Sato Looks Forward to Final Street Race of 2012 in Baltimore After Strong Street Course Efforts with RLL

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 21st Season
Pre-Race Notes
Grand Prix of Balti­more – Streets of Balti­more, Mary­land
Round 14 of 15 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series
 
DATE:                                       August 31-September 2, 2012
QUALIFYING BROADCAST:  September 1 at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. LIVE on www.indycar.com (timing &
                                                  scoring with audio commen­tary)
RACE BROADCAST:               Live on Sunday, September 2 at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
RADIO BROADCAST:              The race will air on IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM (XM 94 & Sirius 212)
TRACK LAYOUT:                     2.4-mile, 12-turn street course
RACE LENGTH:                       75 laps / 150 miles
2011 WINNER:                          Will Power
2011 POLESITTER:                  Will Power (91.520 mph)
SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET START:           Pole at Edmonton in 2011
SATO’S HIGHEST
ROAD/STREET FINISH:           2nd at Edmonton 2012, 3rd at Sao Paulo 2012
SATO AT BALTIMORE:           Started 26th and finished 18th here last year.
RLL’S TOP START/
FINISH AT BALTIMORE:         Will be first ICS race here. Started 1st & 3rd in ALMS GT class in 2011 and finished 5th
                                                  and 2nd (respec­tively). RLL pole sitter was taken out of the lead by contact.
 
 
NEWS & NOTES:
 
FIRST INDYCAR RACE AT BALTIMORE FOR RLL RACING
The Grand Prix of Balti­more will mark the first Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) here and second overall race.  The team’s ALMS GT program qual­i­fied on pole (No. 55) and in third (No. 56) in 2011. The No. 55 car was taken out of the lead by contact from a Corvette and the team finished fifth (No. 55) and second (No. 56).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will be the first Indy car entry in this race.
 
SATO ON THE STREETS
This will be Takuma Sato’s second race here. He qual­i­fied 26th and finished 18th in 2011 with KV Racing Tech­nology but has run well on street courses this season with RLL Racing including leading the St. Pete and Long Beach races. He finished third on the streets of Brazil and earned his series-best finish of second in Edmonton.  The team will be assessed a 10-grid penalty after qual­i­fying in Balti­more due to an unap­proved engine change – their seventh of the season.  All engine changes past a season limit of five, incur a 10-grid penalty.
 
SATO ON HIS EXPECTATIONS ON THE FINAL STREET RACE OF THE SEASON
“I believe we can have a very strong weekend. I expect we will be compet­i­tive in Balti­more based on our perfor­mance on streets courses this season and there are a number of posi­tives that indi­cate we can do well. We just need to concen­trate on every func­tion we have, and work to the best of our ability and we can make the most of our poten­tial. I am very moti­vated and really looking forward to the final street race of the season. We just need to make sure that we don’t have any bad luck.”
 
VP TECHNOLOGY JAY O’CONNELL ON THE BENEFIT OF THE TEAM’S BALTIMORE ALMS EXPERIENCE
The team’s ALMS program started from pole in Balti­more last year but was taken out of the lead by contact from another car and finished fifth while the “sister car” qual­i­fied third and finished second.  Although it will be the first time for the IndyCar oper­a­tion to compete in Balti­more, they have a good base­line of knowl­edge according to Vice Pres­i­dent of Tech­nology Jay O’Connell.
“Our ALMS program adapted quickly to the Balti­more street course last year,” said O’Connell. “You may recall that the first ALMS prac­tice was cancelled last year since the circuit was still being completed so we had just one prac­tice session before qual­i­fying. Our drivers were still learning the course during qual­i­fying and improved their best prac­tice time by two seconds to take the GT class pole. The data and expe­ri­ence we gained from Balti­more last year has been shared with our IndyCar Series team in order to prepare for this year’s race. Several parts of the course have changed but the majority of the corners are the same. Our Indy car has been very compet­i­tive on street courses this season so we expect to have another strong weekend in Balti­more. The course has a mixture of concrete and paved surfaces which makes it chal­lenging to adjust the balance to work well on both surface types.”
 
SATO ON THE SUCCESS OF THE 2011 BALTIMORE RACE
The inau­gural Grand Prix of Balti­more took place last year and was well attended.  Sato is looking forward to the same support this year.
“It was very impres­sive and really great to see the massive atten­dance of fans and the very nice atmos­phere. It was also great to see an incred­ible effort from the city and promoter. Their commit­ment to close the railway service over the weekend since it was part of race­track and laying down asphalt on top of the railway crossing was impres­sive! It’s a beau­tiful, great city with a lot going on over the course of the race weekend. And it’s a chal­lenging track; I like it a lot.”
 
SATO ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE BALTIMORE COURSE
“I really enjoy the track. It is one of the very chal­lenging street courses in the series and has a nice balance of smooth, high-speed sections and tech­nical, bumpy, low-speed sections. It’s a fast track too.  I think the phys­ical demands were very high on this track with a lot of grip and a busy lap. It is very chal­lenging and I really like it. Also there were a few more chal­lenges last year like a tight high-speed, mammoth chicane on the main straight and a narrow pit entry which all are changed now and improved so it will now be more safe but still a great, fun street race track.”
 
SATO’S SEASON TO DATE
Of Sato’s three seasons to date in the IndyCar Series, this has been his most compet­i­tive to date although his 15th place rank in series stand­ings with a total of 243 points does not reflect that perfor­mance.  He is 43 points from a top-10 rank (10th: G. Rahal, 286 pts).  He led three races to date and ran as high as second, fourth and sixth in five others.  His top finish to date this season is a career-best finish of second in Edmonton.   
 

 – RLL -