Pippa Mann Completes First Indy Car Test With RLL at Loudon

LOUDON, NH (July 5, 2011) - With 20 Indy Car race wins and 150 top-10 finishes on tracks around the globe, there isn’t much that is new to Rahal Letterman Lanigan. But the addi­tion of New Hamp­shire Motor Speedway to the IZOD Indy Car Series schedule and the blos­soming rela­tion­ship between RLL and Indy Lights star Pippa Mann brought many new vari­ables to today’s test at the one-mile oval in Loudon, New Hampshire.

The British pilot will open a three-race deal with RLL to drive the team’s #30 Dallara/Honda/Firestone Indy Car at Loudon on August 14, so Mann and the Ohio-based squad took the oppor­tu­nity today to join Will Power for a one-day test session. The young driver had a solid day in her first outing in the RLL Indy Car, turning 168 laps on the chal­lenging oval. Mann logged 75 laps in the morning and 93 in the after­noon, whit­tling tenths of seconds off of her time until she was able to circum­nav­i­gate the Loudon layout in less than 23 seconds.

“We had a pretty good day overall today,” reported Mann. “We worked on a lot of things, but most impor­tantly, in getting good commu­ni­ca­tion between myself, (engi­neers) Jay (O’Connell) and Adam (Schaechter). It was great also having Penske here as a bench mark for us, and it looks as though on our very first day working together we are most defi­nitely in the ball park. I felt good and I look forward to coming back here next month!”

The full day’s effort allowed Rahal Letterman Lanigan to try many different vari­ables on the car, which will give the team a base­line to work from when it returns for the August 11 – 14 race weekend. It was impor­tant not only for the comfort level of working with a new driver, but also for working at a new track, since RLL has not been to Loudon since 1995. The track does have fond memo­ries for the team’s co-owner Bobby Rahal however, as the three-time Indy Car cham­pion won the inau­gural open-wheel race in Loudon in 1992. Rahal was on hand today for the test and was encour­aged by the day’s results.

“We finished our first test with Pippa at Loudon, and I thought it went very well,” Rahal said. “Pippa did well with her feed­back and we were able to sort a great number of items including several key engi­neering planned test items. Obvi­ously this test gives both her and the team a good starting point when we come back here for the race weekend. Anything you can do to help improve your chances in this field in a posi­tive step for all of us.”

Mann had also never seen Loudon in her racing career, but a day’s worth of orbiting the oval gave her a good bit of knowl­edge about what to expect from the track the locals call ‘The Magic Mile’ upon her return.

“The track itself is a very cool, tough little track. There’s a fairly nice bump between one and two, which while not Iowa-esque is going to have quite a few people playing catch when we come back here for race weekend,” said Mann. “It will be extremely inter­esting to see whether pole ends up being a flat out lap, or whether the pole sitter will still have to lift. Defi­nitely not an easy place to try and run full throttle! The pit in and pit out are very tight, and that will almost certainly affect the race, and it will be inter­esting to see whether we can run two wide through the corners here! One things for sure– it’s certainly not going to be easy!”

The team will go back to its Hilliard, Ohio shop to continue prepa­ra­tions for the Loudon race, while also readying to fend off chal­lenges to its points lead in the Amer­ican Le Mans Series GT class. The team’s BMW M3s will get back to compe­ti­tion this weekend as Lime Rock Park hosts the North­east Grand Prix.