Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama — Advance Notes/Quotes

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Pre-Race Notes

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – Barber Motor­sports Park, Birm­ingham, Alabama

Round 3 of 18 in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series 

 

DATE:

Friday – Sunday, April 25 – 27, 2014

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:      

Tape-delayed on NBC Sports Network at 1 a.m. ET Sunday, April 27; live on the IMS Radio Network and www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)

RACE BROADCAST:

Live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, April 27 at 2:30 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

2013 WINNER:                                 

Ryan Hunter-Reay

2013 POLESITTER:                       

Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:07.0871; 123.422 mph)

 

RLLR TOP START/FINISH AT BARBER:                     

11th / 23rd after mechan­ical & fueling issues, fastest race lap –all by Jakes in 2013; 2 events

 

G. RAHAL’S BEST START/FINISH AT BARBER:

8th / 4th — both in 2012 with SCCGR; 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

 

SERVIA’S BEST START/FINISH AT BARBER:

6th / 5th – both in 2011 with NHR; will be his fourth race here

SERVIA’S BEST INDY CAR START/FINISH:

Pole at Surfers Paradise (street) in 2005 / 1st at Montreal (road) in 2005

 

NEWS & NOTES:

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING — THIRD RACE AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK

The 2014 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will mark the third IndyCar Series race for the team at Barber Motor­sports Park (BMP).   In 2013, Rahal set a lap time fast enough to progress to Round 2 and qualify in the top-12 if he had been in Group 2 but he was in Group 1 and ulti­mately qual­i­fied 21st.  He had to pit for a new nose on the opening lap after the field checked up and he hit Oriol Servia. He moved up to 12th place but ran out of fuel on the final lap due to a malfunc­tion in the fueling system and dropped to 21st.  James Jakes qual­i­fied 11th in 2013 but had to pit early in the race when the camber shims fell out of the left rear upright which put him two laps down to the leader. He soldiered on through fueling issues, set the fastest lap of the race and finished 23rd.  In 2012, Takuma Sato set the third fastest time in Friday’s first prac­tice for the team 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.

For 2014, RLL has entered the No. 15 National Guard Honda-Dallara-Firestone car for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda-Dallara-Firestone car for Oriol Servia to bring the team’s total to five entries for this event.

 

GRAHAM ON BARBER & PREPARATION SINCE THE OPEN TEST HERE

The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be Graham Rahal’s fifth race here. The field returns to BMP after an Open Test here March 17 – 18.  In 2013, Rahal set a lap time fast enough to progress to Round 2 and qualify in the top-12 if he had been in Group 2 but he was in Group 1 and ulti­mately qual­i­fied 21st.  He had to pit for a new nose on the opening lap after the field checked up and he hit Servia. He moved up to 12th place but ran out of fuel on the final lap due to a malfunc­tion in the fueling system and dropped to 21st.  He started 8th, led one lap and finished fourth here in 2012 for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). He started 10th and finished 18th in 2011 for SCCGR and started 15th and finished 17th for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2010.

I think that we will show up to Barber and be very compet­i­tive. We will certainly be changing a lot from when we tested there but with some of the things we have found lately, I feel very posi­tive about the upcoming races. Barber should be fun.  I have been fast there before so I hope we can get back on track (performance-wise) there.  It’s a diffi­cult course because it has a lot of very high speed corners, and several really slow ones. It’s hard to get a good balance out of the car on both of those parts of the track. It’s a diffi­cult track to tackle, but I feel that with the team we have we can do that. My favorite part is the back section of the track and it is extremely tricky.  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.”

 

SERVIA AND BARBER – “ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TRACKS IN THE COUNTRY

The Honda Indy GP of Alabama will be Servia’s fourth race here and first with RLL at this track. His best finish is fifth in 2011 and best start is sixth the same season with Newman/Haas Racing.  In 2013 he drove for Panther/DRR where he started 18th and finished 15th.  In 2012, he drove for Lotus/DRR where he qual­i­fied 26th and finished 13th.

My first time at Barber was my best so far. Back in 2011 with Newman/Haas we were very compet­i­tive the whole weekend and qual­i­fied in the top-six and finished fifth. The next year with DRR we showed up with the Lotus engine which, to put it in good words didn’t really perform as desired but we still did a decent job by passing 13 cars in the race and finishing 13th. Last year, unfor­tu­nately in the first lap I got caught in a first lap inci­dent also involving my now team mate Graham Rahal and had to come in to change the front wing and was basi­cally never able to get back to the front. I hope we can make this year my best showing yet at one the most beau­tiful tracks in the country.”

 

GRAHAM ON THE PERFORMANCE AND POTENTIAL AFTER TWO RACES

Rahal set the second fastest lap time on Friday in the St. Peters­burg season-opener but lost his two fastest laps in qual­i­fying due to bringing out the red flag after sliding into the tires on the wet course and had to settle for a 21st place start. He improved seven spots to finish 14th. In Long Beach he ran as high as sixth place after starting 23rd but finished 13th after being hit from behind by rookie Mikhail Aleshin.

It has been and up and down season so far. We have shown pace at times and strug­gled at others. I do feel though following the Long Beach race that we have found some­thing that could help us for the remainder of the season. I feel the poten­tial is huge, and I look forward to what is to come.  (On gaining posi­tions on race starts and throughout the events:)  It shows we have the race craft and the pace to be up front, but we must qualify better. In St. Pete I made a huge mistake and I think Long Beach we simply strug­gled. Again though, when it comes time to race we can run with anyone.”

 

SERVIA ON GRABING THE BULL BY THE HORNS

Luckily all of the IndyCar teams partic­i­pated in ‘Spring Training’ here at Barber not long ago. Unfor­tu­nately what was supposed to be a two day test ended up being short­ened to just one after­noon which was barely enough to get my rust off from the long winter. Now coming here with one full race weekend under our belts I feel much better prepared and ready to grab the bull by the horns! Barber is a very special track that requires almost unlim­ited commit­ment to go fast. A lot of fast blind chal­lenging corners will only reward you if you and the car are totally committed to them and if you don’t feel 100 percent comfort­able with the car or the track you will pay a high price on the stopwatch.”

 

GRAHAM AND ORIOL ON THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGES IN 2014

I think the new tires have spun us up a bit,” said Rahal.  “We have certainly had to learn a little more about what the car and tire wants. I think just everyone getting to work together and getting on the same page will make the biggest change for us as we go forward.”

The first chal­lenge has been to under­stand the tires with the limited track time that we had so far,” added Servia. “Although Fire­stone does an excel­lent job bringing very consis­tent tires, they have changed them a little bit from last year so not only do you have to drive them a little differ­ently but also the car suspen­sion setups have to be a little different. I think that after Long Beach we have a pretty good idea of what the street race tire needs and I hope we can figure out quickly what the Barber (road course) tire requires. Not only is it a fast track but it is also very abra­sive so making sure that your setup is not just fast but also doesn’t abuse them too much is going to be a key factor in the race. The game is not only trying to be the fastest on sticker (new) tires but more impor­tantly be fastest when the tires are old which chances are will be the case when the Check­ered flag comes down.”

 

ORIOL AND GRAHAM ON THE COMPETITION SO FAR THIS SEASON

I think that, to no surprise to anyone, every­body has been extremely compet­i­tive thus far no matter what team or driver,” said Servia. “I don’t think I have ever seen a cham­pi­onship where absolutely every one of the entries has a true shot at winning each race. Even the rookies that usually take a little longer to capi­talize on their speed have had great show­ings with Munoz and Aleshin finishing third and sixth respec­tively in the last race.”

Everyone you would expect to be good has been, so no surprises for me,” added Rahal.

 

GRAHAM ON ONE CAR TEAM VS. TWO CAR TEAM

I think it’s great to have Oriol.  The best thing is we were on the same page all weekend in Long   Beach. We both felt that we needed to improve the car in certain areas and I think we have done that. Having a team­mate that is saying the same things I am makes a world of a difference.”

 

ORIOL’S LONG BEACH RECAP

It feels great to have a race weekend under­neath us,” said Servia about the Long Beach event. “So much inten­sity from every­body in the team gets put in during a race weekend that no amount of testing can ever truly make you advance like a race does. With that being said, I feel we did a huge amount of work at Long   Beach and I feel 10 steps ahead of where we were 15 days ago. We tried all types of setup in the car searching for extra grip that would make Graham and me happy with the car perfor­mance and by race day we both ended up extremely satis­fied with it. In terms of pure results we had a decent showing, 12th in qual­i­fying and seventh in the race is not too bad consid­ering the little prep we had before the race. But in all honesty we want a lot more than that.”

RLL