RAIN SHORTENS FIRST DAY OF PRACTICE FOR TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
KV RACING TECHNOLOGY FOURTH, EIGHTH AND 12TH ON SPEED CHARTS
Long Beach, Ca. – April 13, 2012 – Heavy rain in the afternoon shortened the first day of practice for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, California. With KV Racing Technology drivers Tony Kanaan, E. J. Viso and Rubens Barrichello, fourth, eighth and 12th respectively on the speed charts.
Kanaan, behind the wheel of the No. 11 MOUSER ELECTRONICS | GEICO – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone car, led the way for KVRT with a lap of 79.2201 seconds (89.432 mph) on the challenging 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. Viso, who pilots the No. 5 CITGO | PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone machine, posted a time of 80.0477 seconds (88.507 mph) while Barrichello, driving the No. 8 BMC | EMBRASE – KV Racing Technology Chevrolet/Firestone entry, recorded a lap of 80.9135 seconds (87.560 mph). All three times were set during the morning session which was held on a wet track under overcast skies that threatened, but did not produce rain. An hour after the morning practice concluded the skies opened up making track conditions so bad that the team decided not run.
Kanaan has qualified well and driven skillfully in the first two races of the season, however bad luck has plagued him in both events. Kanaan, a perennial championship contender currently sits 26th in the standings with 22 points. The 37-year-old Brazilian, in his 15th U. S. based open-wheel season 11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series and second with KVRT is contesting his ninth Long Beach Grand Prix. He has qualified in the top-10 five times including one pole, the first of his career in 1999. Kanaan has finished in the top-10 five times with a best showing of third in 2009 (fifths in 2010 and 1998).
“I didn’t run a lot of laps in the morning session, but I think we have a pretty good car,” Kanaan said. “Mostly I feel bad for the fans because the weather was bad. This is such a great event it is a shame the weather didn’t cooperate.”
Viso opened the season with the best start in his five-year IndyCar career (third with KVRT) placing a team-high eighth at St. Petersburg. In round two he qualified seventh (at Barber) then struggled with a car that simple did not have the pace and finished 21st. The 27-year-old Venezuelan is making his fifth appearance at Long Beach. In four previous events his best qualifying position is fourth in 2009 and his best finish is ninth in the Champ Car World Series finale in 2008. Viso is 12th in the championship standings with 36 points.
“It was a very short day today,” Viso said. “I am very excited to be back in Long Beach. It is definitely one of the most challenging street courses in the series. So far, even with the limited amount of laps we have run we feel we have a fast and balanced car, even if the track conditions were not ideal. We didn’t’ run the second practice due to the extreme weather conditions, but tomorrow we expect to have a sunny day and I think we are going to have a great weekend.”
Barrichello is coming off his first IndyCar top-10 finish, in just his second IndyCar event, having placed eighth two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama. The 39-year-old Brazilian, a veteran of 19 Formula One seasons, will be contesting just his second IndyCar street race having made his debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida (finished 17th) in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season opener. Barrichello, who is 10th in the championship race with 37 points, got an extra set of tires and an extra half hour of practice today after a ruling last week that gives him rookie status, but not eligibility for the Rookie of the Year award, on all tracks that where he has not tested.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get the full amount of time on track today because of the bad weather,” Barrichello said. “The good thing is I did get some extra track time this morning, but it looks like the conditions are going to be very different tomorrow.”
In today’s first practice which was conducted on a wet track and under overcast skies, Kanaan took team honors with a lap of putting him fourth on the practice report.