Sato Qualified 13th for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; Will Start Sixth Due to Series Penalties to Teams for Unapproved Engine Changes

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
IZOD IndyCar Series
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, April 14, 2012


POLE: Ryan Briscoe              1:08.6089        (set in Round 3)
13th:    Takuma Sato              1:09.9000        (set in Round 1)

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “I am disappointed to not make it through to Round 2. The track was quite slippery in the beginning of qualifying and unfortunately I kissed the wall a little bit and bent the toe-link. Because of the limited time I had to continue and improved the lap time but I couldn’t make it through to Round 2. We will go through the data from today and hopefully have a good package for the race.  We just need a trouble-free race and we can get a good result.”


FAST FACTS: Will make his third start at this track. Previously, his best start here was 19th and best finish is 18th – both for KV Racing Technology in 2010… His best road/street course qualifying was pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is fourth at Mid-Ohio which is also his best overall career IndyCar finish… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… Sato led the season-opener in St. Pete two times for a total of 11 laps. In total, he made eight passes on the start/restarts and during the race. He pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish… Also made four passes at Barber but retired with mechanical failure… 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:  “We were seventh quickest in our qualifying round and a tenth-and-a-half (of a second) would have put us in sixth place and we would have managed to go to Round 2 so we are very disappointed given where we felt we could be. And for the first time this year we felt we had the potential to go to Round 2 so it’s been a disappointing afternoon. I suppose the only positive to come out of that is that with all the engine penalties that Chevy-powered cars will have for tomorrow’s final grid, it means that we will be bumped up in the order but it would be nice to get there on our own merits instead of other people’s misfortunes.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT LONG BEACH 2012 will mark the 21st consecutive season of competition for the team and 13th Indy car race in Long Beach… This will mark the FIRST time for RLL to compete in the Indy car race at Long Beach since 2003 when Michel Jourdain, Jr. won pole, led a race high 48 laps and was in the lead when his car stuck in gear on his final stop with seven laps to go and ultimately retired in 15th place.  In total, the team won three poles (Bryan Herta 1998, Jimmy Vasser 2002, Michel Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, Kenny Brack 2001); earned their best finish of second place three times (Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002) and earned five podiums (2nd – Rahal 1992-1993, Vasser 2002; 3rd – Herta 1998-1999).

RLL IS ONLY TEAM TO COMPETE IN LONG BEACH ICS/ALMS “DOUBLEHEADER”… This weekend’s race will mark the first time for the team to compete in two series on the same weekend in almost five years.  RLL’s ALMS and Indy car teams last competed at the same venue on September 1-2, 2007 at Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle.  BMW Team RLL fields two BMW M3’s for drivers Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Jörg Müller and Bill Auberlen. In three years of competing in Long Beach, BMW Team RLL has finished third in 2009 and 2010 and won in 2011 with Hand and Dirk Müller.  Hand, Dirk Müller and third driver Jonathan Summerton started the 2012 season with a win in the 12 Hours of Sebring — the previous ALMS race.  The team’s other entry, driven by Jörg Müller, Bill Auberlen and Uwe Alzen led the race at one point and finished fourth in the ALMS GT class.

NEXT UP:  Morning- warm-up will take place tomorrow from 9:15-9:45 a.m. PT the 85-lap Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will take the Green Flag at 1:17 p.m.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from  NBC Sports Network will begin their race broadcast at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, April 14.  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, April 15.  “INDYCAR 36” will air on the same network before the race broadcast at 3:00 p.m. ET and will feature team-owner Bobby Rahal’s son, Graham