RLL to Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 4 with Sato; First Oval Test of 2012 Season

NEWS & NOTES:

FIRST 2012 OVAL TEST FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will test at Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow with Takuma Sato.  It will be the first test for the team on an oval for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.  Initially the test was open to one car from each of the three manu­fac­turers – Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus but the series invited more cars to partic­i­pate.  New aero­dy­namic compo­nents have been released since an initial test at IMS by each of the engine manu­fac­turers and data will be collected to eval­uate those compo­nents. 

One car/driver combi­na­tion from each team was invited with the excep­tion of teams that have rookie drivers.  RLL’s Takuma Sato will be joined at the test by fellow Honda-powered drivers Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Mike Conway (A.J. Foyt Racing) and Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing). Chevy drivers that are testing include Helio Castron­eves (Team Penske), Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Tech­nology), Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing), Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport) and JR Hilde­brand (Panther Racing).


RLL’s Tech­nical Director Jay O’Connell provided a brief overview of the test and the type of knowl­edge the team hopes to gain at the test.

AN OVERVIEW BY O’CONNELL ON THE TEST AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
“We found out we were testing at Indi­anapolis Motor Speedway last Friday night so we started preparing for it on Saturday while at Barber so it’s really been a short amount of time to get ready. The first step was figuring out some gears and then working on the aero­dy­namic and mechan­ical setup based on the manu­fac­turer test result last fall and our previous expe­ri­ence in the Indi­anapolis 500.

            “Our goal at Indy tomorrow is to build a foun­da­tion to use for the month of May. We want to get a good under­standing of the basic aero­dy­namic char­ac­ter­is­tics of the new car, espe­cially with all of the updates that have been coming in the last couple of months. And we are going to get a chance to under­stand the differ­ence between the 2011 and 2012 Indy 500 tires because I under­stand that they are going to give us two sets of each of those types.  With a new car we have to figure out how much of our tradi­tional Indy 500 setups, combined with our under­standing of the new car, will work at Indy.”

O’CONNELL ON HAVINGSTRONG RACE SETUP AND LEADING WITHFEW LAPS TO GO IN 2011
“The last few years we have had solid efforts at Indy whether it was with Oriol (Servia; 2009) or Graham (Rahal, 2010) or with Bertrand Baguette and Jay Howard last year. Each year we have tried to start from solid ground and have a good qual­i­fying setup.  We qual­i­fied in the top-15 the last few years and made it into the Fire­stone Fast 9 with Graham two years ago.  Qual­i­fying is one aspect and its fun for the engi­neers but the key is having a good car in the race. We have had really strong cars in the race, espe­cially with Bertrand last year.  He moved his way up from starting 14thand was a contender at the end of the race where he had to pit from the lead with three laps to go.”

O’CONNELL ON RACE ENGINEER GERRY HUGHES AND HIS OVAL DEBUT
“Certainly Gerry (Hughes) is new to the ovals and we are going through the different parts of the setup and the history behind them. The test is really a good oppor­tu­nity for him to get up to speed on the ovals in an envi­ron­ment with less pres­sure than the race event. This will be a good oppor­tu­nity for him, and well as the rest of us, to really learn the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the new car on the ovals.”

O’CONNELL ON INPUT FROM COUPRIE WHO ENGINEEREDFRONT ROW CAR IN ‘11
Bruno Couprie was the race engi­neer for Indy 500 front row starter Oriol Servia who qual­i­fied third in 2011. Couprie left Newman/Haas Racing at the conclu­sion of the 2011 season to join RLL’s ALMS program as a race engi­neer.  He is also assisting with the IndyCar program.
    
“Bruno is certainly involved and will be at the test. He is bringing his expe­ri­ence to the table and helping as we prepare for Indy. We are going through our expe­ri­ence the last few years along with his expe­ri­ence from last year to start from a good base. We are going to try to take advan­tage of his expe­ri­ence as much as possible and combine it with our own.”

SATO — DID YOU KNOW
Takuma Sato, 35, is a former high school and univer­sity cycling cham­pion in road racing and track cycling and racing on velo­dromes was his first expe­ri­ence racing on ovals… Despite not begin­ning his career in auto racing until he was 19 years old, he progressed to Formula One in only five years and went on to become the most successful Japanese driver to compete in F1 after having finished third at the US Grand Prix in 2004… The first race he attended was an F1 race at Suzuka at the age of 10… His career was launched years later when he read about a contest in a racing maga­zine while in college that ulti­mately resulted in being one of seven drivers (out of approx. 70) to win a racing schol­ar­ship. It was a one-shot oppor­tu­nity due to an age limit and, as he knew it was the career path he preferred over others, he made the most of it… He went on to compete in F1 for seven seasons and made 91 starts… His popu­larity in Japan has been compared to that of a “Rock Star” and he is a popular corpo­rate image char­acter both in Japan and around the globe… He has been awarded “Good­will Ambas­sador” for the British Embassy in Tokyo and used for valu­able UK-Japan trade devel­op­ment activ­i­ties… He founded “With You Japan,” an orga­ni­za­tion that provides support to chil­dren affected by the devas­tating earth­quakes and tsunami in Japan. Many of whom lost their family, friends, teachers and homes… His U.S. base of Denver was chosen so that he could train in the high alti­tude and his full­time resi­dence is Monaco… He is married with two chil­dren.                                       

 

RLL