Monthly Archives: August 2012

Practice for the Baltimore GP Was Limited Due to Track Modifications; Sato Completed 19 Laps and Set the 21st Fastest Lap

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Baltimore Grand Prix – Baltimore, Maryland
IZOD IndyCar Series]
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES — Friday, August 31, 2012

 
PRACTICE FOR THE BALTIMORE GRAND PRIX WAS LIMITED DUE TO TRACK MODIFICATIONS; SATO COMPLETED 19 LAPS AND SET THE 21ST FASTEST LAP
 
FASTEST:         Will Power         1:21.0185 / 90.646 mph             
21st:                 Takuma Sato     1:23.0918 / 88.384 mph                        
 
TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was a short day in terms of practice time. We had to try quite a few things like ride height – particularly over the bumps which you have to fight.  We need to look into the data but there are a number of things we have to improve quite a lot to get the balance right and get a little bit more grip overall. Let’s see how the chicane will change for tomorrow too. We will evaluate a few things and hopefully we are closer to having the right balance tomorrow.”

  • FAST FACTS: This will be Sato’s second race at Baltimore. He qualified 26th and finished 18th here in 2011 with KV Racing Technology… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is second in Edmonton this year… Sato led two street races this season (St. Pete & Long Beach) and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he nearly won with a last lap pass. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… 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.

FIRST INDYCAR RACE AT BALTIMORE FOR RLL RACING: The Baltimore Grand Prix will mark the first IndyCar race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and SECOND overall after competing in the ALMS race last year. Last year at Baltimore, the team’s ALMS GT program – BMW Team RLL — qualified on pole (No. 55) and in third (No. 56). The No. 55 car was taken out of the lead by contact from a Corvette and the team finished fifth (No. 55) and second (No. 56).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will be the first Indy car entry in this race.
 
NEXT UP:  Practice will take place tomorrow from 9:00-10:00 a.m. ET and qualifying will take place from 12:05 – 1:20 p.m.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.  The qualifying show for the Baltimore Grand Prix will be televised on NBC Sports Network at 6 p.m. ET Saturday night and the 75 lap race will air live on the same network at 2:00 p.m. ET Sunday, September 2.

Rahal Appointed Chairman of USA Bobsled & Skeleton Foundation

BALTIMORE, Md. (August 31, 2012)-Today the U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation (USBSF) was honored to announce the appointment of Robert “Bobby” Rahal as chairman of the recently launched USA Bobsled & Skeleton Foundation (USABSF) during a press conference at the Baltimore Grand Prix in Baltimore, Md. USBSF CEO Darrin Steele initiated the foundation more than two years ago, and has focused on identifying a chairman to lead the USABSF before the official launch.

Read More

BMW Team RLL – Baltimore ALMS Preview

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – August 29, 2012… With only three races left in the 2012 American Le Mans Series season a third consecutive GT class championship remains the goal of BMW Team RLL. This weekend, the venue is the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge, a two-hour race through the city streets that surround Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In comparison with many of the other tracks the series sees, Baltimore’s temporary two-mile, 12-turn circuit is analogous to a wrestling steel cage match. Concrete walls on both sides mean there is only one way out – forward to the checkered flag. There will be many competitors, but as the last year has demonstrated, only one real opponent – Corvette.
 
Last season, the inaugural ALMS race at Baltimore ended in disappointment for BMW Team RLL as the No. 55 M3 GT was punted from the lead by an overzealous pass attempt by one of the Corvettes with only 22 minutes remaining in the race. Bill Auberlen (and co-driver Dirk Werner) ultimately finished fifth. Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finished second in the No. 56 M3 GT and BMW Team RLL would continue on to clinch a second consecutive GT class Manufacturer and Team title, adding the Driver’s championship for Hand and Müller.
 
This year, the rivalry escalated with the most recent episode at Road America when the Corvette of Oliver Gavin knocked the No. 56 M3 GT of Dirk Müller from second place and into the fence with only two laps remaining in the race. Auberlen and co-driver Jörg Müller would win the race to keep BMW second in Manufacturer points – only 10 points back of Chevrolet.
 
With wins at Sebring and Road America and an additional four podium finishes in the first seven races of the season, BMW stands second in the GT Class Manufacturer points and BMW Team RLL is second in Team points. Dirk Müller stands third in Driver points. Joey Hand stands fourth after missing the race at Road America due to a conflict with his DTM schedule. Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller are fifth.
 
“We qualified first and third in Baltimore last year and ran at the front all day but, once again, one of the Corvettes took us out of the position to win while we were leading,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “Clearly our cars ran well there and I think there is every reason to believe we will be strong in Baltimore again.  Coming off of a win gives you a little bit of a boost. This championship isn’t over yet, that’s for sure. We just have to keep focused and do what we need to do.”
 
Commenting on the most recent race he continued, “Road America is a place we have had a lot of success in the past but clearly this year we haven’t been as competitive, for various reasons, as we have in previous seasons so we were frankly a little concerned about it given all of the long straights. But the one thing about Elkhart Lake is that it has a lot of fast corners and a good-handling car is very critical and I think our car excels on the types of corners that Elkhart has.  In the end, we took advantage of the yellow and had good strategy and Bill and Jörg drove a great race. They got themselves in a position to win the race and they stayed there. They were fast when they needed to be and ended up winning. Obviously the No. 56 car was not as fortunate as they were running second and were hit by both Corvettes, the last hit being the one that stuck us in the gravel trap for the rest of the race. It was a very disappointing finish for that car.  In the end, it was great to have a car win the race and, with the Corvettes finishing where they did, it closed the championship up.”   
           
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “The No. 55 M3 GT has been showing strength in the second half of the season. In the last four races, Jörg and I have two poles, a third place finish at Mid-Ohio and a win at Road America. Now it’s time to put our stamp on Baltimore.”
 
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “I don’t think I could locate Baltimore on a map, but I do know that it is a street circuit. I’ve had success at many, including Macau and Monaco, and hope I can add Baltimore to the list.”
 
Joey Hand, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “Baltimore is a great street race venue – second only to Long Beach. The track is tight but it's a street track and I love street tracks of any sort. They did a really great job last year in only the first year of the event. Everything is close. I loved the fact that we could walk from our Holiday Inn through the Orioles stadium and into our paddock. Also we had the largest BMW CCA turn out I've ever seen at a race. The support from those BMW folks was great.”
 
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “Baltimore was the best venue of the season last year. I like street tracks a lot and especially this one. Joey and I were on the second step of the podium last year. This year we’d like to move up to the top step.”
 
The Baltimore Sports Car Challenge will take the green flag at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 1st. Live streaming coverage will begin at 4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com. ABC television will broadcast the race at 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 2.

The Series’ website offers additional content such as live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users around the world. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch all ALMS races live on ALMS.com.
 
About BMW Team RLL:

BMW Group In America

BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975.  Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003.  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 338 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 115 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 Looks Forward to Final Street Race of 2012 in Baltimore After Strong Street Course Efforts with RLL

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 21st Season
Pre-Race Notes
Grand Prix of Baltimore – Streets of Baltimore, Maryland
Round 14 of 15 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series
 
DATE:                                       August 31-September 2, 2012
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:  September 1 at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing &
                                                  scoring with audio commentary)
RACE BROADCAST:               Live on Sunday, September 2 at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
RADIO BROADCAST:              The race will air on IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM (XM 94 & Sirius 212)
TRACK LAYOUT:                     2.4-mile, 12-turn street course
RACE LENGTH:                       75 laps / 150 miles
2011 WINNER:                          Will Power
2011 POLESITTER:                  Will Power (91.520 mph)
SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET START:           Pole at Edmonton in 2011
SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET FINISH:           2nd at Edmonton 2012, 3rd at Sao Paulo 2012
SATO AT BALTIMORE:           Started 26th and finished 18th here last year.
RLL’S TOP START/
FINISH AT BALTIMORE:         Will be first ICS race here. Started 1st & 3rd in ALMS GT class in 2011 and finished 5th
                                                  and 2nd (respectively). RLL pole sitter was taken out of the lead by contact.
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
FIRST INDYCAR RACE AT BALTIMORE FOR RLL RACING
The Grand Prix of Baltimore will mark the first Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and second overall race.  The team’s ALMS GT program qualified on pole (No. 55) and in third (No. 56) in 2011. The No. 55 car was taken out of the lead by contact from a Corvette and the team finished fifth (No. 55) and second (No. 56).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will be the first Indy car entry in this race.
 
SATO ON THE STREETS
This will be Takuma Sato’s second race here. He qualified 26th and finished 18th in 2011 with KV Racing Technology but has run well on street courses this season with RLL Racing including leading the St. Pete and Long Beach races. He finished third on the streets of Brazil and earned his series-best finish of second in Edmonton.  The team will be assessed a 10-grid penalty after qualifying in Baltimore due to an unapproved engine change – their seventh of the season.  All engine changes past a season limit of five, incur a 10-grid penalty.
 
SATO ON HIS EXPECTATIONS ON THE FINAL STREET RACE OF THE SEASON
“I believe we can have a very strong weekend. I expect we will be competitive in Baltimore based on our performance on streets courses this season and there are a number of positives that indicate we can do well. We just need to concentrate on every function we have, and work to the best of our ability and we can make the most of our potential. I am very motivated and really looking forward to the final street race of the season. We just need to make sure that we don't have any bad luck.”
 
VP TECHNOLOGY JAY O’CONNELL ON THE BENEFIT OF THE TEAM’S BALTIMORE ALMS EXPERIENCE
The team’s ALMS program started from pole in Baltimore last year but was taken out of the lead by contact from another car and finished fifth while the “sister car” qualified third and finished second.  Although it will be the first time for the IndyCar operation to compete in Baltimore, they have a good baseline of knowledge according to Vice President of Technology Jay O’Connell.
“Our ALMS program adapted quickly to the Baltimore street course last year,” said O’Connell. “You may recall that the first ALMS practice was cancelled last year since the circuit was still being completed so we had just one practice session before qualifying. Our drivers were still learning the course during qualifying and improved their best practice time by two seconds to take the GT class pole. The data and experience we gained from Baltimore last year has been shared with our IndyCar Series team in order to prepare for this year’s race. Several parts of the course have changed but the majority of the corners are the same. Our Indy car has been very competitive on street courses this season so we expect to have another strong weekend in Baltimore. The course has a mixture of concrete and paved surfaces which makes it challenging to adjust the balance to work well on both surface types.”
 
SATO ON THE SUCCESS OF THE 2011 BALTIMORE RACE
The inaugural Grand Prix of Baltimore took place last year and was well attended.  Sato is looking forward to the same support this year.
“It was very impressive and really great to see the massive attendance of fans and the very nice atmosphere. It was also great to see an incredible effort from the city and promoter. Their commitment to close the railway service over the weekend since it was part of racetrack and laying down asphalt on top of the railway crossing was impressive! It's a beautiful, great city with a lot going on over the course of the race weekend. And it’s a challenging track; I like it a lot.”
 
SATO ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE BALTIMORE COURSE
“I really enjoy the track. It is one of the very challenging street courses in the series and has a nice balance of smooth, high-speed sections and technical, bumpy, low-speed sections. It's a fast track too.  I think the physical demands were very high on this track with a lot of grip and a busy lap. It is very challenging and I really like it. Also there were a few more challenges last year like a tight high-speed, mammoth chicane on the main straight and a narrow pit entry which all are changed now and improved so it will now be more safe but still a great, fun street race track.”
 
SATO’S SEASON TO DATE
Of Sato’s three seasons to date in the IndyCar Series, this has been his most competitive to date although his 15th place rank in series standings with a total of 243 points does not reflect that performance.  He is 43 points from a top-10 rank (10th: G. Rahal, 286 pts).  He led three races to date and ran as high as second, fourth and sixth in five others.  His top finish to date this season is a career-best finish of second in Edmonton.   
 

– RLL -

 
 

Sato Retired From the GoPro Indy GP of Sonoma After Engine Failure and Finished 27th

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma – Sonoma Raceway
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, August 26, 2012
 
SATO RETIRED FROM THE GOPRO INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA AFTER ENGINE FAILURE
 
TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was a difficult weekend. The team worked so hard to find a good balance under speed. We made some good progress over the weekend but it was never fast enough to be what we wanted and in the end, unfortunately, we had engine failure so it was a very short race. It was a shame because we made some setup changes after the morning warm-up that I felt were positive changes.  I’m looking forward to returning to Baltimore. We should be competitive as we were in other street course races this year.”

  • FAST FACTS: This was Sato’s third race at Sonoma. He was on Lap 2 when he lost power and retired in 27th place.  He qualified 16th and finished 18th in 2011 and qualified 17th and finished 18th in 2010.  Both with KV Racing Technology… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is second in Edmonton this year… Sato led two street races this season (St. Pete & Long Beach) and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he nearly won with a last lap pass. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… 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 Motorsport Operations: “Unfortunately it was a very disappointing weekend. We had a difficult test here and were unable to put a finger on the handling characteristics needed here to match the new 2012 car and Firestone tires and were a bit off all weekend.  Unfortunately when things are running downhill they run way downhill. This is going to compound our problem here with load-in being Wednesday at noon in Baltimore so there is a little extra work for the guys tonight to finish up with an engine change so we can get this engine back to Honda and we can investigate an un-characteristic problem here on this motor. This engine change is going to cost us a 10-grid penalty in Baltimore. We have been extremely strong on street courses this season and are looking forward to Baltimore and hope that we can qualify extremely well to overcome that 10-grid penalty and be a factor in the race.”
 
NEXT UP:  The Grand Prix of Baltimore will take place next weekend.  The race will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 2:00 p.m. ET Sunday, September 2.

Sato Qualified 24th for the GoPro Indy GP of Sonoma; Will Be Assessed a 10-Grid Penalty for an Unapproved Engine Change and Will Start 26th

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma – Sonoma Raceway
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES — Saturday, August 25, 2012

 
SATO QUALIFIED 24TH FOR THE GOPRO INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA; WILL BE ASSESSED A 10-GRID PENALTY FOR AN UNAPPROVED ENGINE CHANGE AND WILL START 26TH
 
POLE:  Will Power         1:17.2707 / 111.116 mph                       
24th:     Takuma Sato     1:19.2821 / 108.297 mph                                   
 
TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was another tough day. We really struggled in terms of finding the balance and speed, and finding the grip. We tried a lot of different things and changed philosophies on the set-up overnight and are working really hard to find a solution.  We made progress and certainly closed the gap to the top but the gains we made are small steps and are just not enough.  Now we have tried two practice and one qualifying sessions with quite different setups.  We need to go through all of the data and make the best out of it.  Hopefully we find a more comfortable balance and more speed in tomorrow’s warm-up and have a good race in the afternoon. (On 10-spot grid penalty:) Unfortunately it did not make a big difference on our starting our position.”

  • FAST FACTS: This will be Sato’s third race at Sonoma. He qualified 16th and finished 18th in 2011 and qualified 17th and finished 18th in 2010.  Both with KV Racing Technology… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is second in Edmonton this year… Sato led two street races this season (St. Pete & Long Beach) and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he nearly won with a last lap pass. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… 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: “In qualifying this afternoon, while running the option tire Takuma managed to close the gap to the pole sitter and certainly close the gap to sixth place. We know we still have work to do to understand what to do with the car to improve the balance in ever changing conditions. Obviously tomorrow’s warm-up is going to be in much cooler conditions than the race. If the wind conditions are the same tomorrow as they were in qualifying today, we will see a reasonably different balance between morning and afternoon.  We have done a lot of work since Mid-Ohio to understand the differences between how we set the car up for a road course and street course and I think we are still finding our feet. Clearly we are not going to give up. We will keep analyzing the data to understand what we need to do to ensure we give Takuma the best car we can for tomorrow’s race.”
 
5TH INDYCAR RACE AT SONOMA FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING: The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will mark the fifth Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and first since 2008 when Ryan Hunter-Reay started 8th and finished 18th for the team. The highest start and finish for the team here is by Buddy Rice in 2005 when he started sixth and finished second.  Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 9 Indy car entries for drivers Buddy Rice (2005-2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Danica Patrick (2005-2006), Jeff Simmons (2006), Scott Sharp (2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008).  The team has earned one podium (2nd – Rice 2005), 1 top-five and four top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will bring the Indy car total to 10 entries in 2012.
 
NEXT UP:  The pre-race warm-up will take place from 9:00-9:30 a.m. PT and the 85-lap race will take the Green Flag at 1:42 p.m. PT (4:42 ET).  The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 4:00 p.m. ET Sunday, August 26.

Sato Completed 19 Laps in Practice for the GoPro Indy GP of Sonoma

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma – Sonoma Raceway
IZOD IndyCar Series
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, August 24, 2012
 
SATO COMPLETED 19 LAPS IN PRACTICE FOR THE GOPRO INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA
 
FASTEST:         Will Power         1:18.6887 / 109.114 mph                       
23rd:                 Takuma Sato     1:20.8900 / 106.144 mph                                   
 
TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was a difficult day for us.  The session went well in terms of being able to go through the items we carried over from the test last week that we weren’t able to try. Overall we need to improve the balance and grip; I wasn’t particularly happy with that. Performance wise, we need to find more speed.  We ran out of time in the end. We wanted to do a little bit more but hopefully tomorrow the weather will give us another consistent session and we can improve.”

  • FAST FACTS: This will be Sato’s third race at Sonoma. He qualified 16th and finished 18th in 2011 and qualified 17th and finished 18th in 2010.  Both with KV Racing Technology… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is second in Edmonton this year… Sato led two street races this season (St. Pete & Long Beach) and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he nearly won with a last lap pass. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… 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.

 
5TH INDYCAR RACE AT SONOMA FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING: The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will mark the fifth Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and first since 2008 when Ryan Hunter-Reay started 8th and finished 18th for the team. The highest start and finish for the team here is by Buddy Rice in 2005 when he started sixth and finished second.  Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 9 Indy car entries for drivers Buddy Rice (2005-2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Danica Patrick (2005-2006), Jeff Simmons (2006), Scott Sharp (2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008).  The team has earned one podiums (2rd – Rice 2005), 1 top-five’s and four top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will bring the Indy car total to 10 entries in 2012.
 
NEXT UP:  Practice will take place tomorrow from 10:50-11:50 a.m. ET and qualifying will take place from 2:30 – 3:45 p.m.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.  The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 4:00 p.m. ET Sunday, August 26.

Bigge Crane Joins Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. (August 24, 2012) — Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that Bigge Crane and Rigging Company of San Leandro, California continues its commitment to excellence by sponsoring the team’s No. 15 entry for driver Takuma Sato at the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma August 26.

Bigge was founded by Henry Bigge in 1916 and has grown to become the premier quality equipment provider for the heavy lift and heavy transport needs of commercial, government, and industrial markets including the power generation and petroleum refinery sectors.  The company’s commitment to performance, quality and safety, along with their tradition of excellence has allowed them to remain in front of the competition for over 90 years.

“It’s great to have the Bigge boys on our team this weekend at Sonoma. They are a great customer of ours and I’m sure that Sonoma will be a great venue to showcase their dedication to performance.” said Michael Lanigan, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Bigge owns and maintains its own fleet of heavy lift and transportation equipment while utilizing its in-house team of Supervisors, Project Managers and Engineers to direct the work.  Bigge’s belief in hands-on management ensures every customer receives the service and support they need for the duration of the project, from the start all the way to the finish line. 

Watch the Bigge car at the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma this weekend.  The 85-lap race will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 26 and the qualifying show will air on Saturday, August 25 at 6 p.m. ET.  This fast-paced event features IZOD IndyCar Series race cars reaching speeds in excess of 170 mph. For more information about this event visit: www.racesonoma.com. 

-RLL -

Takuma Sato Looks Forward to GoPro Indy GP at Newly-Modified Sonoma Raceway

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 21st Season
Pre-Race Notes
GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma – Sonoma Raceway
Round 13 of 15 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series
 
DATE:                                         August 24-26, 2012
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     August 25 at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio
                                                    commentary)
RACE BROADCAST:                 Live on Sunday, August 26 at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
RADIO BROADCAST:                The race will air on IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM (XM 94 & Sirius 212)
TRACK LAYOUT:                       2.31-mile, 12-turn road course (newly modified)
RACE LENGTH:                         85 laps / 196.35 miles
2011 WINNER:                           Will Power
2011 POLESITTER:                   Will Power (105.479 mph)
SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET START:            Pole at Edmonton in 2011
SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET FINISH:            2nd at Edmonton 2012
SATO AT SONOMA:                 In two events here, Sato’s best start is 16th (2011) and best finish is 18th (2010 & 2011)
RLL’S TOP START/
FINISH AT SONOMA:                Highest start is 6th and highest finish is 2nd – both by Buddy Rice in 2005
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
5TH INDYCAR RACE AT SONOMA FOR RLL RACING
The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will mark the fifth Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and first since 2008 when Ryan Hunter-Reay started 8th and finished 18th for the team. The highest start and finish for the team here is by Buddy Rice in 2005 when he started sixth and finished second.  Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 9 Indy car entries for drivers Buddy Rice (2005-2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Danica Patrick (2005-2006), Jeff Simmons (2006), Scott Sharp (2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-2008).  The team has earned one podium (2nd – Rice 2005), 1 top-five and four top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will bring the Indy car total to 10 entries in 2012.
 
SATO ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE SONOMA COURSE
Takuma Sato has raced at Sonoma Raceway two times with his best start of 16th coming in 2011 and best finish of 18th coming in 2010 and 2011. The course is one of his favorites.
“Sonoma is one of the best road courses in the United States. I really like the flowing corners and huge elevation changes, They are great fun to drive. There are a couple of un-sighted corners over the hill and they are very challenging.”
 
SATO ON THE TRACK MODIFICATIONS TO ENHANCE PASSING OPPORTUNITIES
The raceway unveiled a newly modified track layout, which features changes to Turns 7, 9 and 11 designed to enhance passing. The raceway consulted with series officials, drivers and team representatives on the changes. With the modifications, the track will be 12 turns and 2.31 miles and race distance will increase from 75 to 85 laps.  More passing opportunities are welcome as the team will be assessed a 10-grid penalty for the race after an engine change – the sixth for the team this season — prior to the Sonoma test last Friday, August 17.
 
SATO ON THE CHANGES TO TURN 7
“I think it is good change. It’s much tighter than before so instead of carrying some speed to enter the corner, now you really have to slow it down in order to make it!  So there is a longer braking time and the big speed deferential creates good opportunity for passing.”
 
SATO ON THE CHANGES TO TURN 9
“The way they added the new tarmac, it is a little challenging to use all of them as this curve upsets the car but now this new Turn 9 you can go through quicker than before so it makes it a little more difficult to overtake at T9 itself however, this means it slightly opens the opportunity to go attempt at the next T11 so we will see.”
 
SATO ON THE CHANGES TO TURN 11
“It was so visibly difficult to see where the tuning point was with lots of lines! But that could be solved easily. More importantly the corner itself was so tight and narrow that it actually makes it very difficult to overtake.  So there were already some changes made during the test and now it has a wide open exit which I think is good because its still a tight entry which is a good opportunity for passes but the wider exit gives you some recover space for less accidents.”
 
SATO ON THE IMPACT OF THE LONGER RACE
The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma was recently lengthened from 75 to 85 laps. Sato believes this will make the race more exciting.  “Adding 10 laps to the race means it will be very difficult to do a two stop race now so it's not a bad thing because probably everyone will be three stops unless there are big yellows. Fuel saving is important but not so critical now which means more aggressive racing!”
 
SATO ON THE PROGRESS MADE AT THE SONOMA TEST LAST FRIDAY
“We learned quite a few things as we went through a number of test items but it is never enough. You always want more time. I think we made reasonable progress although our program was cut short in the end but, still, that was a very good test for us.”
 
SATO ON THE POSSIBLE REDUCTION OF TESTING FOR 2013
“More testing always helps to develop and make a good progress but I understand what we have to face in this time as well so let's see what happens. I personally, obviously, would love to have tests as much as we can.”
 
SATO ON WHAT HE LIKES TO DO IN THE AREA AWAY FROM THE TRACK
“Who could not enjoy this area?!! I think it’s a beautiful place with lots of wine and good food.  I love the weather, scenery, atmosphere, food and drink of Sonoma county.  There are a lot of stars as well at night.  The activities in this region make you have a big smile and good life but I have to be careful with the scale of fun on the race weekend!”
 
SATO’S SEASON TO DATE
Sato has run competitively in most races to date this season although his 13th place rank in series standings with a total of 233 points does not reflect that performance.  He is only 23 points from a top-10 rank (10th: G. Rahal, 256 pts) and 83 from fifth place Hinchcliffe who has 316.  He led three races to date and ran as high as second, fourth and sixth in five others.  His top finish to date this season is a career-best finish of second in Edmonton.   
 

– RLL -

 

BMW Team RLL Wins Road America for the Third Time in Four Years

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – August 18, 2012… For the third time in four seasons of American Le Mans Series competition, BMW Team RLL drove a BMW M3 GT across the Road America finish line first to win the four-hour Road America Road Race Showcase.
 
Today it was Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller who took the GT class victory in the No. 55 BMW M3 GT, racing past the checkered flag 2.63 seconds ahead of the No. 45 Porsche and the balance of the 13-car class. The duo completed 97 laps of the 4.048-mile circuit in the four-hour contest. Auberlen, who took the program’s very first win here with Joey Hand in 2009, started the race from the fourth position. He drove the opening 21 laps before handing off to Müller just before the race’s first full-course caution period. Müller cycled to the front as the balance of the field pitted and then drove 30 laps before pitting from the fifth spot to hand the No. 55 machine back to Auberlen. The Californian was forced back to the pits only one lap later to tighten the left rear wheel. He returned to the race in 11th with only the Team RLL mantra “Focus Forward” in mind as he stormed up to fourth-place in 17 laps. Auberlen pitted on lap 76 for new Dunlop tires and fuel, returning in fifth and, as luck would have it, just before the race’s third full-course caution flag flew.
 
With 38 minutes to go he cycled to the lead as the race went back to green. One more yellow flag slowed the race, but Auberlen was not to be beaten.
 
The No. 56 M3 GT of Dirk Müller and Jonathan Summerton ultimately finished 10th after Müller was forced off course by a competitor two laps before the finish and was unable to continue. The incident dashed team hopes for a 1-2 BMW finish as the cars had been running in that order near the closing stage of the race.
 
With two wins and four additional podium finishes in the first seven races of the season, BMW stands second in the GT Class Manufacturer points and BMW Team RLL is second in Team points. Dirk Müller falls to third in Driver points. Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller move up one spot to fifth.
 
“I am really thrilled for Bill and Jörg,” said Team Principal Bobby Rahal. “In the last couple of years Bill has often been in the situation to win some races and got some bad luck. I am really very happy for Bill and really proud of the team. In Friday’s practice we were 2 seconds off the pace. Our engineers Jay O'Connell, Bruno Couprie, and Chris Yancher really went to work and made the right changes. I think we are still at a bit of a deficit against the Porsche particularly and the Corvettes, but today we had a really good strategy. When Bill had to go fast he did and he went really fast – kudos to him for doing a great job. I feel bad for Dirk and Jonathan as they were in a position to finish 1- 2 and were hit by both Corvettes. They severely damaged the #56 car. Frankly I am not sure it’s repairable. On that side of the equation I am very, very disappointed. But in the end we are one big team. Everybody worked really hard and we were able to bring it home.”
 
Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “These guys are awesome. It’s been a while since we were on top of the podium and we all deserve it. We were 2 seconds off the pace in practice and I knew the team would figure it out.”
 
Jörg Müller, driver No. 55 M3 GT – “Bill did a fantastic job. The team did their job so well and that makes us all proud to be a part of this win. This is everyone on this team’s victory. It was fun to be at Road America for my first time and the podium makes it sweeter. Thank you to everyone.”
 
Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “I was running hard in P2 and was pushed right off the track. I hope the officials are aware of what happened. Congrats to Bill and Jörg for a very well deserved victory. We were on a 1-2 run and that would have been so fantastic for the championship.”
 
Jonathan Summerton, driver No. 56 M3 GT – “It was an exciting race. Dirk did a great job. I had a little mistake in the pit, but it is all part of the learning curve. It’s a shame the day ended the way it did.” Round 8 of the 2012 American Le Mans Series, the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge will take the green flag at 4:30 p.m. ET on September 1st. Live streaming coverage is available starting at 4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com. ABC television will broadcast the race at 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept 2nd. The Series’ website offers additional content such as live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users around the world. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch all ALMS races live on ALMS.com.
 
About BMW Team RLL:
 
BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls- Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. 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 338 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 139 BMW motorcycle retailers, 114 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.

 
# # #