Sato Earned His Best Series Finish of Second in the Edmonton Indy; Pressured Eventual Winner Castroneves in Closing Laps

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Edmonton Indy – City Centre Airport, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, July 22, 2012


TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It is a fantastic result. I am very pleased for the team and very proud of our effort today.  It wasn’t an easy race. Tagliani made a great start and I was in fourth but then I overtook Ryan (Briscoe) in the hairpin and settled in third which was great.  The first and second stint was all about saving fuel but driving as fast as possible.  It was a very controlled race for us.  I had a great battle with Dario.  I could see he was pushing really hard and sliding. I had an opportunity and overtook him which was great.  The last stint was very exciting. We had a battle with (Alex) Tagliani and then Helio.  I had to go as fast as I could; I pushed as much as I could and tried to get an opportunity to pass Helio but it was just not quite there yet.  I knew he had a little bit longer sequence of the push to pass. I used it bit by bit, but also he’s reacting all the time the last few laps and he used it every single straight. It was very difficult to catch him. Once we were very close, but it was not close enough to make a maneuver.  After May we had some difficult races and came back very strong and made good progress and shall keep our head down and do the job for the next four races which will be very exciting. I’m very happy for second place today.”

·         FAST FACTS: This was Sato’s third race in Edmonton.  He started third and briefly ran fourth on the opening lap but regained third when he passed Briscoe and held the position until his first stop on Lap 26 of 75.  Eventual winner Castroneves passed Sato in the pits and Sato ran fourth until he passed Franchitti on Lap 36 for third. He passed Tagliani for second after the final pit stop on Lap 52 and proceeded to close a 3.2-second gap to race leader Castroneves to 0.5 seconds by the end of the race but was unable to get close enough to make a pass.  He took the checkered flag in second place for his best series finish to date.… He won pole in 2011 and led 18 laps but was hit by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who was penalized for “avoidable contact” with a “drive-through” on Lap 41/80 but went on to finish seventh.  Sato was in second place at the time and ultimately finished 21st.  In 2010, he started 13th and finished ninth.  Both with KV Racing Technology… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is second in Edmonton this year… Sato led two street races this season (St. Pete & Long Beach) and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he nearly won with a last lap pass. 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.

BOBBY RAHAL, Team co-owner:  “Takuma did a very good job and the whole team did a good job.  It just shows you that if we can help him in the races, the guy has got the speed.  It’s just a matter of us collectively understanding the flow of the race.  The pit stops were good, he drove well and we’re obviously very pleased with the outcome.  It looked to me like Helio was a little stronger than we were under braking.  Either he was able to put the power down a little bit better, or something, to gap us enough that we couldn’t really get close enough on the straight.  It was a great battle though.”

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engineer for Sato: “Whilst it’s disappointing that we still haven’t managed to be the first to take the checkered flag, I think there are a lot of positives that we can take from the race today. Everything went very smoothly from the pit wall. Our pit stops were better than we’ve seen in previous races and I was happy in terms of the performance of the prime and option tire.  Clearly everybody was running to fuel targets in the first two stints and Takuma did a very, very good job certainly in the first stint following Dario and going as long as Dario, stopping at the end of Lap 26.  I think we could not have asked any more from Takuma; he did a very good job today. We just weren’t quite quick enough to make a pass on Castroneves and make it stick but we can be very proud as a team today.”

SECOND RACE IN EDMONTON FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING… The Edmonton Indy marked the second Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and first since 2008 when Ryan Hunter-Reay started 13th and finished eighth for the team… Team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed in his first professional race at Edmonton International Speedway in May 1975 where he qualified on the front row in second place in the Player’s Canadian Formula Atlantic Series. Electrical issues ended his race.

NEXT UP:  The series will take a weekend off and reconvene for Round 12 of 15 at RLL’s longtime home track — Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  The team’s highest result is third in 1997 and 1998 by Rahal… Sato will make his third start at the track. Prior to his third place finish in Brazil this year, his best series finish was fourth at Mid-Ohio in 2011 after he started ninth.  He started third in 2010 but retired in 25th due to contact.  Both with KV Racing Technology…. Bobby Rahal won two races (1985, 1986), two poles (1983, 1985) and finished on the podium at Mid-Ohio eight times — or 50 percent of his 16 races.  The team will test at Mid-Ohio on Thursday, July 26.