KV RACING TECHNOLOGY – LOTUS LOOKING FOR STRONG PERFORMANCE THIS WEEKEND AT SONOMA
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – AUGUST 24, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus drivers Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso will be looking to continue their strong performances on road/street circuits beginning this weekend at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on the challenging 1.968-mile, 12-turn permanent road course in picturesque Sonoma, California.
KVRT – Lotus has had some of their best results this season on tracks that require drivers to turn right as well as left and earning nine top-10 finishes with five top-five finishes in seven road/street events. With the next three events of the 2011 season all road/street events (Sonoma, the streets of Baltimore and the road course at Twin Ring Motegi), the team will attempt to use this portion of the season to move up in the championship standings.
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, is having his best season in three years. The perennial championship contender is currently fifth in the championship race with 295 points, just 13 out of fourth. Kanaan is coming off a disappointing performance at New Hampshire where he was running in the top-10 when he was the victim in an incident involving two other cars. Kanaan, who has the best average finish of any IndyCar driver that has competed in all six races at Infineon Raceway (5.67), has qualified in the top-10 all six times with a best starting position of third in 2005 and 2007. He has finished in the top-10 five times with a win in 2005 (11 in 2006, fourth in 2007, third in 2008, eighth in 2009 and seventh in 2010).
"It's always good to go back to a track where I've won before, it's always a good feeling,” Kanaan said. “Sonoma is a beautiful area and the track is awesome to drive at, so I'm excited going back to the west coast. The team had a successful test last week with Taku and EJ and I'm looking forward to hitting the track on Friday to get the weekend going."
In 12 races this season (Texas two starts), Kanaan leads KVRT – Lotus with eight top-10 finishes including six top-five showings and two podiums (second at Iowa and third at St. Petersburg) in 13 races (Texas two starts). The 36-year-old Brazilian has been extremely competitive on the road/street circuits finishing in the top-10 in five of the seven races already contested this year including three top-five finishes and a podium (St. Petersburg, third; Edmonton, fourth; Mid-Ohio, fifth also placed sixth at Barber and eighth at Long Beach).
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, currently 10th in the standings with 238 points is coming off a solid seventh place performance at New Hampshire. Sato will be competing at Infineon for the second time. In his debut last year he qualified 17th and finished 18th.
“We tested at Sonoma last week, which was very good because we had a chance to work on some things for this weekend’s race,” Sato said. “However, it was a mixed bag. It was very challenging to get the balance right, but we tried many different setups, which was productive. Hopefully, we come back much stronger for the weekend than the test. I like the area and the track, so I am looking forward to the race in Sonoma.”
Sato, who is having a breakout season, has finished in the top-10 six times this year including scoring his first three IndyCar top-five finishes (career-high fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifths at St. Petersburg and Texas. The 34-year-old from Japan has also earned his first two IndyCar poles (on the oval in Iowa and the street circuit in Edmonton, becoming the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar pole), led his first IndyCar race (at Brazil) and subsequently led three other races (Iowa, Edmonton, New Hampshire) for a total of 61 laps. Sato, a veteran of seven Formula 1 seasons, has been strong on street and road circuits this year. He has earned the fourth at Mid-Ohio, the fifth at St. Petersburg, an eighth at Brazil, the pole at Edmonton and has had strong performances at Barber, Long Beach and Edmonton nullified by incidents.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, 21st in the standings with 180 points, had a top-10 showing at New Hampshire wiped out by the decision to void the final restart and placed 12th. He will be contesting his fourth race at Sonoma where he has a best qualifying position of 13th in 2009 and a best finish of sixth in 2008.
"Sonoma is always a great place to race,” Viso said. “We tested there last week and definitely found some improvements in the car that we can use for this weekend. We went through a very extensive test program and there are a couple of things that we still need to work on in practice, but I'm excited to see how the weekend turns out."
Viso has finished in the top-10 three times this year, twice on ovals, a season-high seventh in race one at Texas and 10th in the second as well as a road/street course season-high ninth at Toronto. Viso’s career best finish on a road/street course is fourth at St. Petersburg in 2008 (overall career-high, third in Iowa). The 26-year-old Venezuelan has had competitive races on the street/road circuits this year. However, his efforts have been negated by a string of unfortunate incidents, most of which can only be described as bad luck (punctured tire at St. Pete, hit by another competitor at Barber, contact in Long Beach, questionable blocking penalty at Brazil, two punctured tires at Toronto and contact in Edmonton).