Takuma Sato Qualified 15th for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

POLE:             Will Power       1:01.3721 / 105.585 mph (set in Round 3)
15th                 Takuma Sato  1:02:6015 / 103.512 mph (set in Round 1; Group 1)             


TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “We made progress after the prac­tice this morning and found some things to improve the handling of the car but we weren’t able to go to the next stage of qual­i­fying which is disap­pointing. The race will be inter­esting because it will be the first time competing together with the new racing package. We will gather data tonight to give us an idea of what to expect in race trim and will know more at the warm-up.”


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.


GERRY HUGHES, Race Engi­neer for Sato:  “We are disap­pointed with our qual­i­fying perfor­mance. I think that we’ve made some gains from where we were at the end of P3 (third prac­tice).  We obvi­ously had to make some changes to the car for the alter­nate tire, which we hadn’t run until this point, and I think we made some improve­ments in terms of balance on the softer compound and we will have to see how those transfer to the morning warm-up. Then we will have to combine those with some further changes in terms of targeting an optimal race balance for tomorrow.”


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:  The pre-race warm-up will take place from 8:35 – 9:05 a.m.  The season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Peters­burg will be tele­vised live on ABC at 12:30 PM ET Sunday, March 25.