KV RACING TECHNOLOGY – LOTUS DRIVER E. J. VISO EIGHTH ON SPEED CHARTS AFTER FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE FOR INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA
KANAAN 22ND, SATO 23RD
SONOMA, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 26, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver E. J. Viso was eighth on the speed charts after the first day of practice for Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on the challenging 1.968-mile, 12-turn permanent road course in picturesque Sonoma, California. Teammates Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato were 22nd and 23rd respectively.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who tested here last week, recorded a fast time of 80.3457 seconds (103.189 mph). The 26-year-old Venezuelan, who will be attempting to qualify for his fourth race at Infineon Raceway, has a best qualifying position of 13th in 2009 and a best finish of sixth in 2008.
“It was exciting being back out on track, but we have a lot of work to do with the car,” Viso said. “We are lacking a huge amount of grip. I think all three KVRT – Lotus drivers agree on that. So we are going to have to work to fix that problem. Some of the testing we did last week has been helpful, but we need to work some more to make the car faster. This is one of those races where it is important to qualify well and the setup needs to be just right in order to have a good race.”
Viso, 21st in the standings with 180 points, 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. His career best finish on a road/street course is fourth at St. Petersburg in 2008 (overall career-high, third in Iowa). Viso, who qualified a season-high fifth on the Edmonton street circuit, has had several competitive races on road/street courses this year. However, his efforts have been stymied 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).
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who was limited to 30 minutes of practice time because he is in the top-10 in the standings and only used one set of tires, had a fast lap of 80.8517 seconds (102.543 mph). The 36-year-old Brazilian, 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 (fourth in 2007, third in 2008, eighth in 2009 and seventh in 2010).
Commenting on his day Kanaan said, “I did not test here last week so this was my first time on track since last year and I am working with a new engineer this weekend, so today was about getting to know each other. I think it is obvious we have a lot of work to do with the car before tomorrow’s qualifying. Fortunately, we have a lot of data to review and another practice tomorrow morning before qualifying.”
Kanaan, who has been in the top-five in the championship race almost the entire season, is currently fifth in the standings with 295 points, just 13 out of fourth. 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). Despite qualifying in the top-10 just twice in seven road/street events this year (with a best starting spot of eighth at St. Petersburg), Kanaan has never-the-less been extremely competitive. He has finished in the top-10 in five of the seven races 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, who like Kanaan, got only 30 minutes of practice because he is in the top-10 in the standings and used only one set of tires, posted a fast lap of 80.9204 seconds (102.456 mph). The 34-year-old from Japan is competing at Infineon Raceway for the second time. In his debut last year he qualified 17th and finished 18th.
Speaking about his day Sato said, “The problem we had at the test last week was getting the balance right and even though the car is better, we still have that problem. The car is just lacking grip. We collected some data today and checked some things we saw at the test, which worked out how we expected, so that was good. However, we need to find more speed.