KV RACING TECHNOLOGY – LOTUS DRIVER TAKUMA SATO FINISHES SEVENTH IN MOVETHATBLOCK.COM INDY 225
E. J. VISO PERSEVERS, FINISHES 12TH KANAAN VICTIM IN THREE-CAR INCIDENT
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE – AUGUST 14, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver Takuma Sato drove a strong race and overcame two on track incidents, the second following a questionable restart after a caution for rain, to finish seventh today in the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. E. J. Viso persevered through a rough first stint to finish 12th while Tony Kanaan was solidly in the top-10 when he became the victim of a three-car incident and placed 22nd.
The start of today’s race was moved ahead by 30 minutes due to the threat of rain, which did materialize causing two extended caution periods.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who contested his first race at New Hampshire, qualified eighth. He engaged in several spirited battles during the early part of the race and in the end won most of them climbing to fifth place prior to the first round of pit stops. Having saved fuel, he was able to go one lap further than the leaders and after the first stop Sato was in second place. He ran in second for much of the second stint, which included a long caution for rain. Following the restart at the end of the rain caution there was a second caution followed by a restart. During the second restart, Sato became entangled with race leader Dario Franchitti. The contact damaged Sato’s right front tire and front wing. Two pit stops later his car was functional, if not in perfect condition, and Sato resumed the battle now in eighth place, but still on the lead lap. He battled throughout the remainder of the contest and actually took the lead for several laps when he was able to remain on track because of the extra fuel he got during the stop for repairs. Following his fourth and final stop, Sato was running in seventh place, when there was a second caution for rain. With rain still falling and track conditions borderline at best, officials ordered a questionable restart which resulted in several cars colliding. Sato was in the middle of the melee and knocked out of the race. However, race officials immediately threw a red flag, which reverted the field to the positions the drivers held two laps prior to the restart placing Sato seventh.
“At the start of the race we had three consecutive restarts. It was very crowded, but I had some exciting battles where at first I lost, but in the end I gained positions. Then during the first stint I raced hard and gained some places on track, which was very exciting and at the same time I saved fuel, so I was able to go one more lap and I moved into second place. Then there was a restart, which was quickly followed by another caution and a restart. During that second restart I got tangled with Dario (Franchitti) and I had to come into the pits for repairs. After that the car was still slightly damaged, but I was able to push really hard and fight for position. At the end of the race there was a caution for rain and during the restart the track was very slippery. Just before we crossed the start/finish line there was an accordion and a big crash. I am really disappointed to finish the race this way.”
Sato picked up 26 points today and is now 10th in the standings with 238 points. The 34-year-old from Japan 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). On ovals, he has earned three top-10 finishes (oval career-high fifth at Texas race No. 1, seventh at New Hampshire and an eighth at Milwaukee) and led his first oval laps, seven, at Iowa (led x laps here today).
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, also making his first start at New Hampshire, began the day 17th on the grid. He had a tire problem during his first stint, but persevered and held position. During his second and third stints he drove a smart patient race and avoided the problems that many drivers experienced during restart. Battling throughout the contest he worked his way into the top-10 getting as high as eighth, but a penalty for passing the lead car during the yellow dropped him back to 12th.
“Unfortunately, I had a problem during my first stint with my tires,” Viso said. “After the first pit stop the car was good, but we had a long way to fight back through the field. The PDVSA – KVRT – Lotus crew did a great job on the stops and I was able to stay free of any trouble and pass some cars on track. We got ourselves in a position to finish in the top-8, however, after the accident that happened during the restart when the track was wet, the officials made a decision to revert the field back to the order we were in prior to the restart, so I ended up 12th.
Viso scored 18 points today and is now 21st in the standings with 180 points, The 26-year-old Venezuelan 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. His best road/street course finish is ninth at Toronto. Viso’s IndyCar career-high finish is a third on the oval at Iowa last year.
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who like his teammates competed at New Hampshire for the first time, started a season-high tying third. He dropped to sixth during the first stint, but was having a very strong race. Kanaan was in 10th place following the first pit stop, but shortly after the restart following the rain caution, Kanaan went to pass Marco Andretti, who was a lap down, on the low line while Tomas Scheckter attempted to pass Andretti on the high side. Scheckter and Andretti made contact sending Scheckter sliding across the track directly into the path of a helpless Kanaan. The resulting contact knocked both cars out of the race ending Kanaan’s race.
"You've got to ask Marco and Scheckter what they were thinking... I was on the inside and all of a sudden I got collected. I don't know who hit who where, but they gotta have something to explain. When a car is a lap down, they shouldn't be racing the cars that are on the lead lap. I'm glad that I'm ok, but I'm upset for the GEICO – KVRT – Lotus guys... The car was not the fastest car out there today, but there were still important points for us. Let's move on."
Kanaan earned 12 points for his effort today and is now fifth in the championship race with 295 points, 13 points out of fourth. The 36-year-old Brazilian 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). In six oval events this year Kanaan has earned three top-five finishes with one podium (Indy 500, fourth; Texas race No. 2, fifth and Iowa, second) and led 58 laps (Milwaukee, 33 and Iowa, 25).
KVRT – Lotus has been exceptionally competitive on ovals this year. In the six oval races contested so far this year, counting Texas as two starts, KVRT – Lotus has finished in the top-10 eight times (Sato four times, Kanaan three, Viso once), including four top-five showings (Kanaan three, Sato once) and one podium performance (Kanaan’s second place showing at Iowa). In three short oval races the team has led laps in all three events, 33 at Milwaukee (all by Kanaan), 32 at Iowa (Kanaan, 25, Sato 7) and 13 at New Hampshire (all by Sato), however late race incidents have foiled their chances at a victory and limited their results to two top-10 finishes, an eighth at Milwaukee (Sato) and a second at Iowa (Kanaan).