Monthly Archives: April 2013

Long Beach Next for BMW Team RLL Z4 GTE Debut Season

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 16, 2013… BMW Team RLL travels to Long Beach, California on April 20th for the second round of the 2013 American Le Mans Series season and the next act in the debut season of the BMW Z4 GTE.

The new machines had an excellent first race at the season-opening 12 Hours of Sebring in March. Running competitive lap times at the sharp end of the GT field for the first two-thirds of the race, the team ultimately finished fourth and seventh after mechanical problems hindered any chance at challenging for the podium. With some five weeks to integrate the findings from Sebring, the Bobby Rahal-led team is confident the new cars are ready for Long Beach – a race the team has always finished with at least one car on the podium.

In 2009, the debut year of the M3 GT, Dirk Müller and Tommy Milner finished third in the No. 92 car. In 2010, Bill Auberlen and Milner drove the No. 92 M3 GT to third. 2011 saw Joey Hand and Dirk Müller win the race from the pole on the way to the season’s driver’s title. Last year, Hand and Müller finished second in the No. 56 car.

“We have had very competitive cars here over the last four years; we have been on the podium every year and won in 2011,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “While I think we are at a top-speed disadvantage currently with the Z4, the car has very good handling and on a street circuit that’s probably the most critical part. I suspect we can be competitive again this year even though the car is new. Certainly we are optimistic although, as we saw at Sebring, the competition is extremely tight and there are more players now that actually have a chance of winning the race.”

Long Beach is one of the most unique venues on the schedule. The temporary street circuit packs eleven turns in only 1.968-miles and includes Shoreline Drive, the city’s signature road that runs along the harbor. Despite being the shortest race of the season – at two-hours – the Long Beach event challenges the teams on every level – including the schedule. Because the weekend includes IndyCar, track time is limited to an early morning two-hour practice and a fifteen-minute qualifying session at 5:15 p.m. local time on Friday, April 19th. No other track time is available before Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. start.

Since Sebring, all BMW Team RLL drivers have been racing BMWs in other series. Bill Auberlen (with co-driver Paul Dalla Lana) finished fifth in the Rolex race at Barber Motorsports Park on April 6 in a Turner Motorsports M3. The duo currently stands fifth in GT class points. Maxime Martin (and co-drivers Bas Leinders (BE), Yelmer Buurman (NL) finished eighth in a Marc VDS Racing Z4 GT3 in the opening round of the 2013 Blancpain Endurance Series, at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, on 14th April. Joey Hand participated in four days of pre-season DTM testing in Barcelona, Spain and Hockenheim, Germany – the site of the May 5th opening round – in his BMW Team RMG M3 DTM. Hand set the quickest time of all DTM drivers on the third day of the test. Dirk Müller (with co-drivers Jörg Müller (DE) and Augusto Farfus (BR)) made an impressive start to the VLN Endurance Championship for the BMW Z4 GT3 securing BMW’s 34th overall victory at the at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife behind the wheel of a BMW Team Shubert BMW Z4 GT3.

On Thursday evening of race week, BMW of North America, LLC, will co-sponsor the Road Racing Drivers Club Evening with Brian Redman presented by Firestone at the RRDC’s fifth annual West Coast banquet. Redman raced for BMW in 1975 and '76, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1975 (with co-drivers Hans Stuck, Sam Posey and Allan Moffat) in a BMW 3.0 CSL on the first year of BMW's official foray into American sports-car racing. He also won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1976 (with Peter Gregg and John Fitzpatrick) also in the BMW 3.0 CSL. “The BMW CSLs were fabulous machines, and the Sebring and Daytona wins remain the highlights of my career,” said Redman, who actually drove eight of the twelve hours to the '75 Sebring victory.

Bill Auberlen, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “Long Beach is an amazing jewel on the ALMS calendar. I have never won my home race and enough is enough. I have been all over the podium, but a victory has been very hard to come by. I’ve driven more than a few BMWs in my career and I know the new BMW Z4 GTE has all the right moves to reach that top step.”

Maxime Martin, driver No. 55 Z4 GTE – “I'm really excited to discover the Long Beach track! A street circuit is always difficult to learn, but I'm looking forward to it! Bill is the perfect team mate for this race because of his experience at his home race. I'm sure I will be up to speed quickly!”

Joey Hand, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE – “A key to success at Long Beach is to unload fast. We’ve been able to do that most every year and I don’t see any reason that we won’t do it again this year. With a lower center of gravity and a wider stance than our previous M3s, the new Z4 GTE should be more agile and easier to place in the confines of the Long Beach circuit.”

Dirk Müller, driver No. 56 Z4 GTE –“After a really successful debut with our new BMW Z4 GTE I am looking forward for the next highlight at Long Beach. The track suits my driving style and I love the street circuits. The team has been working hard following Sebring and I am excited to bring momentum from the VLN win at the Nurburgring this past weekend.”

Qualifying and live streaming of the race can be found on ESPN3.com. Follow BMW Team RLL on Twitter at @BMWUSARacing for “from-the-pit-box” updates all weekend. Television coverage will be broadcast on ABC television on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET. More information on the program can be found at www.bmwusa.com and www.alms.com.

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, 117 MINI passenger car dealers, and 34 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.

Information about BMW Group products is available to consumers via the Internet at: www.bmwgroupna.com

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 over two decades, compiling 28 victories, 42 poles and three series championships (1992, 2010, 2011) 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.

Journalist note: Information about BMW Group and its products in the USA is available to journalists on-line at www.bmwgroupusanews.com and www.press.bmwna.com.
 

Rahal Dropped from 12th to 21st After Running out of Fuel on the Final Lap of the Honda Indy GP of Alabama; Jakes Finished 23rd After Problems

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – Barber Motorsports Park
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, April 7, 2013

MIDAS / BIG O TIRES DRIVER RAHAL DROPPED FROM 12TH TO 21ST AFTER RUNNING OUT OF FUEL ON THE FINAL LAP OF THE HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA; ACORN STAIRLIFTS DRIVER JAKES FINISHED 23RD AFTER PROBLEMS

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Acorn Stairlifts Driver Jakes to Start 11th for the Honda Indy GP of Alabama; Midas / Big O Tires Driver Rahal to Start 21st

 
Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – Barber Motorsports Park
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 6, 2013
 
 
ACORN STAIRLIFTS DRIVER JAKES TO START 11TH FOR THE HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA; MIDAS/BIG O TIRES DRIVER RAHAL TO START 21ST
 
POLE:  Ryan Hunter-Reay          1:07.0871 / 123.422 mph            (Set in Round 3)
11th:     James Jakes                 1:07.8832 / 121.974 mph            (Set in Round 2, Group 2)
21st:     Graham Rahal               1:07:4184 / 122.815 mph            (Set in Round 1, Group 1)
 
SUMMARY: Graham Rahal set the 11th fastest lap in Group 1, Round 1 and did not advance to Round 2. Near the end of his run, he was on what was his fastest lap to that point and closed on a car that had ended his run and Graham’s overall lap time suffered. His best lap time would have allowed him to advance to Round 2 had he been in Group 2.  James Jakes advanced from Round 1, Group 2 to Round 2 by setting the fifth fastest lap time (1:07.54). In Round 2, Jakes set the 12th fastest lap time to earn his best starting position at this track.
 
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “The Midas / Big O Tires car is not too far off. In our qualifying group, Dixon blocked me on our fast lap. Was it going to be that much better? No, probably only a tenth or two and we wouldn’t have advanced based on lap times. It looks like we got the harder group because we would have been around third with our lap time in the second group and advanced. Unfortunately our group was stacked and I was P11 with a 1:07.4 and that would have put me in the top-six in Group 2 and would have advanced if we did that time there. We just have to keep our heads down and work hard for tomorrow. We will have to have an alternate strategy because you can’t pass all of those cars.”
 
FAST FACTS: Will be his fourth race here. Started 8th, led 1 lap and finished 4th here in 2012 with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing. Started 10th and finished 18th in 2011 with SCCGR. Started 15th and finished 17th for Sarah Fisher Racing in ‘10… 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 recorded 92 starts between the Champ Car World Series and IZOD IndyCar Series (2007-2012) 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:  “I was a little disappointed in qualifying to be honest; we thought we had a little bit more than that in the Acorn Stairlifts car.  We were relatively quick on Friday and this morning we seemed to have taken a few steps back. But we are in a position where we can get a good result so we will make sure we work hard overnight, have a good strategy and get a good result for the Acorn Stairlifts team.”
 
FAST FACTS: Will be his third race here. He qualified 20th and finished 16th in 2012 and qualified and retired in 25th place in 2011 due to mechanical failure – both with Dale Coyne Racing. He was 9th fastest in Practice 4 of the 2013 Open Test at BMP and 11th overall…. 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.
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT BARBER… This will mark the second IndyCar race for the team at Barber Motorsports Park. In 2012, the team prepared an entry for Takuma Sato who set the third fastest time in Friday’s first practice and was fastest in the wet second session but traffic limited his qualifying performance to 16th.  In the race he passed four cars for 12th place on red alternate tires but struggled on primary tires and ultimately retired in 24th place due to mechanical failure after 52/90 laps.
 
NEXT UP:  The morning warm-up will take place tomorrow from 11:00-11:30 a.m. CT. The 90-lap Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised by NBC Sports Network beginning at 3 p.m. ET.  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

Jakes and Rahal 9th and 22nd Fastest Respectively in Practice for the Honda Indy GP of Alabama

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – Barber Motorsports Park
PRACTICE NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, April 5, 2013
IZOD IndyCar Series 
 
JAKES AND RAHAL 9TH AND 22ND RESPECTIVELY IN PRACTICE FOR THE HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA
 
FASTEST:        Helio Castroneves         1:08.5540 / 120.781 mph
9th:                   James Jakes                 1:08.9479 / 120.091 mph           
22nd:                Graham Rahal               1:09:6315 / 118.912 mph                       
 
GRAHAM RAHAL, No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “We tried to come back here with a setup more like what Mike (Conway) and James (Jakes) ran at the test. There are a few minor differences but I can’t think that those would tip the car over but we’re struggling with the same things that we did at the test. I just can’t turn the car; the car is steering me, not me steering it.  At the same time, without a doubt we didn’t get a new tire run at the end and I will say that on the one lap that I did, up until the point that I went into Viso’s (who went off course) gravel, I was up about a half of a second.  Clearly there is a lot of time there in the tires, A half of a second would move us halfway up the grid at least right now. We haven’t made the gains that I am hoping for but we’re going to keep working on it. Last year I started up front and had a great race here and I expect to do the same this year in the Midas / Big O Tires car. We just have a bit of work to do.”
 
FAST FACTS: Will be his fourth race here. Started 8th, led 1 lap and finished 4th here in 2012 with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing. Started 10th and finished 18th in 2011 with SCCGR. Started 15th and finished 17th for Sarah Fisher Racing in ‘10… 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 recorded 92 starts between the Champ Car World Series and IZOD IndyCar Series (2007-2012) 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:  “It was a pretty good session considering we ran one set of tires for the session.  You look at the guys that ran one set in that session — although you can’t know for sure who did but you think you know – we’re pretty happy. We are pretty happy with our progress and will just keep making improvements and concentrate on making sure we improve the car in every session like everybody else. We’re always right there, or in the ballpark with everyone else in the first session but we just need to make sure that we improve like everybody else. The Acorn Stairlifts car was actually very good. I made a mistake on my fastest lap and did a little bit of grass tracking so I was quite shocked when we came up with the lap time still. We will work overnight to keep improving but we are hoping to get the Acorn Stairlifts car up there this weekend.”
 
FAST FACTS: Will be his third race here. He qualified 20th and finished 16th in 2012 and qualified and retired in 25th place in 2011 due to mechanical failure – both with Dale Coyne Racing. He was 9th fastest in Practice 4 of the 2013 Open Test at BMP and 11th overall…. 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.
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT BARBER… This will mark the second IndyCar race for the team at Barber Motorsports Park. In 2012, the team prepared an entry for Takuma Sato who set the third fastest time in Friday’s first practice and was fastest in the wet second session but traffic limited his qualifying performance to 16th.  In the race he passed four cars for 12th place on red alternate tires but struggled on primary tires and ultimately retired in 24th place due to mechanical failure after 52/90 laps.
 
NEXT UP:  Practice will take place tomorrow morning from 8:00-8:30 a.m. CT. Qualifying will take place from 10:25-11:35 AM on Saturday and will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. ET.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.  The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 3:00 PM ET Sunday, April 7.
 
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

Rahal and Jakes Looking Forward to Returning to Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – Barber Motorsports Park, Leeds, Alabama
Pre-Race Notes
Round 2 of 16 in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series

 
DATE:                                            Friday – Sunday, April 5-7, 2013
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:       Tape-delayed on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. ET Saturday, April 6; live on the IMS Radio
                                                       Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)
RACE BROADCAST:                    Live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, April 7 at 3 p.m. ET
RADIO BROADCAST:                  The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM 211 & Sirius 211
TRACK LAYOUT:                          2.38-mile, 17-turn road course
RACE LENGTH:                            90 laps / 214.2 miles 
2012 WINNER:                              Will Power
2012 POLESITTER:                      Helio Castroneves (1:10.4768; 117.485 mph)
RLLR TOP START/
FINISH AT BARBER:                   16th / 24th after mechanical failure – both by Sato in 2012 (1 race here for RLL)
G. RAHAL’S BEST START/
FINISH AT BARBER:                   8th / 4th  – both in 2012; will be his fourth 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 AT BARBER:                    20th / 16th – both in 2012; will be his third race here
JAKES’ HIGHEST SERIES
START/FINISH:                             8th at Motegi (road) in 2011 / 8th at Toronto (street) in 2012
 
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING MAKES SECOND START AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK
The 2013 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will mark the second IndyCar Series race for the team at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP).  Last year the team prepared an entry for Takuma Sato here. He set the third fastest lap time in Friday’s first practice at BMP and was fastest in the wet second session but traffic limited his qualifying performance on Saturday to 16th.  In the race he passed Newgarden, Barrichello, Hunter-Reay and Andretti for 12th place on red alternate tires but struggled on primary tires and ultimately retired in 24th place due to mechanical failure after 52/90 laps.  For 2013, 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 three entries for this event (2012-2013) and will attempt to break the stronghold Team Penske has on this event.  In the three IndyCar events held here since 2010, Team Penske drivers have won pole and the race each year.
 
PRE-SEASON OPEN TEST AT BMP
The series held an Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park March 12-13 and 27 of the 28 car/driver combinations recorded laps faster than the track record and the top 16 cars were separated by a second.  Graham Rahal was scheduled to run both days of the test but a fuel supply issue on the second day limited his lap total to 16 that day and a total of 70 for the two days.  Mike Conway tested the No. 16 car on Tuesday and James Jakes took over on Wednesday. Jakes set the ninth fastest time in the final practice session and was ranked 11th overall.  That data, plus information gained during the St. Petersburg season-opener has both Rahal and Jakes optimistic for a competitive run at BMP.

DESPITE LIMITED LAPS AT THE OPEN TEST, GRAHAM IS POSITIVE OF A COMPETITIVE RETURN
The 2013 race at BMP will mark Graham's fourth here. He qualified eighth last year, led one lap and finished fourth with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). The previous season he qualified 10th and finished 18th in 2011 with SCCGR. In 2010 he qualified 15th and finished 17th for Sarah Fisher Racing. Despite limited test miles at BMP in March, he is optomistic about the weekend after positive gains in St. Pete.
                “James (Jakes) and Mike (Conway) had really good tests at Barber so while we certainly didn’t have the speed nor the amount of laps that we wanted, I think we found some things at St. Petersburg and came together as a team setup-wise there that will really help us at Barber. They are two totally different types of tracks but I really, firmly believe this is something that is going to help us down the road; I feel really positive about that.  With (race engineer) Gerry and (Jakes’ race engineer) Eddie combined, I think that James and I will both have really good weekends. I feel really good after our performance in St. Pete in the race. Even without a high pressure fuel pump and having electrical issues, for us to maintain the leaders pace, it felt pretty good so I have pretty high hopes for the Midas / Big O Tires team for the rest of this year.”
 
JAMES IS LOOKING FORWARD TO RETURNING TO BMP AFTER A GOOD TEST HERE IN MARCH
Jakes will make his third start at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. While with Dale Coyne Racing, he qualified 20th and finished 16th in 2012 and qualified and retired in 25th place in 2011 due to mechanical failure. His pace at the test in March bodes well for a competitive weekend at BMP. 
“It was a good test. Not having driven for a while, it was nice just to get back in the car and take things step-by-step. Generally we have a good car at Barber and I am excited to get back there this weekend to see where we stand. I think we did a great job of developing the car over the two days and I was just getting used to the team. I am really excited to get back out there.”
 
GRAHAM RECALLS HIS COMPETITIVE RUN HERE LAST YEAR
“It was a great weekend; really smooth,” said Rahal of his experience here last year that netted a fourth place finish. “The car felt great in qualifying. I thought we really had a chance to make it into the top-six (in qualifying) but unfortunately Ryan Hunter-Reay crashed early on in qualifying and therefore we didn’t get any laps in but we started reasonably close to the front end of the grid, we passed some guys and made our way up to the front and damn near had a podium. Helio (Castroneves) and I were fighting in the end and he was blocking me like crazy, which is now legal, so at the end of the day we didn’t quite get the podium result we wanted but I felt really good about the car and now I know what it takes there to have some success so that’s what we are going to be looking to do this year.”
 
GRAHAM ON WHY THE HONDA INDY GP OF ALABAMA IS ONE OF HIS FAVORITE EVENTS
“Barber Motorsports Park is one of my favorites of the year because it’s a beautiful place to go race. The track is great, the people are really friendly and the food is always good.  It’s a beautiful part of this country and with the track being hidden up in the hillside, its pretty cool. I have always enjoyed that and after having some success last year, I look forward to getting back there.”
 
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THEIR FAVORITE — AND HARDEST — PARTS OF BMP
“My favorite part is the back section of the track and it is extremely tricky,” said Rahal. “There are a lot of really high-speed, high (G-force) load, very physical corners and that is difficult. It’s very easy to make a mistake. I would say that not only is it my favorite, but it’s probably the hardest part of the track.”
                “My favorite part of the course is the first corner after the Start/Finish; the quick left hander and the long right down the hill,” added Jakes. “That start of the lap is really key — especially coming out of Turn 2 — to getting a good exit down to the hairpin, especially in the race when you have a chance to overtake. I think the hardest part of the track is probably the quick chicane in the back and over the crest. It’s another area that you have to make sure you pull it together to get the maximum out of the lap time.”
 
GRAHAM’S REPORT CARD FOR THE PERFORMANCE AT ST. PETERSBURG
“We are working on unloading a better car when we show up at the track. And what we found in St. Pete is really going to help us do that for the reminder of the road and street courses this year.  The guys did a phenomenal job at St. Pete, making a lot of really big changes. There was a lot thrown at them to try to improve the car in a short period of time and I think that now, with where we are going to begin, I feel we will be much more competitive from the start. I was really pleased with the way the entire team is operating. I have never felt a team as close as this one is in terms of personalities within and the way everyone is gelling together. For something that has come together in the past few months, and with staff that was added recently too, it’s impressive and I am very proud of everyone. They are doing a great job.”
 
JAKES ON AREAS HE IS FOCUSED ON FOR IMPROVEMENT
“Improvement wise, we just need to make sure everyone is working together as well as possible and everything is working in the pit stops and our stops are great. Obviously it’s a new bunch of guys working together and it is going to take a little bit of time to gel.  Everyone is very encouraged and hopeful of doing a great job this year so it should be great for the Acorn Stairlifts team.”
 
JAKES ON THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION IN ST. PETE AND THE SEASON AHEAD
“I think the closeness of the field and the fact that Firestone slightly adjusting the tire compounds will make the racing even more exciting this year. No one knows what they have to work with at the moment and it will take a few races to determine that — especially switching back and forth from street and road course. Once we get a bit further into the season, people will have a better idea but as of now there is a little bit of uncertainty especially towards the tire compound and that should keep things interesting.” 
 
JAKES AND RAHAL ON ANY SURPRISES AT ST. PETE
“Tristan (Vautier) was probably the only one who surprised me,” said Jakes. “He was kind of the lead Honda at the time and I don’t think anyone expected that. As for who could have a breakout year, outside of us, I would say Tristan.”
“(James) Hinchcliffe getting his first win was not a surprise to me,” added Rahal. “I think Andretti and Penske have the best cars right now and they seem to be there again this year. James was bound to win eventually. I think it will be the same guys fighting for it this year. I think (Ryan) Hunter-Reay is going to have a great year, he didn’t have the start to the year he was looking for but neither did Dario (Franchitti), (Scott) Dixon or (Will) Power and I think we are right there. To be honest, we passed Dario and were quicker than Dixie (Dixon) and in many parts of the race we were as quick as the leader and we didn’t have full horsepower so I feel pretty good about where we stand as a team and I think we have a lot of potential going forward.”
 

-RLL-