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/BIGTIRES 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
JAKESBEST START/
FINISH IN ST. PETE:                       20th (2010 & ‘11) / 15th (2011); will be his third race here
JAKESHIGHEST ROAD/
STREET COURSE FINISH:            8th at Motegi (road) in 2011 / 8th at Toronto (street) in 2012
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING RETURNS TOMULTI-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 DAYOF 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