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 / BIGTIRES 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/BIGTIRES 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
JAKESBEST START/
FINISH AT BARBER:                    20th / 16th – both in 2012; will be his third race here
JAKESHIGHEST 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 OFCOMPETITIVE 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 AFTERGOOD 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