Takuma Sato Had Trouble-Free Practice Sessions on Opening Day of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Season

FASTEST:      Will Power       1:02.0077 / 104.503 mph

18th                Takuma Sato   1:02:9594 / 102.923 mph                   


TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was the first day of the season and basi­cally it was a trouble-free day which is very impor­tant. We collected as much data as possible and had a long list of things to do today but the learning process was quite good.  It was good to see the boys able to work on pit stops in a race envi­ron­ment for the first time too. We will continue to work hard tomorrow.”


FAST FACTS: Will make his third start at this track.  He qual­i­fied 11th in 2011 and finished fifth and qual­i­fied 11th in 2010 and retired in 22nd place after contact in 2010 – both for KV Racing Tech­nology… Will be Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar… 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 has led a total of 61 laps.


TOM ANDERSON, Managing Director Motor­sport Oper­a­tions:  “It was the first day of the season and everyone is learning how to work together on a race weekend.  You never under­stand people’s person­al­i­ties until you work with them on race weekend. Now the adren­a­line starts to flow and you start to learn about your people. We had to assess a base­line and go from there. We made a few mistakes this morning with the new soft­ware which held us up a little bit. Other little issues cropped up which is not unusual; its just a matter of learning how to work with each other and how much instruc­tion is needed for each different person­ality because when you haven’t worked with people before, if you give too much you insult them and if you don’t give enough the job doesn’t get done correctly.  In most cases right now, we are in situ­a­tions where we haven’t given enough instruc­tions. We will build each day so tomorrow will be better than today and so on. All in all, I am happy. Takuma has been driving hard today and there are things we can do to make the car more to his liking.  It is the first IndyCar weekend for (race engi­neer) Gerry Hughes and he is getting accli­mated to the way the series works after coming from Formula One as is (tech­nical director) Jay O’Connell, who has been focused on our successful sports car program for the past few years.”


RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT ST. PETE 2012 will mark the 21st consec­u­tive season of compe­ti­tion for the team.  It will be the fifth IndyCar race for the team in St. Pete and the ninth car entered. The team prepared Indy cars for Danica Patrick (2005, 2006), Buddy Rice (2005, 2006), Vitor Meira (2005), Jeff Simmons (2007), Scott Sharp (2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008) prior to this year. The team led the race for four laps with Hunter-Reay in 2008 (G. Rahal won) and has earned three top-10 finishes with the best being fifth by Meira in 2005.  The highest starting posi­tion by the team is sixth place by Hunter-Reay in 2008.


NEXT UP:  Prac­tice will take place tomorrow morning from 9:55 – 10:55 a.m. ET and qual­i­fying will take place from 1:55 – 3:15 PM.  Timing and Scoring infor­ma­tion is avail­able for all sessions from www.indycar.com.  The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Peters­burg will be tele­vised live on ABC at 12:30 PM ET Sunday, March 25.