Sato Hopes to Return to the Lead in Brazil; RLL to Compete in First Sao Paulo Race and Sixth in Brazil


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 21st Season
Pre-Race Notes
Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Nestlé – Streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil
Round 4 of 16 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series

DATE:                                         Saturday – Sunday, April 28 – 29, 2012

QUALIFYING BROADCAST:     6:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network April 28; Live on the IMS Radio Network and

www.indycar.com (timing & scoring)

SPECIAL BROADCAST:           INDYCAR 36” will air on NBC Sports Network at 10:30 a.m. ET April 29

RACE BROADCAST:                 Live on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network

RADIO BROADCAST:               The race will air on IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 & Sirius channel 212

TRACK LAYOUT:                      2.6-mile, 11-turn street course

RACE LENGTH:                        75 laps / 195 miles 

2011 WINNER:                          Will Power

2011 POLESITTER:                  Will Power (1:21.8958; 111.478 mph)

SATO’S HIGHEST ROAD/

STREET COURSE START:      Pole at Edmonton 2011

SATO’S HIGHEST ROAD/

STREET COURSE FINISH:       4th at Mid-Ohio 2011

SATO IN SAO PAULO:              Highest start is 10th (2010 & 2011) and highest finish is 8th in 2011 after leading 23 laps; third race here

RLL’S TOP START/

FINISH AT SAO PAULO:           First race here; sixth race in Brazil after races in Rio de Janeiro from 1996 – 2000


NEWS & NOTES:

FIRST INDY CAR RACE FOR RLL IN SAO PAULO; SIXTH IN BRAZIL
The Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Nestlé marks Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s first time to compete on the Streets of São Paulo.  Previ­ously the team competed in five CART-sanctioned events in Rio de Janeiro from 1996 – 2000 with Bobby Rahal (1996 – 1998), Bryan Herta (1996 – 99), Max Papis (1999 – 00), and Kenny Brack (2000).  The best start for the team on the 1.86-mile, D-shaped oval in Rio was third by Rahal in 1997. The team’s best finish in Brazil is fourth, by Herta (1998) and Papis (1999). Over the 10 entries between 1996 – 00, the team had four top-five and eight top-10 starts as well as two top-five and seven top-10 finishes (chart avail­able). 

SATO’S NEAR WIN IN THE 2011 BRAZIL INDYCAR RACE
The 2012 event will mark Takuma Sato’s third IndyCar Series race here and ninth overall in the country of Brazil.  Sato competed in Formula One races in Brazil at Inter­lagos five times (2002, 2004 – 2007) with a best start and finish of sixth place – both in 2004 for BAR-Honda. In the 2011 IndyCar Series race, Sato came up 10 minutes short of poten­tially claiming his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory. The race was post­poned from Sunday due to poor visi­bility caused by persis­tent rain and approaching dusk. On Monday, the race resumed from Lap 15-on with a time limit but the rain continued as well.  Sato led Laps 26 – 48 in the timed race that ended after Lap 55. Had a caution flag come out while Sato was leading, he may have been able to stretch his fuel and claim victory but the race stayed green and he was forced to pit on Lap 48 of what became a 55-lap race and finished eighth, which is his best series finish to date here.
      
“The first year was my debut race in the IndyCar Series and it was good to start from the top-10,” recalled Sato. “However, sadly, it ended too soon imme­di­ately; after the start so I wasn’t really able to race. The second year was a great memory. It was my first-ever rain race in my IndyCar career but I had great confi­dence about that and was able to move up the field by over­taking several cars and I led a lot of the race. That was extremely exciting. Unfor­tu­nately though, we made a mistake on strategy and I had to come in for a splash of fuel a few laps from the end so we couldn’t achieve what we wanted but it was encouraging.”

SATO IN 2012 – HAS LED TWO OFHREE EVENTS
In three IZOD IndyCar Series races to date, Sato has led two of the three events.  He led the St. Peters­burg season-opening race twice and led once at Round 3 in Long Beach for a total of 27 laps. Unfor­tu­nately he has yet to finish an event after succumbing to mechan­ical failure in St. Peters­burg and Barber Motor­sports Park and was hit on the final lap in Long Beach while en route to his best series finish of third place. He was scored in eighth place. He has a total of 48 points and is ranked 16th in series stand­ings after three of 16 events.

HUGHES ON CREATINGBASELINE SETUP FOR THE TEAM’S FIRST BRAZIL STREET RACE
Sato’s race engi­neer Gerry Hughes joined the team prior to the start of the season and has 24 years of track­side engi­neering expe­ri­ence in series such as Formula One, GP2, A1GP, British Touring Cars, Formula 3 and Opel Lotus. The move reunited Hughes with team co-owner Bobby Rahal, tech­nical director Jay O’Connell and driver Sato.  It is his first season in the IndyCar Series as well as the first time for the team to compete on the street course in Sao Paulo, an event that is in its third year on the series schedule. Hughes discusses the process to create a base­line setup for the team’s first event at the track.
      
“Preparing for the unknown is always a chal­lenge, espe­cially when a team has no histor­ical data on which to draw. Having been in this situ­a­tion before both in Formula One and other formulae, there are a number of key things that I look for, and without giving too much away, you find your­self looking for infor­ma­tion across a range of infor­ma­tion portals, which may include other formulae that have raced at the circuit, from which you can compare data or even, dare I say it — the internet. I have in the past devel­oped circuit simu­la­tions, for a number of circuits that we had never visited and had absolutely no infor­ma­tion for, from Google Earth — F1 purists would be horrified!”

HUGHES ON THE TYPE OF DATA ACCESSED
“Well, in the simplest forms, the IndyCar IRIS website gives one a huge amount of infor­ma­tion about any circuit that one has not visited. Even getting an impres­sion of the EOS (end of straight) and VMax (top speeds), for a given circuit gives one a heads-up on the gearing in top gear of sixth for a given config­u­ra­tion and all of this is valu­able information.”

SATO ON THE 2.6-MILE, 11-TURN STREET COURSE
“I think the Sao Paulo street course is very unique; it has got one of the longest and bump­iest straights followed by such a tight hairpin which requires heavy braking.  The complexes after the second straight are quite narrow and the car needs good trac­tion as well as the ability to quickly change direc­tion so it’s challenging.”

HUGHES ON THE IMPACT OF THE LONGEST STRAIGHTAWAY OF THE SEASON
“The long straight at the Sao Paulo Street Circuit will invari­ably drive set-ups towards lower downforce/drag config­u­ra­tions but overall lap time, as always, will be very driven by the balance between grip versus down­force and the effect that the latter has on tire perfor­mance for a given set of circuit conditions.”

SATO AND HUGHES ON THE CHALLENGING, SHORTER TWO-DAY FORMAT AND WEATHER LIMITATIONS
“Saturday will be a very busy day for everyone for sure,” said Sato. “The mechanics have to work the whole day as there are both prac­tice sessions and qual­i­fying so we have to make sure we won’t have any trouble. Also, the engi­neers won’t have enough time to go through all the details of data and analysis so we need to make very quick deci­sions.  As a driver, I don’t mind driving the whole day!”
      
“Going in to any weekend where there is absolutely no histor­ical data or team expe­ri­ence of a partic­ular circuit is, I suppose, a bit of a daunting expe­ri­ence and is some­what compounded by a two-day race weekend,” added Hughes. “However, as all of these events and circuits are all new to me, I suppose that my perspec­tive is some­what different from others in the team. My expe­ri­ences of the weather in Sao Paulo have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous!”

SATO ON THE BRAZILIAN FANS AND HIS DREAM OF RACING BEING ENCOURAGED BY SENNA
“It’s just fantastic. Brazil has a huge racing history and so many of the greatest drivers are Brazilian. Fans know about racing and I feel tremen­dous passion from them.
      
“I never had a chance to meet him (Senna) but I saw him racing when I was 10 years old and that day my dream (of racing) really started. His speed, the way he raced, his atti­tude and every­thing was all about winning the race.  I like his person­ality as well so he is my hero even today.”

SATO ON JETLAG – AND HIS 20k+ AIR MILES SINCE THE LAST RACE
“Yes, I do get jet lagged but I am just used to it. After Long Beach, I was in Monaco four days, Korea two days, back in Monaco one night and then I came to Brazil.  I spent four nights in an airplane. There is not a secret to dealing with jetlag but to try to stay awake in daytime then you can sleep at night!”

HUGHES ON THE CHALLENGES OFFLY-AWAY” (CARGO) RACES
“IndyCar is a very different series to that of Formula One, where the latter has become predom­i­nantly a ‘flyaway’ race series and the numbers of races actu­ally held in Europe have dwin­dled to only 11 out of the 20 races being held in 2012. Flyaway race events are fun but there is an art to pack­aging team equip­ment and ensuring that the equip­ment being trans­ported is funda­mental to the oper­a­tion of the team and that the culture of ‘we should take just in case’ is care­fully managed. I am not sure of the costs involved in IndyCar but in Formula One currently every 1.0 kgs (2.2 Lbs) of equip­ment being trans­ported costs approx­i­mately $15.00 (both outbound and return), so the costs quickly mount up, and those guys are trans­porting up to 40,000 kgs of equipment!”

HUGHES ON HIS PREVIOUS RACES IN BRAZIL
“The very first driver that I worked with in Formula One came from Sao Paulo and so for me, it is a very special place. Although we will not be racing on the Inter­lagos Circuit, I will enjoy the expe­ri­ence and, as it will be in excess of my 13th visit to the country, I am no stranger to the place or its fine array of meat restaurants!”

 

RLL