Sato to Start 16th in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama After Traffic Hindered Qualifying Attempt

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Honda Indy Grand Prix of AlabamaBarberMotorsportsPark
IZOD IndyCar Series
NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, March 31, 2012


POLE: Helio Castroneves      1:10.4768 / 117.485 mph        (set in Round 3)
16th:    Takuma Sato              1:10.6111 / 117.262 mph        (set in Round 1)

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “Qualifying was difficult because this morning we didn’t have a chance to see how the car was overnight due to the fog that cancelled the session. We went straight into qualifying without running at speed today, and it looks like the red alternate Firestone tires have great grip but a short life so you have to get your quick lap time done within two laps.  Once I was on track and up to speed, unfortunately on my first lap I caught traffic and that was it.  The balance wasn’t great but I think we would have been able to go to Round 2 so I am extremely disappointed because this track is very difficult to overtake on. Tomorrow’s warm-up will be very important to see how both the red and primary black tires effect because it looks like managing the tires correctly will be a key factor in the race.”


FAST FACTS: Will make his third start at this track. He qualified 11th here in 2011 and finished 16th and qualified sixth in 2010 and finished 15th – both for KV Racing Technology… Will be 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. He qualified 15th and passed three cars on the start, passed three cars on the second (re)start and two on another to move to the lead two times. He pitted from the lead for his final stop and suffered a mechanical failure that resulted in a 22nd place finish… 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).  He led a total of 61 laps in 2011.

INDY 500 HELMET CONTEST: Sato is holding a “With you Japan” Charity Design Contest and the winner’s design will be featured on his Indy 500 helmet.  The winner will be chosen April 6. For more information log on to:

GERRY HUGHES, Race Engineer for Sato:  “After a productive days work yesterday in Practice 1 in the dry and getting a reasonable read on the car balance in Practice 2 in the wet, we went into qualifying with a reasonable degree of confidence about the balance of the car and overall performance.  Clearly everyone was in the same boat this morning in terms of little or no running at all.  So to have our one chance in qualifying disrupted by a car in front of us that was clearly a lot slower and should have moved out of the way is disappointing but we have to take that on the chin and look forward to tomorrow and ensure we give the driver the best car we can in warm-up and then on into the race.”

RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT BARBER… 2012 marks the 21st consecutive season of competition for the team.  It will be the first IndyCar Series race for the RLL at Barber.  The team is hoping to carry the momentum from the season-opener in St. Pete to Barber after having led two times for a total of 11 laps with Sato.

NEXT UP:  The morning warm-up will take place tomorrow from 8:40-9:10 a.m. CT.  The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised live on NBC Sports Network at 2:00 p.m. ET Sunday, April 1.  “INDYCAR 36” will debut at 1:30 p.m. ET on the same network and will focus on driver Tony Kanaan.