SPARTA, Kentucky (October 1, 2011) – A promising day ended before it began for Rahal Letterman Lanigan and Pippa Mann, as an incident prevented the team from posting a qualifying time for Sunday’s IZOD Indy Car Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
The team will start 29th on the grid for Sunday’s 200-lap Indy Car race, after the #30 Dallara/Honda/Firestone spun coming out of Pit Lane on its qualifying attempt. The car suffered front-end damage in light contact after the spin, but the team anticipates having the car prepared for tomorrow’s event.
“The guys worked very hard over the two practice sessions to get the car handling better, and then to find some speed,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal, who monitored the situation from the Petit Le Mans ALMS event in Road Atlanta where BMW Team RLL looked to seal the GT class Manufacturers Championship to go along with its Driver and Team titles. “I think Pippa and the team were gaining confidence with each lap in practice and we expect that to carry over to the race. I know that our team will do whatever it takes to have the car ready for Sunday, and we hope to have a good day.”
Mann made the most of a pair of early-afternoon practice sessions to help dial her car in for the qualifying effort, logging 94 trips around the Kentucky tri-oval in the afternoon, whittling her time down to a best effort of 24.6340 seconds (216.286 mph) in the second session. Mann was uninjured in the accident, and is anticipating a chance to compete on Sunday.
"It looks like the shift from first to second gear turned the car, and obviously cold tires and a cold track would have contributed to that,” Mann reported. “The whole aim of this weekend is still to go out there and do a nice, solid job, though to have this happen is incredibly disappointing.”