Monthly Archives: April 2012

RLL Gained Valuable Oval Experience at Today’s Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
IZOD IndyCar Series – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
TESTING NOTES/QUOTES – Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING GAINED VALUABLE OVAL EXPERIENCE AT TODAY’S TEST AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY; FIRST OVAL TEST FOR THE TEAM IN 2012

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I am very excited to be back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  After a long winter, a street course and a road course race, to have your first test on an oval take place at Indianapolis is so exciting.  The place is so special and you feel the speed immediately; it’s really fast.  The car is quite different but it is only the first day for the team to run on an oval with it and we will continue to learn.  Our focus was to gather data and we went through a test plan to build a foundation for May.  In the end we were happier with the balance so it was a productive test.”

FAST FACTS: Was RLL and Sato’s first test day on an oval of the 2012 season. Sato ran 60 laps for a total of 150 miles with a best lap time of 212.573 mph.… Sato qualified 10th for the Indy 500 in 2011 and finished 33rd after contact.  In 2010, he qualified 30th and finished 20th… It 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. He qualified 15th and passed three cars on the start, passed three cars on the second (re)start and two on another to move to the lead two times. He pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish… Sato passed four cars in his first stint at Barber, struggled on his second on primary tires and 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).  He led a total of 61 laps in 2011 in 11 so far in 2012.
 

INDY 500 HELMET CONTEST: Sato is holding a “With you Japan” Charity Design Contest and the winner’s design will be featured on his Indy 500 helmet.  The winner will be chosen April 6. For more information log on to: http://www.withyoujapan.org/en/activity/

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engineer for Sato:  “We have had a reasonably productive day here today. We have been playing catch up in terms of the test which was conducted the end of last year. Whilst we have made progress, there is clearly a long way to go in terms of understanding how to optimize performance of the new DW12 chassis. We will look at the data we have collected today and come back next month stronger and have a clearer direction in terms of what we need to do to achieve a fast car.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT INDY… 2012 marks the 21st consecutive season of competition for the team. Team owner Bobby Rahal won the Indy 500 in 1986 and the team won the race in 2004 with Buddy Rice.

NEXT UP:  The series will take this weekend off and return to action on April 15 for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. RLL won the GT class of the ALMS race from pole in Long Beach last year with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller.  The team will field entries in both the IZOD IndyCar Series and ALMS races at Long Beach.

 

RLL to Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 4 with Sato; First Oval Test of 2012 Season

NEWS & NOTES:

FIRST 2012 OVAL TEST FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow with Takuma Sato.  It will be the first test for the team on an oval for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.  Initially the test was open to one car from each of the three manufacturers – Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus but the series invited more cars to participate.  New aerodynamic components have been released since an initial test at IMS by each of the engine manufacturers and data will be collected to evaluate those components. 

One car/driver combination from each team was invited with the exception of teams that have rookie drivers.  RLL’s Takuma Sato will be joined at the test by fellow Honda-powered drivers Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing) and Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing). Chevy drivers that are testing include Helio Castroneves (Team Penske), Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology), Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing), Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport) and JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing).


RLL’s Technical Director Jay O’Connell provided a brief overview of the test and the type of knowledge the team hopes to gain at the test.

AN OVERVIEW BY O’CONNELL ON THE TEST AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
“We found out we were testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Friday night so we started preparing for it on Saturday while at Barber so it’s really been a short amount of time to get ready. The first step was figuring out some gears and then working on the aerodynamic and mechanical setup based on the manufacturer test result last fall and our previous experience in the Indianapolis 500.

            “Our goal at Indy tomorrow is to build a foundation to use for the month of May. We want to get a good understanding of the basic aerodynamic characteristics of the new car, especially with all of the updates that have been coming in the last couple of months. And we are going to get a chance to understand the difference between the 2011 and 2012 Indy 500 tires because I understand that they are going to give us two sets of each of those types.  With a new car we have to figure out how much of our traditional Indy 500 setups, combined with our understanding of the new car, will work at Indy.”

O’CONNELL ON HAVING A STRONG RACE SETUP AND LEADING WITH A FEW LAPS TO GO IN 2011
“The last few years we have had solid efforts at Indy whether it was with Oriol (Servia; 2009) or Graham (Rahal, 2010) or with Bertrand Baguette and Jay Howard last year. Each year we have tried to start from solid ground and have a good qualifying setup.  We qualified in the top-15 the last few years and made it into the Firestone Fast 9 with Graham two years ago.  Qualifying is one aspect and its fun for the engineers but the key is having a good car in the race. We have had really strong cars in the race, especially with Bertrand last year.  He moved his way up from starting 14thand was a contender at the end of the race where he had to pit from the lead with three laps to go.”

O’CONNELL ON RACE ENGINEER GERRY HUGHES AND HIS OVAL DEBUT
“Certainly Gerry (Hughes) is new to the ovals and we are going through the different parts of the setup and the history behind them. The test is really a good opportunity for him to get up to speed on the ovals in an environment with less pressure than the race event. This will be a good opportunity for him, and well as the rest of us, to really learn the characteristics of the new car on the ovals.”

O’CONNELL ON INPUT FROM COUPRIE WHO ENGINEERED A FRONT ROW CAR IN ‘11
Bruno Couprie was the race engineer for Indy 500 front row starter Oriol Servia who qualified third in 2011. Couprie left Newman/Haas Racing at the conclusion of the 2011 season to join RLL’s ALMS program as a race engineer.  He is also assisting with the IndyCar program.
    
“Bruno is certainly involved and will be at the test. He is bringing his experience to the table and helping as we prepare for Indy. We are going through our experience the last few years along with his experience from last year to start from a good base. We are going to try to take advantage of his experience as much as possible and combine it with our own.”

SATO — DID YOU KNOW…
Takuma 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-

 

Sato Retired From the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama After Mechanical Failure

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Barber Motorsports Park
IZOD IndyCar Series
NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, April 1, 2012

SATO RETIRED FROM THE HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA AFTER MECHANICAL FAILURE

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “We had a reasonable start.  It’s always exciting going through two or three corners side-by-side. I gained a few positions and the race settled down quickly. After the pit stop, we struggled with the balance of the car on the primary Firestone tires. As soon as I got back on the alternate Firestone’s on the next stint, the handling was much better and I was starting to overtake people. We were on the way to recovering positions but then all of a sudden I lost power. It is disappointing to have mechanical failures in two consecutive races but there are some positives from the weekend.  I hope in Long Beach we are able to be competitive again and have a strong finish.”

FAST FACTS: Started 16th in his third race here today but retired after mechanical failure in 24th place. He qualified 11th here in 2011 and finished 16th and qualified sixth in 2010 and finished 15th – both for KV Racing Technology… Will be 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. He qualified 15th and passed three cars on the start, passed three cars on the second (re)start and two on another to move to the lead two times. He pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish… 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 led a total of 61 laps in 2011.

INDY 500 HELMET CONTEST: Sato is holding a “With you Japan” Charity Design Contest and the winner’s design will be featured on his Indy 500 helmet.  The winner will be chosen April 6. For more information log on to: http://www.withyoujapan.org/en/activity/

 

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT BARBER… 2012 marks the 21st consecutive season of competition for the team.  It was the first IndyCar Series race for the RLL at Barber.

NEXT UP:  The series will take next weekend off and return to action on April 15 for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Sato and RLL will test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday, April 4.