Sato Earned His Best 2012 Qualifying Position of 12th for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix – Raceway at Belle Isle Park
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES — Saturday, June 2, 2012


SATO QUALIFIED 12TH FOR THE CHEVROLET DETROIT BELLE ISLE GRAND PRIX; BEST QUALIFYING POSITION TO DATE FOR 2012

POLE:  Scott Dixon      1:10.3162 / 105.978 mph            (set in Round 3)
12th:     Takuma Sato   1:11.8122 / 103.771 mph            (set in Round 2)


TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was a diffi­cult day. We did make some progress on the car balance from yesterday in the morning prac­tice session but we were no where near where we wanted to be on the time sheets.  We made some changes and the car behaved better with the alter­nate Fire­stone tire and I was able to commit more in qual­i­fying. There is still a lot of work to do but we should be pleased consid­ering it was our best qual­i­fying of the year and we made it to Round 2. We will go through the data and continue to try to improve the car for the race tomorrow. It is diffi­cult to over­take on this track but we will work hard to improve our posi­tion with good strategy. It is so easy to lose control of your car here that you need to main­tain good concentration.”

FAST FACTS: Earned his best starting posi­tion for 2012 of 12th place for his first race in Detroit… His best road/street course qual­i­fying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is third in Sao Paulo, Brazil this year… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar and it appears to be the start of his best season to date in the series… Sato led two (St. Pete & Long Beach) of the four road/street races this season and three of five overall races after leading – and nearly winning — the Indy 500. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… In 34 starts in 2010 – 2011, has 17 career top-10 starting spots including four top-five starts and two poles ( Edmonton and Iowa 2011). He has earned eight top-10 finishes including three top-five spots (fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifth at Texas and St. Peters­burg in 2011).  Led a total of 61 laps from 2010-11.

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engi­neer:  “We are making steady progress at a circuit that Takuma nor I know and the team hasn’t been to since 2008. We are just chip­ping away at it.  We still have a lot to learn and a lot of time to make up but we will try to give Takuma a good car for the race.  All things being equal, we should start 11th on the grid which is his best qual­i­fying perfor­mance of 2012 to date so we can only go forward from there.”

1 WIN, 2 PODIUMS FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT DETROIT 2012 will mark the 21st consec­u­tive season of compe­ti­tion for the team and 13th Indy car race in Detroit The team’s highest start of second place and highest finish of first in the event came in the inau­gural running on Belle Isle in 1992 by Bobby Rahal.  In total, the team has earned two podiums (Max Papis 2000 – 2nd), three top-five finishes and nine top-10’s here (chart on back page). Prior to 2012, the team prepared a total of 20 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992 – 1998), Mike Groff (1993 – 94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996 – 99), Max Papis (1999 – 2001), Kenny Brack (2000 – 01), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007 – 08).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 21 in 2012.

NEXT UP:  Morning warm-up will take place from 10:45 – 11:15 a.m. ET and the 90-lap Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will be tele­vised live begin­ning at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC on Sunday, June 3. Timing and Scoring infor­ma­tion is avail­able for all sessions from www.indycar.com