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"It is a fantastic feeling to finish third," said Sato. "It was an eventful race starting from the back of the grid.I needed to fight back so hard to get the positions back.The first part of the race was really hard, not necessarily on the overtaking but to follow the strategy, and at one stage we had a pit speed penalty but we gradually moved up.One-by-one we overtook cars which was very exciting.In the end, the restart got me into a great place; it was very exciting for me. There is always opportunity on a restart but you never know until you hit the brake because there is no plan basically.When Helio and Dario were in front of me, two wide, initially I thought there was no chance but when I saw their braking point was earlier than I expected I saw a little opportunity to dive inside. I was confident that I would make the corner so I was very excited. Finally, after a difficult weekend, it is a relief to get this result and I am really pleased to bring the team a third place and see the first checkered flag of the season. It was a great day.”
“It wasn’t a good day for us unfortunately," said Sato. "The first practice session was cut short because the engineers weren’t happy about some parameters and we had to stop early to check the gearbox.Everything ended up okay but the session was cut short which didn’t help us in terms of setting up the car. And then in the second practice I only ran a few laps before we had an engine problem which led to us not being able to take part in qualifying because of the amount of time it took to change the engine. The long straight with heavy braking here means you can overtake but starting from the back it is going to be tough. We will fight back to gain positions tomorrow and hopefully we will have a strong package.We will see how the car will be in the warm-up tomorrow.I don’t mind whether it is a dry race or a wet race. To go from the back of the grid in the wet would be quite difficult in terms of visibility but there is more of a chance to go forward. In a dry race, realistically it would be very difficult to get a top result but nothing is impossible. It will be an exciting race for sure.”
INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2012) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today that Michel Jourdain Jr., who brought the team Indy car wins in Montreal and Milwaukee Champ Car World Series races in 2003, will return to the team for the 2012 Indianapolis 500. Jourdain’s No. 30 Honda-Dallara-Firestone entry will be sponsored by Office Depot Mexico with associate sponsorship from Roshfrans, Grupo Indi and Grupo Multi.
The Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Nestlé marks Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s first time to compete on the Streets of São Paulo.Previously the team competed in five CART-sanctioned events in Rio de Janeiro from 1996-2000 with Bobby Rahal (1996-1998), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-00), and Kenny Brack (2000).The best start for the team on the 1.86-mile, D-shaped oval in Rio was third by Rahal in 1997. The team’s best finish in Brazil is fourth, by Herta (1998) and Papis (1999). Over the 10 entries between 1996-00, the team had four top-five and eight top-10 starts as well as two top-five and seven top-10 finishes (chart available).The team will field the No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato.
“I haven’t seen the checkered flag yet this season," said Sato. "It was a very exciting race; right from the start -- a hell of a race.We started from the primary Firestone tires and I was surrounded by drivers on alternate tires and it was a very hard situation for us but I kept the position. On the restart, I was overtaking and gained a position and when I was on the alternate tires I was driving like crazy; passing Will Power and others and then I led the race.On the last stint we had to work on the fuel mileage and on the very last lap Ryan Hunter-Reay basically took me out.There was not enough depth on his overtaking maneuver.He had a chance for the last few corners so it’s very disappointing to finish the race this way.Again we showed good performance and we will carry this good momentum to Brazil.”
Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 14, 2012… With a second place GT class finish by the No. 56 BMW Team RLL M3 GT in today’s American Le Mans Series at Long Beach race, BMW is tied for the manufacturer’s point lead. The second podium of the young ALMS season for Joey Hand and Dirk Müller solidifies their lead in the driver’s standings.
“I am disappointed to not make it through to Round 2," said Sato. "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.”
“It’s a shame for the fans that the weather was unlike the usual Long Beach weather," said Sato. "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.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing began their 21st consecutive season of competition in 2012.The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB) marks the team’s 13th time to compete in the event and their first 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 (Herta 1998, Vasser 2002, Jourdain, Jr. 2003); made five front row starts including an all-Team Rahal front row in 1998 (2nd – Rahal 1998, 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).
Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – April 9, 2012… Following a four-week intermission after BMW Team RLL’s GT class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring American Le Mans Series curtain-raiser the second act of the team’s ALMS GT class title defense will be set in the streets of Long Beach, California on April 14th.