INDIANAPOLIS (February 20, 2012) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing completed its first day of testing in preparation for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season at the 2.38-mile, 17-turn scenic road course at Barber Motorsports Park. Takuma Sato completed 38 laps in the No. 15 Honda-Dallara-Firestone race car and was within 1/10ths of a second of last years pole time at the track.
“It was a good start, especially since it was our very first day,” said Sato. “It was nice to see all the boys and engineers and run through the things we prepared over the winter. Although it was a little bit of a slow start since the car was just shook down but I think that is natural. I am pleased to see the car runs straight away and we were able to check that every function is working. Barber is a very challenging track. Although I had a taste of the 2012 car at Sebring in December, there are quite different characteristics on this circuit. It seems that we adapted quickly and I am happy with the basic setup. There is a lot of work to do but we will go over the data tonight and continue to work on it tomorrow.”
Sato will begin his third season in the IndyCar Series in 2012 after a 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. He also started from pole at the Iowa Speedway oval and temporary airport course in Edmonton.
“I’m very pleased with how today went,” said team owner Bobby Rahal. “The car ran well and Takuma did a very good job for his first time out in the car. It’s a good start.”
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.
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.
Testing will resume at Barber Motorsports Park tomorrow before the team travels to Florida for another two days of testing at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday and Friday.
– RLL -