Sato Aims to Continue Street Course Competitiveness at Honda Indy Toronto; Inaugural Winner Rahal Looks Forward to First IndyCar Return Since 2003


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 21st Season
Pre-Race Notes
Honda Indy Toronto – Streets of Toronto
Round 10 of 15 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series

DATE:                                         July 5 – 8, 2012

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing & scoring with audio commentary)

RACE BROADCAST:                 Live on Sunday, July 8 at 12:30 p.m. ET on ABC

RADIO BROADCAST:               The race will air on IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM (XM 94 & Sirius 212)

TRACK LAYOUT:                      1.75-mile, 11-turn street course

RACE LENGTH:                         85 laps / 148.75 miles

2011 WINNER:                           Dario Fran­chitti

2011 POLESITTER:                   Will Power (106.047 mph)

SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET START:            Pole at Edmonton in 2011

SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET FINISH:            Third in Sao Paulo 2012

SATO AT TORONTO:                In two events here, Sato’s best start is 18th (2010) and best finish is 20th (2011)

RLL’S TOP START/
FINISH AT TORONTO:              Pole 1992 (Rahal) / 2nd (Rahal 1992, 1994, 1995; Jour­dain Jr. 2003)


NEWS & NOTES:

FIVE PODIUMS AND ONE POLE IN TORONTO FOR RLL RACING
The 2012 Honda Indy Toronto will mark the 13th Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) on the streets of Toronto’s Exhi­bi­tion Place and first since 2003.  The team also competed in the Atlantic Series races here in 2003 and 2004.  The team’s highest finish is second, four times (Rahal 1992, 1994, 1995; Michel Jour­dain Jr. 2003) and best start was pole in 1992 by Bobby Rahal.  Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 21 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992 – 98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996 – 99), Max Papis (1999 – 2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002) and Michel Jour­dain Jr. (2002 – 03). The team also prepared three Toyota Atlantic entries (Danica Patrick 2003 – 2004; Chris Festa 2004).  The team has earned FIVE podiums (3rd – Rahal 1996), 9 top-five’s and 16 top-10 finishes at the track.  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will bring the Indy car total to 22 entries in 2012.

INAUGURAL TORONTO WINNER RAHAL ON EVENT
Team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed in Toronto from 1986 – 1991 as a driver and from 1992 – 1998 as a team owner/driver.  He earned one win (1986), two poles (1987, 1992), and seven podium finishes in 13 races here.  He also started on the front row three times, earned 10 top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in those 13 races.  He always looks forward to returning to one of the premiere races on the schedule.
         
“From the first year it was held, Toronto has always been a great race,” said Rahal.  “I think the biggest thing is that the Cana­dians truly under­stand and appre­ciate road racing so from our first time there it was always a very popular event and just got huge over the years.  I love going to Canada to race; I spent most of my early career racing in Canada so in some respects it’s a little bit like going home. I’m always excited to go there. I think the Toronto event is equal or similar to Long Beach. It’s certainly one of the premiere races that the series has.”

SATO ON THE BREAK BETWEEN RACES
After five races in a row, the IZOD IndyCar Series took a much-deserved break last weekend but is back in action with this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, Round 10 of 15.  Sato was thankful for the “off weekend.”
         
“I went back home to Monaco finally after seven weeks and spent a good amount of time with family and friends which was really relaxing. It’s good for everyone in the team who worked so hard all that time as well. It was a good refresher for the second half of the season.”

SATO ON THE RETURN TO THE STREETS
Four of the past five IZOD IndyCar Series races were on oval tracks and the next five events are on road/street circuits.  Like many others, Sato is looking forward to the return to this type of course.
         
“After having some tough races for us on ovals, I am very much looking forward to getting back to road/street courses. It will be refreshing.”

BOBBY ON THE TEAMS RETURN TO TORONTO FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2003
“We haven’t raced in Toronto for many years but we had a good setup for street races in St Pete, Long Beach, Brazil and Detroit this year so I’m not too worried about us having a good car in Toronto even though we haven’t raced there in a while. I think our street course setup for the DW12 will be good in Toronto too.”
         
“Absolutely,” added Sato on whether he expects the compet­i­tive­ness on other street courses to carry over to Toronto.  “I think it will be another good race for the new DW12 package. It will prob­ably be a tough race for the drivers phys­i­cally but it will be a good, exciting race there.  Unfor­tu­nately it seems like I didn’t have much luck at Toronto the past two years so hope­fully this year that will change with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.”

BOBBY ON FINISHING IN THE TOP-FIVE ALL BUT THREE RACES IN TORONTO
“I don’t know why I had the success I had in Toronto; I just love the circuit.  We were always good there. Toronto is a street circuit that you can really attack and somehow it kind of fit my driving style. Phys­i­cally it’s a very demanding race. It’s just a good race track. I took to it, or it took to me. We gener­ally had good race cars and really good races there.”

BOBBY ON WHETHER TORONTO IS ONE OF HIS MOST SUCCESSFUL TRACKS
“The most successful track I raced at would be Laguna Seca, having won the Can-Am race and four Indy car races. Then after I retired we won there several times in Indy car with Max Papis and Bryan Herta so I prob­ably had the most success at Laguna but, in terms of overall posi­tions over the years, Toronto would have to be one of the top three or four. Mid-Ohio, Michigan and the Mead­ow­lands were good to me in terms of wins but day-in, day-out Toronto would have to be one of the better ones.”

SATO IN CANADA; FORMULA ONE AND INDY CAR
Sato competed in five Formula One events in Canada, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve between 2002 – 2007 with his best start of sixth coming in 2005 with British Amer­ican Racing (Honda) and his best finish of sixth coming in 2007 with Super Aguri (Honda) where he scored three cham­pi­onship points.  He competed in four IndyCar Series races in Canada from 2010 – 2011 with his best start of pole in Edmonton in 2011 and best finish of 9th at Edmonton in 2010.  This will be Sato’s third race in Toronto. KV Racing Tech­nology, the three-car team he drove for the two previous seasons appeared to struggle at Toronto in 2011 with their top-qualifying posi­tion being 16th. Sato started 19th and finished 20th that year.  In 2010, he started 18th and finished 25th after contact.

SATO ON CANADA BEING ONE OF HIS FAVORITE FORMULA ONE DESTINATIONS
“It was really great to come to the Cana­dian Grand Prix when I was in Formula One. The atmos­phere at Montreal is absolutely fantastic, one of the best for sure. On track I just can’t forget the 2007 race with Super Aguri. We had a good pace the whole weekend but not for the sixth place!  But we had a very inter­esting race espe­cially at the final stint because of choice of tires. I really enjoyed a huge charge with a couple of great competi­tors include Fernando Alonso who drove for McLaren at the time. Who could imagine that the little Super Aguri car could over­take a giant defending cham­pion McLaren?  It was truly an exciting race for us. And I always enjoyed myself off track too. I loved down­town Montreal and I usually had an amazing time at Cirque du Soleil.  It’s always good to be back in Canada.”

SATO ON THECANADIAN SWINGOF TORONTO AND EDMONTON
“Both tracks are very different. Toronto is known as one of the bump­iest tracks and the change of track surface multiple times makes it very chal­lenging. It’s bumpy and slip­pery. We need to have a very good mechan­ical grip there.  Over­taking is possible at Toronto because of a heavy breaking area after a long straight so it will be a great, fun race.  Edmonton was bumpier too as it was on an airport runway but since the layout was changed last year, it is now a very smooth track except where we run on the old part of the track which is still quite bumpy. As I expe­ri­enced many good times previ­ously, I love racing in Canada and I love the atmos­phere from fans.”

SATO’S SEASON TO DATE
Sato has run compet­i­tively in most races to date this season although his 18th place rank in series stand­ings with a total of 154 points does not reflect that perfor­mance.  He is only 39 points from a top-10 rank (10th: G. Rahal, 193 pts).  He led three races to date and ran as high as second and sixth in three others.  His top finish to date this season is a career-best finish of third in Brazil.

THE REINTRODUCTION OF PUSH TO PASS
The IZOD IndyCar Series will re-introduce the over­take assist feature for the remaining five road/street races on the 2012 schedule begin­ning at Toronto. The over­take assist feature, intro­duced to the series in 2009, allows a driver to add turbocharger boost and addi­tional RPM with the press of a button on the steering wheel to complete a pass. The addi­tional boost is added for a pre-determined amount of time which will be deter­mined by INDYCAR depending on the circuit. The sanc­tioning body will also deter­mine the total amount of time avail­able, recharge time and any delay in the system prior to each acti­va­tion, though the engine manu­fac­turers may adjust the settings below the require­ments to opti­mize their engine’s perfor­mance.
         
“Its great to have it back,” said Sato. “I think it will produce a great amount of extra power as it will raise some boost and allow us to have more oppor­tu­ni­ties for over­taking so I look forward to that a lot!”

- RLL –