KV RACING TECHNOLOGY– LOTUS SPENDS FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE DEVELOPING SETUP FOR TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
LONG BEACH, CA – APRIL 15, 2011 -- KV Racing Technology – Lotus has the advantage of fielding a team with three talented drivers. They used that advantage today as all three shared the workload during the first day of practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, to be held Sunday, April 17, on the streets of Long Beach, California.
KVRT – Lotus spent the morning session running through their test plan, then in the afternoon took what they collectively learned and refined it in the afternoon practice. At the end of the day, with a clear direction established for tomorrow’s qualifying, Tony Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, was the fastest of the three KVRT – Lotus drivers and the 11th fastest in the field of 27 with a lap of 71.5954 seconds (98.956 mph). Takuma Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, was 15th on the speed charts posting a time of 71.8077 seconds (98.664 mph), while E. J. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology – Lotus was 20th recording a lap of 71.9979 seconds (98.403 mph). All three drivers ran their quick laps during the afternoon practice on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit.
Kanaan is coming off a third place finish in the season opener in St. Petersburg and a spectacular performance at Barber Motorsports Park in round two where he improved 18 positions to finish sixth. The 2004 IndyCar Series Champion is currently third in the standings with 63 points just 31 out of first and 24 out of second. Kanaan, from Brazil, will be making his eighth appearance on the streets of Long Beach this weekend. In seven previous races he has qualified in the top-six a total of four times including capturing his first career U. S. based open-wheel pole in 1999. He has finished in the top-seven on four occasions with a best showing of third in 2009 (placed fifth twice, last year and in his TGPLB debut in 1998).
"We had a good and productive day,” said Kanaan. “We had the opportunity to test a lot of different things on the car and we found a good baseline for tomorrow's practice and hopefully we'll have a strong qualifying session."
Sato finished an IndyCar career high fifth at St. Petersburg, then qualified a team-high 11th at Barber where he was on course for a top-10 finish before having some difficulties and finishing 16th. The Japanese star, in just his second IndyCar season, is eighth in the championship standings with 44 points and just 10 points out of fifth. Sato, who based on his performance on the streets of St. Petersburg, is primed for another strong weekend here in Long Beach where he will be making his second start.
We had the opportunity to test a lot of different things on the car...
Commenting on today’s practices Sato said. “We tried many things today and we made reasonably good progress, however the field is again very competitive. We really need to work hard on improving the speed of the car. I think all three drivers collected valuable data today that we will go through tonight.
Viso, who suffered a puncture in the season opener and then was the victim of an on-track incident at Barber, is looking for some better luck. The young and determined Venezuelan currently sits 24th in the standings with 24 points. However, he is just 18 points out of 10th place. With a good performance in Long Beach, where he has enjoyed some success, he could easily move within striking distance of a spot in the top-10. Viso’s career best qualifying effort came here at Long Beach in 2009 when he started fourth and he has a solid ninth place finish to his credit in three previous starts.
“Today was day where we did a lot of work as a team,” Viso said. “We divided the work load between the three cars. Now we have to sit down and put the best scenarios together. During the last part of the session we made some changes to my car that I think were good, but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to do back-to-back runs on my second set of new tires because of the yellow flags. We are heading in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do to improve the car.
In this morning’s first practice, Kanaan led the team with the 10th fastest lap recording a time of 71.9816 seconds (98.425 mph). Viso was 13th with a lap of 72.1992 seconds (98.129 mph) and Sato was 17th at 72.5953 seconds (97.593 mph).
We still have a lot of work to do to improve the car.
Sato announces International “With you Japan” Program:
KVRT – Lotus driver Takuma Sato introduced today the International “With you Japan” Program to help support children affected by the tragedy in Japan. The program, which collaborates with the “Children Mending Hearts” organization, will engage in several fundraising events including speaking engagements, merchandise sales, celebrity collectible auctions and mobile phone donations. Sato will also carry the “With you Japan” program message on his car and helmet. For information and how you can help, please visit: www.WithYouJapan.org or “With you Japan” Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WithYouJapanCharity or Children Mending Hearts: www.childrenmendinghearts.org
KV Racing Technology – Lotus Long Beach Grand Prix history:
KVRT – Lotus has made 17 starts at Long Beach between 2003 and 2010. They have qualified in the top-10 five times with a best starting position of fourth by Will Power in 2008. They have finished in the top-10 eight times with two top-five showing including a win, again by Power in 2008. Also in 2008, in the Champ Car World Series finale, KVRT placed three cars in the top-10 with Power winning, Oriol Servia finishing fifth and KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser, in his last open-wheel race, placing 10th.
Kanaan looking to extend consecutive race streak:
Kanaan will be attempting to qualify for his 134th consecutive IndyCar race tomorrow, which would extend his streak as the active driver with the most consecutive starts (Scott Sharp hold the series record with 138 while KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser is the all-time leader with 211 consecutive starts).