Sato and Jourdain Jr. Qualified 19th and 22nd Respectively For the Indy 500

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Indianapolis 500 – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES — “Pole Day” May 19, 2012

SATO AND JOURDAIN JR. QUALIFIED 19TH AND 22ND RESPECTIVELY FOR THE INDY 500

 

POLE:    Ryan Briscoe (Seg 2)          4-lap avg. speed of 226.484 mph    (L1: 226.621, L2: 226.578, L3: 226.404, L4: 226.334)
19th:      Takuma Sato (Seg 1)          4-lap avg. speed of 223.392 mph    (L1: 223.754, L2: 223.388, L3: 223.232, L4: 223.194)
22nd:     Michel Jourdain (Seg 1)      4-lap avg. speed of 222.893 mph    (L1: 222.983, L2: 223.141, L3: 222.810, L4: 222.639)  


TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “Qualifying was a little frustrating. We showed speed in the week and thought we had a good speed in qualifying trim. After experiencing high boost in Fast Friday yesterday and this morning, the handling of the race car improved but we didn’t have the pure qualifying speed unfortunately. But we should be happy with the result of qualifying on the first day. I was reasonably happy with the balance. It is a shame we weren’t able to qualify a little higher. Now we go back to race mode and try to improve the race set up tomorrow and Carb Day. Hopefully we have a strong package for the race.”
 

FAST FACTS: Sato will be in Columbus, Ohio on Monday, May 21 for a media tour with team owner Bobby Rahal… Will be his third Indy 500 and EIGHTH race at IMS after competing in F1 races here in 2002, 2004-07… In the Indy 500, he narrowly missed making it into the Fast Nine in qualifying with his 10th fastest qualifying average for the 2011 race and retired in 33rd place due to contact after 20 laps.  In 2010 he qualified 31st and finished 20th after completing 198/200 laps – both for KV Racing Technology… IMS is the site of Sato’s best F1 finish of third in 2004 – the same year RLL won the Indy 500 with Buddy Rice… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led two of the first three races but failed to finish due to mechanical failure (St. Pete & Barber) and “avoidable contact” by Hunter-Reay ( Long Beach) on the final lap en route to a career best finish of third.  When he did finally see the checkered flag, he earned his best series finish to date of third place in Brazil despite starting 25th due to an unapproved engine change… Moved from a 16th-place rank in series points to his highest career series rank to date of seventh with 83.

MICHEL JOURDAIN JR, No. 30 Office Depot / RLL Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I am very happy and relieved that we qualified on the first day and didn’t need to make a second attempt. When I got out of the car I didn’t think we were going to make the top 24 and get in today.  We really wanted to go out tomorrow and focus on race setup rather than making a qualifying attempt and now we can do that. The guys did a fantastic job, especially after yesterday when we lost so much track time. It’s a long race; where you start doesn’t matter too much. I am so, so happy to be here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I am so thankful for Office Depot, Roshfrans, Grupo Multi, Grupo Indi and the team for making this possible.”
 

FAST FACTS: Jourdain will be in Los Angeles for a media tour on Monday, May 21 and Mexico City on May 22 after qualifying… Jourdain is competing in his second Indianapolis 500 race. His No. 30 Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry is sponsored by Office Depot Mexico with associate sponsorship from Roshfrans, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi… He qualified eighth and finished 13th in the 1996 Indy 500 race… He is returning to open wheel racing for the first time since 2004… He made 152 starts in the CART/Champ Car World Series and three in the IRL/IndyCar Series (1996/97 season) between 1996-2004… His highest finish in the IRL/IndyCar Series is second place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1996 and he earned two wins in CART/CCWS in 2003 at Montreal and Milwaukee while driving for Team Rahal… With support from Ford Motor Company, he moved to NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from 2005-2008 and also competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2006. Since then, he competed in various rally and sports car series. 

TOM ANDERSON, Managing Director Motorsport Operations: “I would classify this day as a day of satisfaction. The team worked really hard this week. Totally it up, it was 95 hours for the guys so it was a real hard week with minor disruption. Things went pretty much as we hoped and planned. Racers always want more. Yes you are disappointed that you weren’t the fastest that day but the real prize if on May 27 when we run the Indy 500.  That day is the big one. To win the race you first have to get in the show.  We are here now, we’re in as first day qualifiers. Very pleased given the development with the new car. Jay O’Connell in the engineering department has done a fantastic job. Race engineers Gerry Hughes and Bruno Couprie did a great job as did Team Manager Ricardo Nault. There were no mechanical issues on the team’s part.  One hundred percent reliability with a new package is something to pat everybody on the back about.  On Sunday we will work on race set up which we have done a little bit of during the week but we want to verify what we have learned as we run the new car more and more. Each day is a learning curve. Sunday will be really our last working day for race setup. We will work a little bit on Carb Day next Friday but not a lot so we can keep the mileage and tire count down until the race. We will celebrate tonight and get back to work tomorrow.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT INDY … The team’s highest start and finish in the event came in 2004 when Buddy Rice won from pole. In addition, the team has earned a total of four podiums (2nd – Meira 2005; 3rd – Rahal 1994, 1995). The team was in contention to win the race as recent as 2011 when Bertrand Baguette led laps 139-140 and laps 189-197 of the 200 lap race. Had a caution come our before Baguette was forced to pit for a splash of fuel, he might have been the victor. The race ultimately ended under caution when JR Hildebrand crashed on the front straight while in the lead on the final lap… The 2012 race will mark the 15th year for the team in the event.  Prior to 2012, the team prepared a total of 26 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1995), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Jimmy Vasser (2002-2003), Kenny Brack (2003, 2005), Buddy Rice (2004, 2006; DNC 2005 due to practice crash), Vitor Meira (2004, 2005), Roger Yasakawa (2004), Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Jeff Simmons (2006, 2007), Scott Sharp (2007), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Oriol Servia (2009), Graham Rahal (2010), Bertrand Baguette (2011) and Jay Howard (2011).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato and No. 30 Office Depot / RLL Racing entry for Michel Jourdain will bring that total to 28 in 2012.

NEXT UP:  The final day of practice will take place tomorrow.  Pole day will be Saturday, May 19 and will be televised on NBC Sports Network from 11:00-2:30 and 4:30-6:30 p.m. ET.  The second day of qualifying on May 20 will also be aired live on NBC Sports Network from 12:00-6:30 p.m. ET.  The 96th Indianapolis 500 race will be May 27 and will be televised by ABC at 11a.m. (ET) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network on SiriusXM (XM 94 and Sirius 212). Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from www.indycar.com.

PHOTO AND VIDEO AVAILABLE: Media members who register on the IndyCar Series media site have access to photography as well as video. Video will be available specifically of Office Depot/RLL Racing driver Michel Jourdain in Spanish the evening of each practice day (and English most days) via a link that will be sent by the team per request. Register for access to photos at: http://www.indycarmedia.com/pages/ApplyforAccess