...notes from the EDJE's Edmund Jenks spoke to Sean Rayhall ahead of this weekends races at Mid-Ohio.
While not directly related to the Bobby and Graham wing of this racing racing family, Sean Rayhall shares the Lebanese DNA, speed, and racing passion the more familiar Rahal family share in automobile motorsport.
This weekend, Rayhall will be racing in the 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series at Mid-Ohio ... a venue that has a long and storied history with the Ohio-based Rahal family that started out over 50 years ago when Bobby attended his first race as a kid with his father.
Bobby grew up and with the early support of Jim Truman, the one-time owner of the track at Mid-Ohio, won several times with a pair of wins in IMSA GT, IROC and of course CART. The Ohioan won the Indy 500 as driver in 1986 for TrueSports, a team sponsored and built through the efforts of Jim Truman, on the way to capturing three CART championships to his Rahal name.
Graham Rahal, Bobby's son, has always considered the Lexington, Ohio-based track a home track due to his father's history running there but Graham is frank about being stumped at doing well at Mid Ohio. Last year, he shared before a Mid-Ohio IndyCar test teleconference, "I've never really had a great result there. We've always been fast there. We've had some really strong runs, but we always have contact, I made a mistake in 2009, 2010. We were kind of charging through the field, made contact with Danica. Things have not been quite what we want."
Sean Rayhall currently leads the points championship, in a very tight grouping, as the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series heads into Mid-Ohio for two races - Rounds 5 and 6 of a 14 Round series season. Sean has 58 points followed closely by four drivers that are all within 13 points of each other (Mikhail Goikhberg - 57, Ryan Booth - 56, Daniel Goldburg - 52, and Scott Tucker - 45).
If Sean is able to have the same success as he did at the last two race venue of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (where he captured the pole starting position and won the 2 races), he would be able to take command of the championship and make the kind of statement few drivers are able to make at near mid season.
With the pressure on, and starting out the year in the first race at Sebring not scoring any points at all, Sean Rayhall answered a few questions going into the weekend at this famed road race course ... not looking at the Rahal family history, but to set a tone at making his own Rayhall history for his first time run at Mid-Ohio.
No points were scored in Round #1 ... did you race, and if so, what were the circumstances that led to not scoring a single point?
The circumstances were a failure with the shift mechanism in the car.
Have you ever driven Mid-Ohio in a race car, a track car, ... or even walked the course - how familiar are you to Mid-Ohio (general reflections)?
We tested at Mid-Ohio a few weeks ago. I have a lot of confidence in the car and the team after how the test went.
With two races, again, over the next couple of days, what do you see are the critical sections of the track and what do you intend to be on the look-out for?
Every corner at this place is critical, because most of them lead into another. So, consistently having a smooth flow is key from a driving standpoint.
Pre-Race - What are the team's thoughts on the upcoming weekend's races (Rounds #5, #6)?
Teams thoughts are always to win, but we are really focused on making our car even more consistent for the race. Yes, we hope for the pole, but a long race on this course with an ill handling car can lose races.
Additional thoughts on the season so far - racing in Prototype Lites from previous experiences - and what you are looking forward to after this weekend in the heartland of "Rahal" country?
The prototype Lites championship is going extremely well, I am fortunate to be a part of it and wear Robert Talbott's name in every event! I am looking for a smooth weekend in Ohio behind the wheel of this Robert Talbott Mazda, and looking forward to making Racing Radios, Race Lite Protection, Comprent Motorsports and Jerry Peters proud as well!
The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda title chase resumes this weekend (June 15-16) with a doubleheader at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The teams and drivers first roll on-course at Mid-Ohio today, Thursday (June 13), taking part in three track test sessions. The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda doubleheader officially commences Friday (June 14) with a morning practice session, followed by the lone qualifying run after the lunch break. Round Five is scheduled to take place on Saturday (June 15) at 9:10 am local time, while Round Six is slated for Sunday (June 16) at 12:55 pm local time. Live timing and scoring will be available at: http://prototypelites.com/timing/html