Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Tabs Takuma Sato to Pilot its IndyCar Series Entry

INDIANAPOLIS (February 3, 2012) – In eval­u­ating the numerous prospects campaigning for a seat in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda-powered Indy car for the 2012 season, the Indianapolis-based team was searching for the right balance of speed, success and expe­ri­ence to lead it into the new era of IZOD IndyCar Series competition.

With his glit­tering Formula 1 resume and strong recent results demon­strating his contin­uing climb up the IndyCar Series grid, Takuma Sato proved to have all of the tools for the job, as the team named the Japanese veteran to pilot the team’s #15 Dallara/Honda/Firestone — one of its two Indy cars in 2012.

Sato, who made 91 starts over seven seasons in F1, joins RLL after making great strides in IndyCar in 2011. A two-time IndyCar Series pole­sitter last year, Sato looks to build on a successful sopho­more season that saw him earn three top-five finishes, seven top-10s and lead 61 laps on his way to a 13th-place finish in the point standings.

RLL is extremely pleased to welcome Takuma to our IndyCar Series team for 2012, and we antic­i­pate having a very strong season together,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “While we were deter­mined to have an expe­ri­enced driver for this season, we also needed someone that knew how to get to the front and Takuma has shown that he can do that, and we expect to have a great oppor­tu­nity to win races this year. He has made great strides through the last two seasons in IndyCar and I have no doubt that we can produce a strong effort with him leading the team.”

Takuma made his Indy car debut in 2010 and made great improve­ments in 2011, gaining speed and posi­tions as he visited the circuits of the series for the second time. In 2011 the IZOD IndyCar Series competed on 11 tracks that were also on the 2010 schedule, and Sato improved his finish from 2010 on seven of those circuits.

“I’m very proud, moti­vated and excited to be chosen by Bobby to join his big project,” Sato said. “This team I feel has got huge poten­tial. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has got a great history and record of winning so my moti­va­tion is ever so high and I am extremely thrilled to start the new season. With a new car for every­body, I am confi­dent that we’ll be up to speed very quickly.”

RLL returns to full-time IZOD IndyCar Series compe­ti­tion in 2012 for the first time since 2008. That season saw Ryan Hunter-Reay finish seventh in the final series stand­ings, marking the 11th consec­u­tive year that a RLL driver finished the year in the top-10 in driver points. The winners of the 1992 IndyCar cham­pi­onship as well as the 2004 Indi­anapolis 500, RLL Indy cars have finished in the top 10 in more than half of its 587 career series starts.

The RLL squad is currently readying the car for its first preseason tests and expects to partic­i­pate in the IndyCar Series open testing at Sebring in March. The team is also final­izing its plans for a second car and intends to have it ready for preseason testing as well. The final sponsor and driver lineup for 2012 will be announced in the near future.

 – RLL -