KV RACING TECHNOLOGY – LOTUS DRIVER E. J. VISO QUALIFIES NINTH FOR TOMORROW’S INDY GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA; SATO TO START 16TH, KANAAN 21ST

EJ Viso, KV Racing Technology-Lotus
EJ Viso, KV Racing Technology-Lotus

Photo by: IndyCar Series

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 27, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver E. J. Viso had his third consecutive strong road/street course qualifying session and will start ninth in tomorrow’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who took team honors in qualifying for the first time this year, recorded a speed of 79.0724 seconds (104.851 mph) on the challenging 1.968-mile, 12-turn permanent road course and will lineup on the inside of row five. Viso has made it to at least the second round of road/street qualifying in the last three events, including making the final round the Firestone Fast Six once. In addition to today’s ninth place starting spot he qualified a season-high fifth at Edmonton and 12th at Mid-Ohio.

“So far this weekend has been very challenging for the team,” Viso said. “This is a very difficult track to come up with the right setup. It requires us to sacrifice something in one corner to gain in another, so we still need to try and find the right solution. Qualifying ninth for the race is very important as it's always a very long race and this will give us a better chance for a good result.”

This is the seventh time in eight road/street events this year that KVRT – Lotus has had at least one driver advance to the second round of road/street course qualifying (missed only in Toronto). Sato has made it to the second round five times (St. Petersburg, Barber, Sāo Paulo, Edmonton and Mid-Ohio), Kanaan three times (St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Edmonton) and Viso the last three consecutive times (Edmonton, Mid-Ohio and here in Sonoma).

Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, qualified with a lap of 79.3836 seconds (104.440 mph) and will grid on the outside of row eight. Commenting on his qualifying run Sato said, “I am extremely disappointed. We have tried several changes, but they didn’t give us enough speed. Tonight we have to look at all the data and find something for the race tomorrow.”

Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, had a fast lap of 79.7270 seconds (103.990 mph). He will start on the inside of row No. 11. Regarding qualifying Kanaan said, "It's just disappointing. We couldn't find a good balance for the car both yesterday and today and that translated to a bad qualifying run. We'll work overnight to find a solution for tomorrow's warm-up and see how that goes. Hopefully we can do better than this for the race."

Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, has now qualified in the top-10 three times this year. He qualified an oval career-high sixth at Milwaukee to go with the season-high fifth at Edmonton and the ninth today. The 26-year-old Venezuelan also earned his best starting position in four attempts here at Infineon Raceway surpassing a 13th place starting in 2009. His best finish is sixth in 2008. 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 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 were just bad luck.

Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, has been the team’s best qualifier this year starting in the top-11 a total of 10 times, the top-10 eight times, the top-five four times with two poles (IndyCar career first at Iowa and second on the street circuit at Edmonton) in 13 races (not counting Texas No. 2). He has qualified in the top-11 five times in eight attempts on road/street circuits this year including taking the pole at Edmonton. 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. Sato is 10th in the standings with 238 points. He has finished in the top-10 six times including his first three IndyCar top-five finishes (career-high fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifths at St. Petersburg and Texas). Sato has been strong on street and road circuits this year earning 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.

Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, has qualified in the top-10 seven times including three top-five starting spots. The 36-year-old Brazilian, who failed to qualify in the top-10 for the first time in seven attempts here in Sonoma, has a best starting position of third in 2005 and 2007. Kanaan has the best average finish of any IndyCar driver that has competed in all six races at Infineon Raceway (5.67), placing in the top-10 five times with a win in 2005 (fourth in 2007, third in 2008, eighth in 2009 and seventh in 2010). Kanaan is fifth in the championship race with 295 points, just 13 out of fourth. He has finished in the top-10 eight times including six top-five showings and two podiums (second at Iowa and third at St. Petersburg). Kanaan has qualified in the top-10 just twice in eight road/street events this year (with a best starting spot of eighth at St. Petersburg), but 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).

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.

In this morning’s practice today, Viso had the fastest lap of the KVRT – Lotus trio with a time of 79.8847 seconds (103.785 mph) putting him 15th on the practice report. Sato was 17th with a lap of 79.8996 seconds (103.765 mph) with Kanaan 23rd at 80.0603 seconds (103.557 mph)