Sato Set Second Fastest Lap Time in Practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach; Rain Limited Amount of Running

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
IZOD IndyCar Series
NOTES/QUOTES – Friday, April 13, 2012


FASTEST:         Marco Andretti  1:17.2298 / 91.737 mph              (11 total laps)
2nd:                  Takuma Sato     1:17.9448 / 90.895 mph              (7 total laps)                  

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It’s a shame for the fans that the weather was unlike the usual Long Beach weather. The first practice session started with damp conditions and we ran very few laps just to see how the initial setup was in terms of ride height and those sorts of things.  We didn’t have a proper run today so all of the work is moving to tomorrow. Hopefully we have a good one-hour session before qualifying. It was too wet for dry tires and too dry for wet tires. I was on a wet patch on dry tires and touched the wall which damaged the front wing but the team fixed it and we will be ready for a good day tomorrow.  We didn’t run in the second practice session because there was no knowledge to be gained in the wet. If the weather forecast was for rain Saturday or Sunday, we might have run but the forecast is for dry weather.”

FAST FACTS: Will make his third start at this track. His best start here is 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.


TOM ANDERSON, Managing Director of Racing Operations:  “Our focus is on reliability totally and on not beating yourself. In reality, in the first two races we have beat ourselves. We had the issue in St. Petersburg with the fuel and then we had a partner have a problem at Barber so right now the whole focus and the point is to fix things in house and with our partners in order to start running reliably. We have shown the speed and I have complete confidence in Takuma and our engineering department to understand the new Dallara chassis. Right now the issue is about putting a new team and all of the systems in place.  As soon as we stop beating ourselves, the results will come quickly.  The lack of track time due to the rain is more detrimental to us because what we are short of is practice time. Any time you reduce the amount of running during the weekend, you immediately put the advantage to the more experience drivers and teams so this is a disadvantage to us as we return to fulltime competition. When you have weather that is going to change dramatically from the practice day to the race day it is a detriment.”

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:  Practice will take place tomorrow from 10:25-11:25 a.m. PT and qualifying will take place from 2:00-3:20 p.m.  Timing and Scoring information is available for all sessions from  NBC Sports Network will air a qualifying show at 6:00 p.m. ET Saturday, 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.