Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rahal Completed His First 2013 IndyCar Oval Test at TMS And Ran A Total of 94 Trouble-Free Laps

FORT WORTH, Texas (March 28, 2013) – Graham Rahal completed a trouble-free day of testing his No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Honda-Dallara-Firestone race car last night at the 1.5-mile high-banked Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) oval.  He completed 94 laps between 2-10 p.m. CT with a best lap time of 214.058 mph. 
 
It was Rahal’s first time back at TMS since his near win there last year where he led 27 of the final 29 laps before a slight brush of the wall with two laps to go forced him to settle for second place. The Firestone 550 will take place at TMS on June 8.
 
“The test went really well,” said Rahal, 24. “We worked through some items that we wanted to try on the Midas / Big O Tires car and it worked out to be pretty beneficial. I think we found a good direction so hopefully when James (Jakes) comes back here after Long Beach we will have a good place to start with him and then move on to the race.  We tried several things for Honda and some things for ourselves that Gerry and Eddie had planned, some of which were based on Eddie’s previous experience with other teams. There were some questions that we had and I think we found some good answers.  We are pretty optimistic about coming back here for the race weekend.”
 
“Given the conditions which were very windy in the first part of the session and cooling off in the second, we had an interesting test,” added Race Engineer Gerry Hughes.  “We made a couple of advances in terms of the setup for Texas Motor Speedway and I think it was a constructive test for us. We have a good degree of confidence for Barber in respect to the electronics system and the problems that we had in St. Pete so that was also constructive.” 
 
Acorn Stairlifts driver James Jakes was scheduled to test but the team elected to reschedule for mid April in the hope that track conditions will be more in line with what the series will experience in June.  The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season resumes with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 7 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.  The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 3 p.m. ET.  The IMS Radio Network will also carry the race live on Sirius and XM channels 211. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Legacy Indy Lights 100 on April 7. It will be telecast by NBC Sports Network immediately preceding the IZOD IndyCar Series race.
 
For more information, log on to www.rahal.com, www.grahamrahal.com www.jamesjakes.com or www.indycar.com.
 

– RLL –

Midas/Big O Tires Driver Rahal Qualified 15th for the Honda GP of St. Pete; Acorn Stairlifts Driver Jakes Qualified 18th

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, March 23, 2013
 
MIDAS/BIG O TIRES DRIVER RAHAL QUALIFIED 15TH FOR THE HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG; ACORN STAIRLIFTS DRIVER JAKES QUALIFIED 18TH
 
POLE:  Will Power                     1:01.2070 / 105.870 mph            (Set in Round 3)
15th:     Graham Rahal               1:02:2709 / 104.061 mph            (Set in Round 1, Group 1)         
18th:     James Jakes                 1:02.1658 / 104.237 mph            (Set in Round 1, Group 2)
 
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I’m frustrated and upset that we didn’t make it through to Round Two or Three. We thought the Midas / Big O Tires car was pretty good this morning and could have been in the top-five. It’s just a game of a few hundredths (of a second) and you are in and unfortunately we didn’t make it into the top-six to progress. We will just have to look at strategy options for tomorrow, pass some guys and move forward.  Based on our starting position, rain would be good to mix this race up. Some of the guys aren’t quite as good in the rain so it would be interesting to see where we would end up if that happened.”
 
FAST FACTS: Will make his sixth start at this track.  His best start here is pole in 2009 and best finish is a win in 2008 in his IndyCar Series debut – both history-making moments… While with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing he qualified ninth in 2008, led 19 laps and became the youngest driver to win at the age of 19 years, 93 days old in his series debut after only 10 laps of testing at speed before the event (more details available). His pole-winning run in 2009 here also made him the youngest driver to accomplish the feat in series history. He was hit from behind on the opening lap and finished seventh. In 2010, he qualified 16th and finished 9th for Sarah Fisher Racing. While with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR) he qualified 12th and finished 17th in 2011 and qualified 11th and finished 12th in 2012… This will be Rahal’s first full season at RLL, sixth in the IZOD IndyCar Series and seventh in a top open wheel racing series (CCWS 2007)… The Ohio native has recorded 91 starts between the Champ Car World Series and IZOD IndyCar Series capturing one win, two poles, 19 top-five and 44-top 10 finishes. He led a total of 28 laps in 2012 – 27 at Texas Motor Speedway where he nearly claimed victory — had an average start of 12.4 and average finish of 11.2, earned three podium finishes and completed 87.2 percent of the laps run (1,841 of 2,111).
 
JAMES JAKES, No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “Qualifying was very frustrating but it’s going to be a long race tomorrow. Obviously it was difficult just jumping on the Firestone red tires, never having used them before which caught a lot of people out.  I don’t think we are far away.  We just need to dial the Acorn Stairlifts car in a bit more for the race. The weather looks a bit uncertain for tomorrow so we will have to see if we can make some changes and patient in the race tomorrow and get to the front.  I love racing in the rain so I would prefer it to be wet but obviously not too wet because of the standing water. We will have to wait to see what the weather does but I don’t mind if it’s wet tomorrow.”
 
FAST FACTS: Will be his third start at this track. He qualified 22nd and finished 15th in 2011 and qualified 20th and finished 26th in 2012 – both with Dale Coyne Racing… Jakes began racing in 2002 in the British T-Car series where he finished second. He graduated to the British Formula Renault Series in 2004-2005. In 2005 he finished second in the standings after seven podium finishes and two poles and was named a Rising Star by the prestigious British Racing Drivers Club and was a McLaren Autosport Award finalist. He progressed to the British Formula 3 Series and Formula 3 Euro Series (2007-2008) where he won the Pau Grand Prix from pole in 2008 and set the fastest race lap.  He earned two podiums in the GP2 Asia series (2008-2009) and a pole and two podiums in GP3 (2010) and finished eighth in series standings despite missing four races because of injury… Will compete in his third season in the IndyCar Series and first with RLL. In 31 Indy car starts with Dale Coyne Racing from 2011-2012, his best finish was eighth at Toronto and series-best start of eighth was at Motegi.
 
JAY O’CONNELL, Technical Director for RLL: “We were making good progress with both cars from Practice 1, 2 and 3 and then the red tires in qualifying were definitely a curve ball since none of the teams got to test them before hand. We struggled with rear grip on the red tires which was unexpected based on our experience from last year but we will learn from that and take it into account for tomorrow and make sure the setups are good for both red and black tires and look forward to a better race. We used this rain tire in Detroit last year so we can lean on that experience if we need them tomorrow. This rain tire is better in lower water depths so it’s better for transition to dry situations. If its really deep water they will probably stop the race because of water collecting. So this rain tire should work well in the conditions they will let us run in.”
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT ST. PETE… 2013 will mark the 22nd consecutive season of competition for the team.  It will be the sixth IndyCar race for the team in St. Pete and the team has entered 11 cars in this race to date. The team prepared Indy cars for Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Buddy Rice (2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Jeff Simmons (2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008) and Takuma Sato (2012) prior to this year. The team led the race for four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 (G. Rahal won) and 11 in 2012 (Sato) and has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth by Meira in 2005.  The highest starting position by the team is sixth place by Hunter-Reay in 2008.
 
NEXT UP…  Morning warm-up will take place tomorrow morning from 8:45-9:15 a.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will air the 110-lap Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg live beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 24.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.
 
PHOTO AND VIDEO AVAILABLE… Media members who register on the IndyCar Series media site have access to photography and video. Register for access at: http://www.indycarmedia.com/pages/ApplyforAccess

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg – Pre-Race Notes

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 22nd Season
Round 1 of 16 in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Serie 
 
DATE:                                               Friday – Sunday, March 22-24, 2013
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:           Live on NBC Sports Network at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, March 23; live on the IMS Radio Network and
                                                          www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)
RACE BROADCAST:                       Live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, March 24 at 12 p.m. ET
RADIO BROADCAST:                     The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 211 & Sirius 211
TRACK LAYOUT:                            1.8-mile, 14-turn street course
RACE LENGTH:                               110 laps / 198 miles
2012 WINNER:                                 Helio Castroneves
2012 POLESITTER:                         Will Power (1:01.3721; 105.585 mph)
RLLR TOP START/
FINISH AT ST. PETE:                      6th by Hunter-Reay in 2008 (led 4) / 5th by Meira in 2005
G. RAHAL’S BEST START/
FINISH IN ST. PETE:                      1st in 2009 / 1st in 2008; will be his sixth race here
RAHAL’S HIGHEST SERIES
START/FINISH:                                Pole at St. Pete 2009 & Kansas 2009 / 1st in St. Pete in 2008
JAKES’ BEST START/
FINISH IN ST. PETE:                       20th (2010 & ‘11) / 15th (2011); will be his third race here
JAKES’ HIGHEST ROAD/
STREET COURSE FINISH:            8th at Motegi (road) in 2011 / 8th at Toronto (street) in 2012
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING RETURNS TO A MULTI-CAR ICS OPERATION IN ST. PETE
The 2013 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will mark the sixth IndyCar Series race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLLR) in St. Petersburg. It will be the team’s first time to run full season, multiple-car programs since 2007 (Sharp and Simmons/Hunter-Reay) RLLR has entered the No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires car for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts car for James Jakes to bring the team’s total to 10 entries for this event.  The team previously prepared Indy cars for Danica Patrick (2005-2006), Buddy Rice (2005-2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Jeff Simmons (2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008) and Takuma Sato (2012) here. The team led the race for four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 but a different Rahal – Graham – won the event.  In 2012, Sato led two times for a total of 11 laps but pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish.  RLLR has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth by Meira in 2005.  The highest starting position by the team is sixth place by Hunter-Reay in 2008.
 
G. RAHAL ON HIS HISTORY-MAKING RACES IN ST. PETE
Graham Rahal became the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history when he drove to victory in his IndyCar Series (ICS) debut in St. Pete in 2008 at the age of 19 years and 93 days old with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR).  Rahal had only run 10 laps at testing speed in an ICS car on a road course (Sebring) due to a pre-race three hour test being cancelled due to rain.  During the St. Pete race weekend, he progressed to Group 2 in qualifying for his debut on the street course in St. Pete but was unable to get a clear lap and qualified ninth.  The race began under caution while standing water was cleared and once the green flag flew he progressed up to third place before his first pit stop in a race that saw multiple pit strategies.  He was hit on Lap 37 by Will Power which caused a spin and he dropped to 23rd but the team elected to gamble and keep him on track while others pit on Lap 60 under caution and he moved into second before the restart on Lap 65. He took the lead and held it through two more restarts including one with three laps to go while holding off then two-time St. Pete winner Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan.  He won by a 3.5 second margin to become the youngest winner in series history after he led a total of 19 of the 83 laps.
            “It was an interesting race with the weather going back and forth from rain and dry conditions,” recalled Rahal. “The conditions at the time really played to our advantage.  We weren’t necessarily the quickest in the dry so it made it a little bit easier for us to be on a level playing field with the rain. I felt like I had a good chance to finish well once we kind of got back on the same strategy with everybody else after being spun out. We restarted in second and once I got by (Ryan) Hunter-Reay I felt like I was pretty much in control. We had a late yellow but for most of the 19 laps we led, I had quite a gap (on second). I had pulled off quite a lead. On the late restart I got a good start – I locked up on the inside front going into Turn 1 — but gathered it up and just took off.  I got a bit of a lead from the guys behind me. It was certainly a really good day and one we hope to relive. On the last lap you are telling yourself ‘Hit all of your apex’s and don’t make any mistakes’ and fortunately we didn’t.”
 
GRAHAM ON THE POST RACE CELEBRATION, LETTERMAN AND FINALLY SPRAYING CHAMPAGNE
“It was nice to win. Certainly there was a lot of pressure taken off my shoulders that day to get my first win. I didn’t expect it to take so many years to assume the same position but it felt really good at the time. Being on the “Late Show” was good too. Hopefully it’s a good omen that we are going to be on the show this week; maybe that will be a sign of things to come. I wasn’t 21 yet so they didn’t let me spray champagne on the podium so when I was on Dave’s show, he handed me a bottle of champagne and ran. I was thinking ‘What do I do with this?’ So I just ran out toward the crowd and gave them all a champagne shower. I kind of felt bad about that actually. Anyone that’s been sprayed with champagne before knows it’s not that nice. Dave sent me a bottle of Dom Pérignon with a message on it after the win that I have in my office – unopened of course – which is pretty cool.”
 
GRAHAM HOPES TO RETURN TO HIS EARLY ST. PETE FORM
In 2013, Graham will compete in his sixth event here.  After his history-making win here in 2008, he won pole in 2009 with NHLR to become the youngest pole winner in series history.  He was hit from behind on the opening lap and finished seventh. He qualified 16th and finished 9th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010.  He qualified 11th in 2012 and finished 12th in 2012 and qualified 12th in 2011 and finished 17th – both for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). He is one of five former previous race winners entered this year: Helio Castroneves (2006, 2007 and 2012), Dario Franchitti (2011), Will Power (2010), Ryan Briscoe (2009) and Graham Rahal (2008).
            “The results the last two years were compromised by strategy,” said Rahal. “We have always been quick there. Last year we pitted a couple of times unnecessarily, just to try to get on an alternate strategy and unfortunately it didn’t work out. The year before, for some reason we decided to save an impossible amount of fuel and I was lifting at the Start/Finish and it was frustrating. Clearly it didn’t work out.”
 
JAKES AND ST. PETE – THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM
The 2013 Honda Grand Prix of St. Pete will be the third race here for Orlando resident James Jakes. He qualified 22nd and finished 15th in 2011 and qualified 20th and finished 26th in 2012 – both with Dale Coyne Racing.
             “I have always seemed to race well at St Pete, especially in my first Indy car race there two years ago. Qualifying has let me down in the past and it is always important to qualify high up there. I will be looking to improve that this year.  I think a top eight finish would be a positive start to the year. We haven't covered as many miles as the other teams in pre-season testing but we feel that we have a good package and should be well prepared heading into the race weekend.”
 
JAKES AND RAHAL ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE COURSE
“St Pete is a great track, its one of my favorites on the calendar,” said Jakes. “You have to make sure you set the car up pretty positive as you don't really want to have any understeer. The fast flowing chicane before the last corner is always fun and so is the quick right hander (3rd corner) at the start of the lap.”
               “The track has a mix of high and low speed corners with bumps in a lot of areas so it makes braking and everything pretty tricky,” added Rahal. “It’s pretty physical; there aren’t a lot of areas to get much of a break which is pretty tough. But I think the bumps are probably the biggest thing. It’s also pretty narrow in the backstretch in particular which makes it very easy to make a mistake.”
 
JAKES ON THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF SEASON-OPENERS
The 2013 season will mark the third for the Leeds, England native in the IZOD IndyCar Series. He made 31 starts for Dale Coyne Racing from 2011-2012 with his best series start of eighth place coming on the Motegi road course in 2011 and his best series finish of eighth coming on the Toronto street course in 2012. He began racing in 2002 in the British T-Car series so he has seen his share of “season-openers.”
            “Things can get a little crazy at the opening races of the season. This is normal in any race category really. I think when you have 26 drivers that haven't raced in these cars for six months, you get a lot of anticipation that builds up and everyone just cannot wait to get out there.”
 
JAKES ON THE CONTINUED PREPARATION SINCE THE OPEN TEST
Jakes got behind the wheel of an Indy car for the first time since the 2012 season finale last Wednesday and set the ninth fastest time in the afternoon session and was 11th fastest over the two-day test (he only ran Wednesday). He is looking forward to more seat time this weekend.
            “Everything seems to be working very well. This is a new team for me so everything has been a new start, even learning everyone’s names. I think my engineer Eddie Jones and I have the basis of a great relationship and we are looking forward to extracting the maximum out of each other. From my side, I just have to make sure my fitness is great and that I'm doing everything I can to maintain it during the year.”
 
BOBBY RAHAL ON THE BUSY OFF-SEASON
“Just about everything has happened since the conclusion of last season. We have different drivers, added engineers and mechanics, expanded the shop. We have done all of the things that go with expanding from a one car team to a two car team – you name it. There were a lot of changes and I think they are all for the better. Whether it’s having Graham and James with us fulltime or whether it’s having all the great sponsors that are with us, having more cars and strengthening our engineering department, we have accomplished a lot over the off season. There has been an influx of a lot of people including (chief mechanic) Donny Stewart from the Columbus team, (race engineer) Eddie Jones joined us and we have been able to hire very good mechanics and support staff.  On the business side, we’re excited about our partnership with Midas, Big O Tires and others from the TBC Retail Group, as well as Valvoline, Norm Reeves Honda, TranSystems, Battery Tender, blu eCigs, and Acorn Stairlifts. A tremendous amount of work has happened since September and there are still things happening so it’s been a very busy off-season for the team. We are very optimistic about the season given all of the things that have happened since 2012.”
 
BOBBY ON THE TEAM’S INDYCAR FLEET
“We went from two cars last year to five now. We have three new cars on top of the two we had last year.  That allows us to run a third entry at Long Beach and possibly Indy. When we aren’t running the car as a race car, it’s a test car and that allows us to not disturb the work on the actual race cars to go testing and allows us to consider participating in some tests between races. It’s a luxury in some respects but it’s also a much-needed luxury.  It also gives us the ability to respond to any situation that might arise. I’m very pleased with the things we have done over the course of the winter in terms of preparing those cars.  It’s made more work for sure but it allows us to go forward on a much better footing than we had even last year.”
 
BOBBY’S EXPECTATIONS FOR ST. PETE
In the team’s return to full time Indy car competition at St. Pete last year, they led two times for a total of 11 laps with Takuma Sato but pitted from the lead for his final stop and discovered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish.  Bobby is optimistic of another competitive run for the team this year. 
                “I don’t see why we can’t run well at St. Pete again this year. Graham has won there and been on pole and I think he’s always performed well there so I don’t see why that should change. With James, and I think he probably saw the difference at this past test, there is a level of support and quality of people working with him now that he might not have had before. I don’t see any reason why he can’t be competitive in the race. We’re going into this weekend expecting to be competitive and that includes everyone in the team. I told them ‘You can’t expect to win, but you can expect to be competitive’ and that hasn’t changed. Our goal is to have two cars in the top-10 at the end of the year. I don’t think people really know what James is ultimately capable of because I don’t think he’s necessarily had the best opportunities but he will this year. He has shown that he can drive quickly. It’s just a matter of having consistency behind him. I will be disappointed if he doesn’t have a breakout season, relatively speaking. And the same holds true with Graham; the pressure is really on us to create the environment he needs to excel. He has been with very good teams prior to coming to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and has shown he can run up front. It’s about not making any mistake from our standpoint, having the right strategy and making sure that mechanically we are reliable. I’m pretty confident we can do all of that.”
 

-RLL-
 

Promising Race Debut: BMW Team RLL Finishes Fourth and Seventh as BMW Z4 GTE Makes First Appearance at 12 Hours of Sebring

Sebring (US), 16th March 2013. For more than eight hours a top result was in reach for BMW Team RLL at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season opener at the “Sebring International Raceway” (US). While in the end technical problems in the final third of the race denied Bobby Rahal’s (US) squad a shot at a possible podium finish, BMW Motorsport was able to draw a positive conclusion after the race debut of the newly developed BMW Z4 GTE. The two cars showed a promising pace, finishing fourth and seventh in the GT category after 12 hours.

Bill Auberlen (US), Maxime Martin (BE) and Jörg Müller (DE) were able to battle it out at the front of the field with the Frozen Black No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE for most of the endurance classic, before the trio lost time and positions due to an issue with the power steering. After 330 laps, final-stint driver Müller crossed the line in fourth. The No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE, driven by Dirk Müller (DE), Joey Hand (US) and John Edwards (US), delivered an equally strong race, even leading for several kilometres in the BMW Z4 GTE’s maiden ALMS race. However, a problem with the front left strut with three and a half hours to go made repair work necessary. Dirk Müller lost many positions, dropping down from second. Hand ultimately took the chequered flag in seventh. Corvette’s Oliver Gavin (GB), Tommy Milner (US) and Richard Westbrook (GB) claimed victory in the GT class.

BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL, nevertheless, had every reason to be satisfied with the first outing of the BMW Z4 GTE in race conditions – on one of North America’s most challenging circuits. All six drivers, including the series newcomers Martin and Edwards, were able to record competitive lap times with the new car and challenge the strong competition at the front of the GT pack. In addition, the engineers collected valuable insights over the course of the weekend, which will now be used for further development the car and getting it prepared for the second ALMS race at Long Beach (US) on 20th April.

For the first time since 2010, BMW Team RLL had to cede GT victory at this 12-hour race to another team. The team had triumphed in both 2011 and 2012 with the BMW M3 GT at this event. Overall, BMW has scored four class wins in Sebring. On top of this, the BMW 3.0 CSL scored overall victory in 1975, as did the BMW V12 LMR prototype in 1999.

Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):

“We didn’t necessarily expect to be able to set our sights on top positions with the new BMW Z4 GTE in the GT class of the American Le Mans Series from the word go. The lap times and the consistency of our drivers was promising, both cars were able to fight among the front-runners in the first two thirds of the race. Unfortunately they lost ground due to technical gremlins. However, it hardly comes as a surprise that such problems can occur on a car that hasn’t completed too many kilometres of testing. In any case, BMW Team RLL and the BMW Motorsport crew proved their fighting spirit until the very end and delivered a good performance. The BMW Z4 GTE proved its potential, and that’s what we had all hoped for. In addition we saw just how strong our driver line-up is. All six of them were running really well. Now we will draw the right conclusions from this race and are looking forward to our second ALMS outing in Long Beach. It’s all about getting closer to the limit of the BMW Z4 GTE on a race by race basis, and today we have taken the first step.”

Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Team RLL):

“Sebring usually puts the biggest demands on the cars, and that’s what we also saw today. This race was a true test for our new car. Obviously there are still some issues that we need to sort out. But when the car was out on the track, it ran competitively. So that gives us a lot of optimism for the future. We were in a good position to do well in this race, but a better result just couldn’t be. We will be ready for the next race.”

Bill Auberlen (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

“I think everyone is surprised about how good it went for us overall here in Sebring. BMW Motorsport once more came up with a competitive car from the word go. Of course we need to improve in certain areas, but anything else would come as a big surprise. The whole team did a great job, never gave up and really deserved this fourth place finish.”

Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

“This has been a very exciting weekend for me. I really enjoyed my first ALMS appearance and instantly felt at home at BMW Team RLL. Fourth is a good result to start with. Maybe we could have scored an even better result under normal circumstances.”

Jörg Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

“During my first stint I hit another car with the front of our BMW Z4 GTE, which had a negative effect on the balance. With every pit stop we managed to improve the situation more. For many hours the car went like clockwork and we were able to push really hard. Finishing fourth is quite okay considering the problems we had.”

Dirk Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

“Obviously it’s a bit of a pity we dropped back in the final stages of the race. However, things like that just happen at the debut of a brand new car. However, I walk away from Sebring with many positive thoughts in my mind. I’m really happy that the new season is finally underway, and the BMW Z4 GTE makes me really look forward to the next races. Of course there’s still a lot of work to do, but the basis is definitely good.”

Joey Hand (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

“This has been a decent debut for our BMW Z4 GTE. We could really feel in the cockpit how ‘racy’ this car is. We gained a lot of experience, not just regarding the car, but also regarding our new Michelin tyres. After our victories in the past finishing seventh feels a bit unfamiliar. But I’m sure the BMW Z4 GTE has got everything that is needed to be back at the front really soon.”

John Edwards (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

“It’s been just a great feeling to race this unbelievable car here in Sebring. I managed to find a nice rhythm, and the BMW Z4 GTE really made life easy for me. I’m happy that I slotted in well in this new environment. The engineers and my team-mates helped me in a sensational way. Experience is just such an important factor at this track. Normally we could have challenged for a better result. Still we should be happy with this promising debut.”

BMW Team RLL Qualifies Eighth and Ninth for Sebring 12 Hours

Sebring (US), 15th March 2013. The new BMW Z4 GTE experienced another first at Sebring (US) on Friday and took part in its maiden American Le Mans Series (ALMS) qualifying session. In the contest for the top grid positions for the classic 12-hour race, Maxime Martin (BE) was in action driving the “Frozen Black” No. 55 car. Joey Hand (US) took to the track at the wheel of the No. 56 BMW Z4 GTE. Martin clocked the eighth-fastest GT-class time, setting a 1:59.736-minute lap, while Hand was 0.111 seconds behind in ninth. Ferrari’s Gianmaria Bruni (IT) secured pole position for the 61st staging of the race, posting a lap time of 1:58.815 minutes.

BMW Team RLL had made full use of the previous days at the “Sebring International Raceway” to gain further valuable experience with the BMW Z4 GTE. The race, which will go green on Saturday at 10:30hrs local time, will be the first real endurance test for the newly developed car. Martin will then team up with Bill Auberlen (US) and Jörg Müller (DE), while Hand will alternate at the wheel of the No. 56 car with Dirk Müller (DE) and John Edwards (US).

Bobby Rahal (Team Principal of BMW Team RLL):

“We have worked really hard this week on preparing the car for the race, not so much for qualifying. The other cars in the field are far more developed, and the teams know them in and out. This is something which has a big impact on a track like Sebring. However, the gap to the front-runners isn’t too bad. We should be well-prepared for the race and have a reliable car. The whole team will go on pushing hard, and I’m quite optimistic for Saturday.”

Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

“Overall I’m happy with my first ALMS qualifying. There wasn’t much more we could do today. It’s a long race though, and a lot of things can happen. The BMW Z4 GTE is quite good, although we are just at the beginning of its development. However, there’s still a lot of work to do. But we already knew this. I am really enjoying my maiden race weekend with BMW Team RLL. Everything is new for me, but I am getting along really well.”

Joey Hand (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

“Of course we always want to start from further up on the grid. Introducing a new car into such a tough series as the ALMS is a big challenge. The BMW Z4 GTE feels really good already. It’s all about making the next steps now and getting the full potential out of it. We have come a long way within a reasonably short period of time. We are in the mix – and I’m quite confident for the race.”

Jakes Completed His First Test Day With RLL And Ended 11th Overall; Rahal’s Day Ended Early After Only 16 Laps

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Barber Motorsports Park – OPEN TEST
IZOD IndyCar Series
TEST NOTES/QUOTES – Wednesday, March 13, 2013
 
JAKES COMPLETED HIS FIRST INDYCAR TEST WITH RLL AND ENDED 11TH OVERALL; RAHAL’S DAY ENDED EARLY AFTER ONLY 16 LAPS
 
11)       James Jakes              1:07.8912 / 121.960 mph     (9th in P4; ran 71 laps on Wedn)
17)       Mike Conway              1:08.1584 / 121.482 mph     (ran 42 laps on Tues only)
24)       Graham Rahal            1:09.0141 / 119.975 mph     (best lap was in P2 of 4; 54 laps on Tues, 16 Wedn)
 
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “Obviously we are disappointed that we didn’t get to run more but we had a little fuel supply issue in the engine. The engine is going to be fine but we have to ship it back to HPD and it cut our day short.  At the end of the day, the key is to learn and we still have James in the other car and he is going to learn as much as he can. We’ll be alright when we come back here; we’re not worried about it.  Certainly the test has been a trying one but we’re now switching our focus to the season opener in St. Pete. We’re ready to get back there, I can promise you that.”
 
FAST FACTS: Rahal, 24, will compete in his seventh season in a major open wheel series and his first full one with RLL.  His highest series start is pole at St. Pete (2009; street) and Kansas (2009; oval) and his highest finish is a win in St. Pete (2008) in his IndyCar Series debut to make him the youngest winner in series history at 19 years, 93 days old.
 
 
JAMES JAKES,  No, 16 Acorn Stairlifts car today):  “It was nice to get back in the car. I haven’t driven since September of last year so today was a case of dusting off the cobwebs and learning how everyone works at the team. Mike did a great job with the car on the first day.  It was pretty easy to drive really and you can’t ask for much more.  It was a positive day and we will just keep working and hopefully we can carry on the momentum to St. Pete. Obviously Graham had a bad day but we managed to get a lot of work done so hopefully he can look at that and we can get both cars to the sharp end of the grid in St. Petersburg.”
 
FAST FACTS: Jakes, 25, will compete in his third season in the series and first with RLL. He made 31 Indy car starts with Dale Coyne Racing with a best finish of eighth at Toronto and a series-best start of eighth at Motegi.
 
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING… Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing begins their 22nd consecutive season of competition in 2013.  This season marks the first time the team has prepared more than one fulltime entry for the full IZOD IndyCar Series season since 2007 when Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons drove for the team. Simmons was replaced by Ryan Hunter-Reay for the final six of 17 races. The team entered cars in the Indy 500 each year since then and will prepare the No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry for James Jakes for the full 2013 season and will enter the No. 17 blu eCigs entry for Mike Conway in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Conway drove the No. 16 car on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP) and Jakes will take over on Wednesday.
 
NEXT UP:  The 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season opens with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 22-24.
 
PHOTO AND VIDEO AVAILABLE: Media members who register on the IndyCar Series media site have access to photography as well as video. Register for access to photos at: http://www.indycarmedia.com/pages/ApplyforAccess

BMW Z4 GTE Race Debut in Sebring – BMW Team RLL Ready for Fifth ALMS Season

Munich (DE), 12th March 2013. The 2013 season of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) is not the only thing kicking off at the 12 Hours of Sebring (US) this weekend. The race also marks the start of a new era in BMW Motorsport’s programme in North America: This is the first time BMW Team RLL will line up against opposition in the GT class with the newly developed BMW Z4 GTE.

The BMW Z4 GTE debuts in the wake of an extremely successful Sebring scorecard for its predecessor, the BMW M3 GT. BMW Team RLL won the GT class at the endurance classic in Florida in both 2011 and 2012. This year, the 61st staging of the race at the “Sebring International Raceway” will serve as a marker to determine the strength of the new car. At the wheel of a sinister No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE finished in BMW’s Frozen Black will be Bill Auberlen (US), Maxime Martin (BE) and Jörg Müller (DE). The No. 56 car – in classic, Alpine White BMW Motorsport livery – will be driven by Dirk Müller (DE), Joey Hand (US) and John Edwards (US).

Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):

“After all the months of development and preparation with the new BMW Z4 GTE, we are obviously now looking forward to testing ourselves against the opposition for the first time in Sebring. We have been very successful at this 12-hour race in recent years. I am excited to see whether the BMW Z4 GTE will cope as well with the specific demands of this race as its predecessor the BMW M3 GT did. We would like to start the season with a good result. However, the priority is to capitalise on the potential of the new car. This will obviously take a while.”

Bobby Rahal (Team Principal of BMW Team RLL):

“We had a reasonably good test at Sebring. The new BMW Z4 GTE ran relatively reliably, which is the first battle at a place like Sebring. I don't know how we stack up against the competition, because we didn't run with many of them and track conditions changed. The drivers seemed to be happy with the handling of the car. I guess I'm never confident going into any race – and particularly not going into Sebring. However, we can be quite happy with the way our preparation program went. Let’s wait and see what the season opener has in store for us.”

Bill Auberlen (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

“This year will be my 20th time at the 12 Hours of Sebring and, after driving the new BMW Z4 GTE at our tests, I’m looking forward to my anniversary even more. I think we’re looking quite good, considering the early phase in our development program. It’s a lot of fun to drive the car and my new teammate, Maxime Martin, is fantastic. There are not many things someone can do for 20 years without it ever getting a little boring. Racing is one of those things. I am more passionate about it every year.”

Maxime Martin (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

“I’ve heard many great things about Sebring. The track is completely ‘American Style’. By that I mean it is very bumpy with walls everywhere. It is quite different to the European circuits I’m used to. The BMW Z4 GTE made a good impression on me in our two-day test at Sebring. I’m really looking forward to the race.”

Jörg Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 55):

“I really enjoyed my return to Sebring in 2012. The atmosphere in Florida is simply sensational. You can sense just how pleased the ALMS fans are that the winter break is finally over. The new season is welcomed with a big party. BMW Team RLL has prepared intensely for this weekend. We will do our best.”

Dirk Müller (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

“I’m always excited to start the season, especially at Sebring. This year almost everything is new, from the car and tyres to my two new team-mates. We are obviously well aware it will be very difficult to win the GT class three years in a row, especially with a new car. However, I know everyone in the team is extremely motivated to do well.”

Joey Hand (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

“Sebring has become a very special place for me with two consecutive wins. In fact, I still hear from people about how exciting last year’s finish was. GT racing in the ALMS – especially at Sebring – is outstanding. It is a race and a place that makes me drive every lap as hard as I can.”

John Edwards (BMW Z4 GTE – car number 56):

“I’ve raced in support races to the 12 Hours in previous seasons, but have not been here for four years. Because of this, it was very nice to be able to test here and familiarise myself with the Sebring circuit. I’ve kept my eye on ALMS competition in past years and I’m delighted to make my debut at Sebring with BMW and BMW Team RLL.”

Note to editors: To put you in the mood for the start of the ALMS season, you can find a video of the BMW Z4 GTE tests at Sebring here: http://youtu.be/oiDmIqd1iEU

Conway and Rahal Finished Day 1 of IndyCar Pre-Season Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park Fourth and Twenty-First Respectively

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Barber Motorsports Park – OPEN TEST
IZOD IndyCar Series
TEST NOTES/QUOTES – March 12, 2013
 
CONWAY AND RAHAL FINISHED DAY 1 OF THE INDYCAR PRE-SEASON OPEN TEST AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK FOURTH AND TWENTY FIRST RESPECTIVELY
 
4)         Mike Conway             1:08.1584 / 121.482 mph
21)       Graham Rahal           1:09.0141 / 119.975 mph
 
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I’m kind of baffled right now. The Midas / Big O Tires car obviously has some speed in it but it’s definitely hard to drive.  I don’t know if it’s me but the car definitely has a lot of oversteer, understeer characteristics that are making driving it extremely challenging. But even with that I feel like we should be able to put a lap together but any time I put on sticker tires and push hard, I just go slower so I’m a little bit confused as to why.”
 
FAST FACTS: Rahal, 24, will compete in his seventh season in a major open wheel series and his first full one with RLL.  His highest series start is pole at St. Pete (2009; street) and Kansas (2009; oval) and his highest finish is a win in St. Pete (2008) in his IndyCar Series debut to make him the youngest winner in series history at 19 years, 93 days old.
 

MIKE CONWAY, No. 17 blu eCigs Dallara/Honda/Firestone (tested the No, 16 Acorn Stairlifts car today):  “Today was about getting comfortable in a car, working with the guys and seeing how they work and geting myself dialed in for Long Beach. I think we got through a lot of stuff, and hopefully helped the guys out for tomorrow. James (Jakes) will be in the car, and hopefully, he’ll like some of the things we got through today and be quick out of the box. Good day. Productive day and I think Graham and I got through quite a bit of work, so when the team comes back for the race weekend. They will be strong.”
 
FAST FACTS: Conway, from Bromley, Kent, England, will drive the No. 17 blu eCigs entry for RLL at Long Beach and tested the No 16 car today… He made 53 starts in IZOD IndyCar series competition between 2009-2012 with teams such as Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2009-2010) where he earned his first podium of third place at Sonoma Raceway. He joined Andretti Autosport in 2011 and earned his first series victory at Long Beach after passing eventual second and third place finishers Briscoe and Franchitti to lead the final 14 laps.  He moved to AJ Foyt Racing for 2012 where his season highlights were a second place qualifying position on the streets of Baltimore and a third place finish on the streets of Toronto… He has competed at BMP three times. In 2012 he qualified fourth and finished seventh for A.J. Foyt Racing. He qualified 16th and retired in 22nd after contact in 2011 for Andretti Autosport and qualified second with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2010 and finished ninth. The test will be his first time in an IndyCar since Baltimore where he qualified second, started 12th after a 10-spot grid penalty and finished 16th.
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING… Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing begins their 22nd consecutive season of competition in 2013.  This season marks the first time the team has prepared more than one fulltime entry for the full IZOD IndyCar Series season since 2007 when Scott Sharp and Jeff Simmons drove for the team. Simmons was replaced by Ryan Hunter-Reay for the final six of 17 races. The team entered cars in the Indy 500 each year since then and will prepare the No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry for James Jakes for the full 2013 season and will enter the No. 17 blu eCigs entry for Mike Conway in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Conway drove the No. 16 car on Tuesday at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP) and Jakes will take over on Wednesday.
 
NEXT UP:  The Open Test will resume tomorrow from 10-12 and 1-5 local time.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.
 
PHOTO AND VIDEO AVAILABLE: Media members who register on the IndyCar Series media site have access to photography as well as video. Register for access to photos at: http://www.indycarmedia.com/pages/ApplyforAccess