Sato and Jourdain Pleased with Progress on Opening Day of Practice for the Indy 500

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Indinapolis 500 — Indianapolis Motor Speedway
IZOD IndyCar Series
PRACTICE — NOTES/QUOTES — Saturday, May 12, 2012



1)         Josef Newgarden      220.250 mph / 40.8627          46 laps
12)       Takuma Sato             217. 180 mph / 41.4403         4 laps
21)       Michel Jourdain        214.8856 mph / 41.8856        33 laps


TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was a short day of work with a long amount of time waiting which is natural. It was the very first day of practice and we obviously rebuilt the car for the oval and the boys did a fantastic job.  I am so pleased to see all the functions working really well. Michel did a great job through his first day of practice which produced the basic setup from April. And he developed it nicely. I only did three timed laps but the car felt good which is important for the first day.  The conditions were definitely good because it was the end of the day and more than 500 laps of rubber was on the track and the temperatures were cooler so I expected to be quick. I look forward to beginning to work on the setup.”


FAST FACTS: 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:  “We started off exactly where we finished Thursday. We just trimmed the car a couple of times to gradually get it to the setup we are going to run.  We are doing it slowly to maintain our confidence.  Unfortunately we had a cut in the left rear so we had to use more tires than we wanted but I am happy to get through the first official day. We are better than I thought we would be at this point so I am happy about that.”

FAST FACTS: Jourdain is competing in his second Indianapolis 500 race. He qualified eighth and finished 13th in the 1996 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. 

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engineer:  “Michel has now had more time in the car with the opening day of practice. We completed another 34 laps today over and above the mileage we accrued on the rookie orientation day so that has been good for him. Whilst he is still getting comfortable in the car, and getting his confidence in the car, we are making a number of changes on the car, both aerodynamic and mechanical, to understand more about how the car behaves on the Super Speedway. I think today has been another productive day for him and, I’m sure tomorrow, given the right weather conditions he will go another step quicker again.
“Takuma hasn’t run here since the April test. We have taken a long time to rebuild the car and get the car to the state of preparation that we wanted and he went out for the first time with essentially four minutes to go in the session. He did just one outing which we utilized as a warm-up run, admittedly on fresh rubber and, of course at the end of the day when there are more laps down and more rubber on the circuit and felt that the car was not too far out of the window from a balance perspective. There is a lot of work to do but I think it is an encouraging start.”

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:  Practice will take place from May 12-18 for the 96th Indianapolis 500.  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

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: