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

SATO AND JOURDAIN PLEASED WITH PROGRESS ON FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE FOR THE INDIANAPOLIS 500

 

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 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