Sato Qualified 11th for the Honda Indy Toronto; Penalty Negated Two Fastest Qualifying Laps

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Indy Toronto – Streets of Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, July 7, 2012



POLE:  Dario Franchitti   59.3510 / 106.451 mph               (Group 2; fastest time set in Round 3)
11th:     Takuma Sato     59.8197 / 105.617 mph                (Group 1; fastest time set in Round 2)

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “Overall it was a good day and a good qualifying session but unfortunately we had a penalty which was quite harsh. Obviously I don’t want to impede anyone of course.  I went wide in Turn 1 and there were a lot of marbles. I went back on track when the Marshalls said to go. I couldn’t see much in the distance; not the closing speeds of any cars.  I tried my best to avoid impeding anyone but unfortunately I was penalized.  We worked through our run program and made good progress.  We were very strong in the wet as we have been this season.  Relatively, we lost a little speed at the end of the practice session when the track dried but we came back and were strong in qualifying.  Starting ninth (after the engine penalties) of two cars is a good effort.  I enjoy driving in Toronto and this was our best qualifying position on a street course this season.  Hopefully we can continue to learn in tomorrow’s warm-up and move forward in the race. Turn 3 is the best opportunity for passing as it’s after the long straight and one of the heaviest braking points on the street circuit. You go from sixth gear to first gear. Nothing is impossible but the other areas are pretty hard in terms of passing.”

FAST FACTS: This will be Sato’s third race in Toronto and his best starting position here to date.  He set the eighth fastest time in Round 2 of qualifying (-0.113 from 6th fastest time and the ability to progress to Round 3) but the series deleted his two fastest laps after they ruled he “impeded others” when he came back on track after driving in the run-off area in Turn 1.  He started 19th and finished 20th in 2011 and started 18th and finished 25th after contact in 2010.  Both with KV Racing Technology… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is third in Sao Paulo, Brazil 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.

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engineer for Sato:  “In the morning session we didn’t manage to get a clean lap on new tires at the end of the session so it was disappointing not to be able to evaluate all the changes we made overnight in dry conditions.  Going into qualifying, we were fairly confident that we got a direction with the car in terms of the balance with the changes we made and it was nice to see that we could progress from Round 1 into Round 2.  We made some changes on the car between rounds and they helped us improve our overall lap time to the tune of four-tenths (of a second) but we weren’t quite quick enough to stay in the top six to progress to Round 3.  To have our two fastest times taken away because of impeding other drivers, I can’t really make comment on that as I haven’t seen the video to analyze it myself but those calls are always difficult.  The series decided to take our two fastest times away so we finished 11th in the session. Given the two engine penalties of the people that finished in front of us, we should line up on the grid tomorrow ninth which is not too shabby either but I think there is still more time to come from the car in qualifying trim.  We will work hard to give Takuma a good race car tomorrow and try to collect some championship points tomorrow and try to boost our performance and ranking.”

1 POLE, 5 PODIUMS FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT TORONTOIt will be the 13th Indy car race for the team in Torontoand first since 2003.  The team also competed in the Atlantic Series races here in 2003 and 2004.  The team earned a total of four second place finishes (Rahal 1992, 1994, 1995; Michel Jourdain Jr. 2003) and best start was pole in 1992 by Bobby Rahal.  Prior to the 2012 event, the team prepared a total of 21 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03). The team also prepared three Toyota Atlantic entries (Danica Patrick 2003-2004; Chris Festa 2004).  The team has earned FIVE podiums (3rd – Rahal 1996), 9 top-five’s and 16 top-10 finishes at the track.

NEXT UP:  The morning warm-up will take place tomorrow from 8:30-9:00 a.m. ET and the Honda Indy Toronto will be televised live on ABC beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, July 8.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from