


The defending GT driver co-champions started the race from the class pole with Hand at the wheel of the No. 56 BMW M3 GT. Hand led the race for the opening 16 laps until a prototype ran into him causing a puncture of the right rear tire. Hand pitted for fuel and four new tires, returning to the race in the seventh position. The races only caution period brought him back to the pits on lap 41 where Bobby Rahal made a bold strategic move to not change tires and jump the field in the pits to send the BMW Motorsport driver out in the lead. Müller lost the lead, but drove a strong stint to extend BMW Team RLL’s Long Beach podium streak to four years.

Teammates Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller, driving the No. 55 M3 GT, finished out of the points in11th. Müller, making his first start at Long Beach, was the victim of a first lap accident that forced him to the pits for lengthy repairs to replace the radiator. He returned 13 laps down to the leaders, but put his head down, setting some of the fastest laps of that part of the race. He handed off to Auberlen during the race’s only caution period and the Californian, who podiumed here in both 2009 and 2010, did not disappoint his home race fans as he circulated at a very fast pace until the checkered flag.

“A great day for Dunlop,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “We double-stinted the tires at Sebring and that’s what got us the win. Here we asked for the same thing. There was no question that we had to leap frog the field after being hit and having a flat tire. We didn’t have enough to beat the No. 4 Corvette, but we held everyone else off. We'll take a well deserved second place.”

Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GTWe won the race at Sebring by double stinting tires and we placed here the same way. It says a lot to have that kind of confidence in a tire that not only has the performance, but it will also go the distance. I know I can’t win the Championship again this year, but I really, really want to do my best to help the team, BMW and Dirk repeat.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT “That race was certainly was another mileage test for Dunlop. Bobby and Chris made the right call and it paid off. I knew I had to go a full stint on tires that had already gone 25 laps so I focused on their management – not what was behind me.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT “The No. 55 M3 was a rocket ship today, but you need luck at Long Beach. Traffic got stacked up and Jörg got into it. The radiator was damaged, but after he went back out he was the fastest car on the track. It hurts to know how hard everybody worked and that we had a car that could win, but could not show it.”

Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GTIt’s disappointing that I got trapped in an accident on the second lap. The Corvette braked very hard and I had nowhere to go. We had to change the radiator so we lost many laps. Afterwards the car was still fast. It’s a shame when you have the real potential to win the race and you don’t get any points.”

Round 3 of the 2012 American Le Mans Series will be held at Laguna Seca Raceway on Saturday, May 12.The six-hour race will take the green flag at 1:30 p.m. PDT and will be streamed live on ESPN3.com beginning at 4:15 p.m. ET. The race will be rebroadcast on ESPN2 television at 5:00 p.m. EDT Sunday, May 13. Live timing and scoring will be hosted on americanlemans.com.

About BMW Team RLL:

 

BMW Group In America

BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975.  The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country.  BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes.  The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 339 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 113 MINI passenger car dealers, and 32 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers.  BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.



Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

BMW’s partner, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for nearly two decades, compiling 22 victories, 31 poles and two series championships (1992, 2010) as well as claiming an Indianapolis 500 victory (Buddy Rice in 2004). In 2009 the team joined BMW of North America to campaign the new BMW M3 in the American Le Mans Series. In 2010 the team won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category. In 2011 the team swept all three GT titles – Manufacturer, Team and Driver.

 

#      #      #

Sato Qualified 13th for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; Will Start Sixth Due to Series Penalties to Teams for Unapproved Engine Changes

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 14, 2012
 

SATO QUALIFIED 13TH FOR THE TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH: WILL START SIXTH DUE TO SERIES PENALTIES TO TEAMS FOR UNAPPROVED ENGINE CHANGES

POLE: Ryan Briscoe              1:08.6089        (set in Round 3)
13th:    Takuma Sato              1:09.9000        (set in Round 1)
 

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I am disappointed to not make it through to Round 2. The track was quite slippery in the beginning of qualifying and unfortunately I kissed the wall a little bit and bent the toe-link. Because of the limited time I had to continue and improved the lap time but I couldn’t make it through to Round 2. We will go through the data from today and hopefully have a good package for the race.  We just need a trouble-free race and we can get a good result.”

 

FAST FACTS: Will make his third start at this track. Previously, his best start here was 19th and best finish is 18th – both for KV Racing Technology in 2010… His best road/street course qualifying was pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is fourth at Mid-Ohio which is also his best overall career IndyCar finish… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led the season-opener in St. Pete two times for a total of 11 laps. In total, he made eight passes on the start/restarts and during the race. He pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish… Also made four passes at Barber but retired with mechanical failure… 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).  Led a total of 61 laps from 2010-11.

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engineer for Sato:  “We were seventh quickest in our qualifying round and a tenth-and-a-half (of a second) would have put us in sixth place and we would have managed to go to Round 2 so we are very disappointed given where we felt we could be. And for the first time this year we felt we had the potential to go to Round 2 so it’s been a disappointing afternoon. I suppose the only positive to come out of that is that with all the engine penalties that Chevy-powered cars will have for tomorrow’s final grid, it means that we will be bumped up in the order but it would be nice to get there on our own merits instead of other people’s misfortunes.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT LONG BEACH 2012 will mark the 21st consecutive season of competition for the team and 13th Indy car race in Long Beach… This will mark the FIRST time for RLL to compete in the Indy car race at Long Beach since 2003 when Michel Jourdain, Jr. won pole, led a race high 48 laps and was in the lead when his car stuck in gear on his final stop with seven laps to go and ultimately retired in 15th place.  In total, the team won three poles (Bryan Herta 1998, Jimmy Vasser 2002, Michel Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Kenny Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place three times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002) and earned five podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999).

RLL IS ONLY TEAM TO COMPETE IN LONG BEACH ICS/ALMS “DOUBLEHEADER”… This weekend’s race will mark the first time for the team to compete in two series on the same weekend in almost five years.  RLL’s ALMS and Indy car teams last competed at the same venue on September 1-2, 2007 at Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle.  BMW Team RLL fields two BMW M3’s for drivers Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Bill Auberlen. In three years of competing in Long Beach, BMW Team RLL has finished third in 2009 and 2010 and won in 2011 with Hand and Dirk Müller.  Hand, Dirk Müller and third driver Jonathan Summerton started the 2012 season with a win in the 12 Hours of Sebring — the previous ALMS race.  The team’s other entry, driven by Jörg Müller, Bill Auberlen and Uwe Alzen led the race at one point and finished fourth in the ALMS GT class.

NEXT UP:  Morning- warm-up will take place tomorrow from 9:15-9:45 a.m. PT the 85-lap Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will take the Green Flag at 1:17 p.m.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.  NBC Sports Network will begin their race broadcast at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, April 14.  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, April 15.  “INDYCAR 36” will air on the same network before the race broadcast at 3:00 p.m. ET and will feature team-owner Bobby Rahal’s son, Graham

Sato Set Second Fastest Lap Time in Practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; Rain Limited Amount of Running

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
IZOD IndyCar Series
NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, April 13, 2012

SATO SET SECOND FASTEST LAP TIME IN PRACTICE FOR THE TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH: RAIN LIMITED AMOUNT OF RUNNING

FASTEST:         Marco Andretti  1:17.2298 / 91.737 mph              (11 total laps)
2nd:                  Takuma Sato     1:17.9448 / 90.895 mph              (7 total laps)                  

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It’s a shame for the fans that the weather was unlike the usual Long Beach weather. The first practice session started with damp conditions and we ran very few laps just to see how the initial setup was in terms of ride height and those sorts of things.  We didn’t have a proper run today so all of the work is moving to tomorrow. Hopefully we have a good one-hour session before qualifying. It was too wet for dry tires and too dry for wet tires. I was on a wet patch on dry tires and touched the wall which damaged the front wing but the team fixed it and we will be ready for a good day tomorrow.  We didn’t run in the second practice session because there was no knowledge to be gained in the wet. If the weather forecast was for rain Saturday or Sunday, we might have run but the forecast is for dry weather.”
 

FAST FACTS: Will make his third start at this track. His best start here is 19th and best finish is 18th – both for KV Racing Technology in 2010… His best road/street course qualifying was pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is fourth at Mid-Ohio which is also his best overall career IndyCar finish… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led the season-opener in St. Pete two times for a total of 11 laps. In total, he made eight passes on the start/restarts and during the race. He pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish… Also made four passes at Barber but retired with mechanical failure… 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).  Led a total of 61 laps from 2010-11.

 


TOM ANDERSON, Managing Director of Racing Operations:  “Our focus is on reliability totally and on not beating yourself. In reality, in the first two races we have beat ourselves. We had the issue in St. Petersburg with the fuel and then we had a partner have a problem at Barber so right now the whole focus and the point is to fix things in house and with our partners in order to start running reliably. We have shown the speed and I have complete confidence in Takuma and our engineering department to understand the new Dallara chassis. Right now the issue is about putting a new team and all of the systems in place.  As soon as we stop beating ourselves, the results will come quickly.  The lack of track time due to the rain is more detrimental to us because what we are short of is practice time. Any time you reduce the amount of running during the weekend, you immediately put the advantage to the more experience drivers and teams so this is a disadvantage to us as we return to fulltime competition. When you have weather that is going to change dramatically from the practice day to the race day it is a detriment.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT LONG BEACH 2012 will mark the 21st consecutive season of competition for the team and 13th Indy car race in Long Beach… This will mark the FIRST time for RLL to compete in the Indy car race at Long Beach since 2003 when Michel Jourdain, Jr. won pole, led a race high 48 laps and was in the lead when his car stuck in gear on his final stop with seven laps to go and ultimately retired in 15th place.  In total, the team won three poles (Bryan Herta 1998, Jimmy Vasser 2002, Michel Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Kenny Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place three times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002) and earned five podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999).

RLL IS ONLY TEAM TO COMPETE IN LONG BEACH ICS/ALMS “DOUBLEHEADER”… This weekend’s race will mark the first time for the team to compete in two series on the same weekend in almost five years.  RLL’s ALMS and Indy car teams last competed at the same venue on September 1-2, 2007 at Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle.  BMW Team RLL fields two BMW M3’s for drivers Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Bill Auberlen. In three years of competing in Long Beach, BMW Team RLL has finished third in 2009 and 2010 and won in 2011 with Hand and Dirk Müller.  Hand, Dirk Müller and third driver Jonathan Summerton started the 2012 season with a win in the 12 Hours of Sebring — the previous ALMS race.  The team’s other entry, driven by Jörg Müller, Bill Auberlen and Uwe Alzen led the race at one point and finished fourth in the ALMS GT class.

NEXT UP:  Practice will take place tomorrow from 10:25-11:25 a.m. PT and qualifying will take place from 2:00-3:20 p.m.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.  NBC Sports Network will air a qualifying show at 6:00 p.m. ET Saturday, April 14.  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, April 15.

RLL Returns to IndyCar Competition at Long Beach for First Time Since 2003 Pole Effort; Also First IndyCar/ALMS Doubleheader Since 2007

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Pre-Race Notes
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
Round 3 of 16 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series

DATE:                                        Friday – Sunday, April 13-15, 2012

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:    6:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network April 14; Live on the IMS Radio Network and www.indycar.com (T&S)

SPECIAL BROADCAST:           “INDYCAR 36” will air on NBC Sports Network at 3:00 p.m. ET April 15

RACE BROADCAST:                Live on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network

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

TRACK LAYOUT:                     1.968-mile, 11-turn street course

RACE LENGTH:                        85 laps / 167.28 miles 

2011 WINNER:                           Mike Conway

2011 POLESITTER:                   Will Power (1:09.0649; 102.582 mph)

SATO’S HIGHEST ROAD/

STREET COURSE START:       Pole at Edmonton 2011

SATO’S HIGHEST ROAD/

STREET COURSE FINISH:       4th at Mid-Ohio 2011

SATO IN LONG BEACH:          Highest start is 19th and highest finish is 18th – both in 2010; third race here

RLL’S TOP START/

FINISH AT LONG BEACH:       3 Poles – Herta (1998), Vasser (2002), Jourdain (2003) / 2nd – B. Rahal (1992-93), Vasser (2002); 13th race in LB

NEWS & NOTES:
FIRST INDY CAR RACE FOR RLL IN LONG BEACH SINCE 2003; LUCKY 13TH RACE HERE?
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing began their 21st consecutive season of competition in 2012.  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB) marks the team’s 13th time to compete in the event and their first since 2003 when Michel Jourdain, Jr. won pole, led a race high 48 laps and was in the lead when his car stuck in gear on his final stop with seven laps to go and ultimately retired in 15th place.  Although the team didn’t compete in Indy car races here from 2004-2011 while they fielded a fulltime entry in the Indy Racing League (2004-2008), they did compete in the 2003 and 2004 Atlantic races with Danica Patrick and in the 2007 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race. In 2009, the team returned to the streets of Long Beach in the ALMS with BMW Team RLL and finished on the podium each year since then including a win here last year with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller. 

In their 12 previous Indy car races in Long Beach, the team entered 21 cars for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-1999), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002) and Jourdain (2002-2003).  In total, the team won three poles (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place three times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002) and earned five podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999). The team prepares a full season entry for Japanese driver Takuma Sato in 2012.

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING – TWICE THE ACTION WITH TWO SERIES
This weekend’s race will mark the first time for the team to compete in two series on the same weekend in almost five years.  RLL’s ALMS and Indy car teams last competed at the same venue on September 1-2, 2007 at Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle.  BMW Team RLL fields two BMW M3’s for drivers Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Bill Auberlen. In three years of competing in Long Beach, the team has finished third in 2009 and 2010 and won in 2011 with Hand and Dirk Müller.  Hand, Dirk Müller and third driver Jonathan Summerton started the 2012 season with a win in the 12 Hours of Sebring, the previous ALMS race.  

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR JAY O’CONNELL ON LOGISTICS & BENEFITS OF A RLL DOUBLEHEADER
“From a logistics standpoint, it is pretty good to have both teams, engineers and etc. at the same site,” said O’Connell, who oversees both Indy car and ALMS programs.  “Obviously there are different trucks and different paddocks but they are only a few minutes apart and we share the same pit lane so it’s pretty easy to go from one session to the next. Both series are not on track at the same time so it’s just a matter of keeping up on each session and making sure that the engineers and drivers on each program are staying on top of each cars performance.
            “There is definitely some useful information that can be taken from our races in Long Beach, both in Indy car and ALMS that transfer to the other program.  First of all, our continued awareness of Long Beach track details and how the curbing has changed from year to year in some of the different corners helps. And also just knowing the cornering speeds and straightaway speeds to get the gears right to start the Indy car weekend. We can use our Long Beach data from 2003 and we can also use our more recent ALMS data to make sure that the gear ratios are at a good starting point for the first practice in Indy car.”
MONACO RESIDENT SATO ENJOYS ANOTHER FAMOUS STREET COURSE
The 2012 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will mark the third event at the track for Takuma Sato.  He got off to a good start in 2012 when he put RLL in the lead of the St. Petersburg race in their return to full-season participation when he took the position twice for a total of 11 laps. A mechanical issue forced the team’s retirement from the race after the final pit stop.  In Round 2, he passed four cars on the Barber Motorsport Park road course before retiring from that event with mechanical failure as well.  He is hoping for a better result in Long Beach.  While competing in Formula One for seven seasons, Sato raced at another famous street course – the Monaco Grand Prix, which is where he currently resides. He enjoys racing in Long Beach each year and enjoys the atmosphere.
            Long Beach has been known as one of most famous street courses in the world with such a long history. I love the atmosphere of the place.  I enjoy the fans, being downtown by the water and everything; the whole place is just great. I think the local support for Indy car racing is very high and I can see everyone really enjoys the weekend. Unfortunately I didn't have a great race either of my previous two years.  There were some unfortunate situations too but I hope we have a good strong weekend this year.”


THE ELUSIVE WIN; FOUR SECOND-PLACE FINISHES FOR RAHAL AS A DRIVER & ANOTHER AS OWNER
Rahal competed in Long Beach as a driver eight times (1984-1991) and as a driver/owner another seven (1992-1998) for a total of 15 events. He finished second four times in Long Beach, the last two times as an owner/driver (1988, 1991, 1992, 1993) and Jimmy Vasser brought the team another second place finish in 2002. A win here in the IndyCar Series race would be his first as a driver or team owner.  Rahal also earned two front row starts (2nd – 1985, 1998) and a total of 11 top-10 starts.


SATO ON THE CHALLENGES OF STREET COURSES
“You have to give it everything in racing. We push the car to the limit and sometimes it's less than an inch to the wall so there is no margin for mistake on street courses in general.  And most of the corners are blind because of Armco or the wall so it needs a lot of concentration and you have to be very precise, especially.  Those things are what make street racing so challenging.  Also the track surface is generally bumpy and slippery and the track revolution is big as a lot of rubber is laid down over the course of the weekend which is challenging for getting the balance right from an engineering point of view.”


SIMILAR PASSING OPPORTUNITIES AS THE ST. PETE STREET COURSE?
Sato passed three cars on the start of the season’s previous street race in St. Petersburg, another three on a restart and another two later. He led two times and had pitted from the lead before mechanical failure forced him to retire from the race. The team is hopeful of as many passing opportunities in Long Beach.
      
“The courses are not exactly similar but there are some overtaking opportunities due to heavy braking after the long straight,” said Sato.  “But hopefully I don't have to pass many cars; I just need to start from the front!  The team has been improving all the time and we have been learning every time we run the car. The two races were very different type of the courses so we gained good experience for this new car and leaned a lot so I expect there is another step forward at Long Beach.”

NEW PIT RULE UNDER CAUTION AND O’CONNELL’S IMPRESSION OF THE IMPACT
Beginning at Long Beach, pit road will e open from the onset of non-emergency full-course cautions on road and street courses, potentially cutting the number of laps under yellow.  The procedure will be employed for the remainder of the IZOD IndyCar Series season. Also beginning at Long Beach, lapped traffic will move to the rear of the field during any restarts in the final 20 laps of road/street course events.
            “It reminds me of years past when we had similar rules,” said O’Connell.  “I think the main impact will be a shift in strategies since we will be racing under yellow, albeit at a lower speed, which affects the strategy decisions you will be making as opposed to when the pits are closed under yellow. We need to think carefully about how to adjust our strategy programs and our quick-decision tools because those decisions are going to change. It doesn’t really impact fuel mileage other than when you are in the yellow, there is less laps under yellow so you can’t stretch the fuel window as far as you could before.  You can never count on yellow laps to help you save fuel to the end but now, if you did count on them, you are going to count on them even less because they are going to be shorter and there is less chance to stretch a tight window out further with a yellow cycle that is going to be shorter. It has implications in the race on the strategy and we have to think carefully about incorporating that into our decision making tools.  It definitely impacts the entertainment value and changes the flow of the race. It can be an opportunity to move up with a good call and it’s also an opportunity to go a lap down. You have to be careful to use it to your advantage and not get burned by it.”

SATO ON THE IMPACT OF TIRE MANAGEMENT IN 2012
“Tire management is always a key factor in racing but at the Barber race, it seemed to be very challenging to get it right and was much more than it was at St. Pete.  We have to wait and see how it will be at Long Beach but I expect it will be similar to St. Pete.”

SATO ON RLL’S ALMS PROGRAM
“I'm not familiar with RLL's ALMS team as I haven't gotten a chance to see them yet but I will in a couple of days! I've been following their competitive races and wins and it was a great start of the season with winning at Sebring so I think they are on very good form this year too. I am very much looking forward to seeing them.”

SATO — DID YOU KNOW…
Sato, 35, is a former high school and university cycling champion in road racing and track cycling and racing on velodromes was his first experience racing on ovals… Despite not beginning his career in auto racing until he was 19 years old, he progressed to Formula One in only five years and went on to become the most successful Japanese driver to compete in F1 after having finished third at the US Grand Prix in 2004… The first race he attended was an F1 race at Suzuka at the age of 10… His career was launched years later when he read about a contest in a racing magazine while in college that ultimately resulted in being one of seven drivers (out of approx. 70) to win a racing scholarship. It was a one-shot opportunity due to an age limit and, as he knew it was the career path he preferred over others, he made the most of it… He went on to compete in F1 for seven seasons and made 91 starts… His popularity in Japan has been compared to that of a “Rock Star” and he is a popular corporate image character both in Japan and around the globe… He has been awarded “Goodwill Ambassador” for the British Embassy in Tokyo and used for valuable UK-Japan trade development activities… He founded “With You Japan,” an organization that provides support to children affected by the devastating earthquakes and tsunami in Japan. Many of whom lost their family, friends, teachers and homes… His U.S. base of Denver was chosen so that he could train in the high altitude and his fulltime residence is Monaco… He is married with two children.                                       

 

-RLL-

BMW Team RLL – Long Beach ALMS Preview

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 9, 2012… Following a four-week intermission after BMW Team RLL’s GT class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring American Le Mans Series curtain-raiser the second act of the team’s ALMS GT class title defense will be set in the streets of Long Beach, California on April 14th.

Last year Joey Hand and Dirk Müller had starring roles as Long Beach race winners and, ultimately GT class driver’s champions. This year’s story has begun much as the last with Hand and Müller sharing a second consecutive Sebring 12 Hour victory – this time supported by Jonathan Summerton, of Kissimmee, Fla., as third driver.

Only two hours long the Long Beach race is not only the shortest of the season, but the tight confines of the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit sets a stage for high drama and conflict.

Bill Auberlen co-drove to a podium finish with Tommy Milner in both 2009 (P3) and 2010 (P2), but it was Milner that played the villain last year when the now Corvette driver’s BMW Team RLL contact with Auberlen during an over-ambitious pass knocked Auberlen (and 2011 co- driver Dirk Werner) back to a seventh place finish. This season, Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller will co-drive the No. 55 M3 GT at Long Beach. The race will be Müller’s first at Long Beach.

“We look forward to returning to Long Beach after having won there last year,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. Long Beach is such a huge event, such a historic event that any time you do well there you feel particularly good. We have had pretty good luck in Long Beach with three podiums in a row including a win last year. Last year we won at Sebring and then again in Long Beach — two-for-two — and we’re going to try to do that again this year. The cars are good at Long Beach and we will have good driver lineups as always. I feel optimistic but it’s a tough race as we saw last year with the 55 car that was running very well but got taken out by one of the Corvettes. You have to assume the worst maybe because it is a street race but I think we have a good chance to repeat our success. I look forward to being in Long Beach and having a great weekend.”

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “It’s great to be home for my favorite race. The entire event really impresses me and the overall feeling of excitement is contagious! I know the BMW Team RLL guys will give Jörg and I the support to win, but this street race is tight and tough.”

Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “I'm really looking forward to Long Beach as it will be the first time for me driving an event together with IndyCar. I have never been on this circuit before but I’ve watched a lot of video. I'm a big fan of street circuits and have won races in Monaco, Pau and Macao.”

Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “ Long Beach is an event I look forward to every season. You can feel the entire place radiate with energy on every lap. Dirk and I won the race from the pole last year so obviously our goal is to repeat and continue to keep him and BMW Team RLL at the top of the point standings.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “After two really busy weeks with the factory BMW Z4 at the Nordschleife with BMW Team Schubert, I am looking forward to one of my favorite race venues! I won LBGP already a couple of times, but it is always very special and it is always a different race. The walls are hungry and you need to be careful not to attack too hard too early! Personally I do like very much street circuits and for sure Long Beach. There are so many friends and fans and together with IndyCar it is just a perfect weekend! With our victory from Sebring in the bag we are fully motivated to keep our streak alive.”

The American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race will take the green flag at 4:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 14th. The race will streamed live on ESPN3.com beginning at 7:15 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2 television beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring will be hosted on americanlemans.com.

About BMW Team RLL:
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 339 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 112 MINI passenger car dealers, and 32 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
BMW’s partner, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan and CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman, has been competing for nearly two decades, compiling 22 victories, 31 poles and two series  championships (1992, 2010) as well as claiming an Indianapolis 500 victory (Buddy Rice in 2004). In 2009 the team joined BMW of North America to campaign the new BMW M3 in the American Le Mans Series. In 2010 the team won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category. In 2011 the team swept all three GT titles - Manufacturer, Team and Driver.

 

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