KV RACING TECHNOLOGY– LOTUS HEADS TO LONG BEACH WITH CHANCE TO MOVE UP IN THE STANDINGS
VASSER TO BE INDUCTED INTO LONG BEACH MOTORSPORTS WALK OF FAME
LONG BEACH, CA – APRIL 13, 2011 -- KV Racing Technology – Lotus drivers, Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso head to this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 15-17, in Long Beach, California with an eye toward moving up in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings.
After the first two races of the 2011 season KVRT – Lotus has two drivers in the top-eight in the standings and a third just outside the top-10. Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, is currently third in the championship race with 63 points just 31 out of first place and 24 out of second. Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, sits eighth in the standings with 44 points, but is just 10 points out of fifth place. Meanwhile, E. J. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, currently 24th in the standings, is just 18 points out 10th place.
Kanaan has started the season strong. After signing with KVRT – Lotus just six days before the season opener he has put together two outstanding races. The talented Brazilian and 2004 IndyCar Series Champion finished third in the season opener at St. Petersburg then had a spectacular performance in the second event improving 18 positions to finish sixth at Barber Motorsports Park. Kanaan will be making his eighth appearance on 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit 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).
"It's always good to go back to Long Beach, a track that I always liked since the CART days,” Kanaan said. “It's actually one of my favorite races of the year. In 2010, I had a Top-five result there and hopefully we can have another strong result to keep our momentum going before we get to Brazil."
It's always good to go back to Long Beach, a track that I always liked since the CART days,
Sato has also been impressive in the opening two events of the season. The Japanese star finished a career-high fifth to start his second IndyCar season, then qualified a team-high 11th at Barber where he was running securely in the top-10 before a couple of on-track incidents and a refueling problem dropped him to 16th. Based on his performance on the streets of St. Petersburg, Sato is primed for another strong weekend here in Long Beach where he will be making his second start.
Commenting on this weekend’s race Sato said, "Long Beach has a great history and atmosphere so hopefully we will have a successful weekend here. The track is a slippery and bumpy street course and because of the various different corner characteristics it's quite tricky to get the car balance right here. Last year we struggled getting up to speed in qualifying but at St Pete recently we found some useful set-up lessons that could help us here. My KV Technology-Lotus team is working well together this year and in the first two races so far we have always been able to improve performance over the course of the weekend, so I hope this pattern continues at Long Beach."
Viso has had two eventful weekends to open the season. He suffered a puncture in the season opener when he ran over some debris and then was the victim of an on-track incident at Barber. Never-the-less, the young and determined Venezuelan is just one good performance away from getting himself back into the thick of things and Long Beach may be just the place for him to do it. 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.
Long Beach is definitely one of my favorite venues and tracks...
"Long Beach is definitely one of my favorite venues and tracks, there is something special about this place,” Viso said. “It always attracts a huge crowd and it's a beautiful city with the ocean and downtown area. In 2009, I started on the second row, so I hope this year we can do even better. I am sure with the good weekend we had at St. Petersburg a few weeks ago, we can translate some of those setup advances we made to this race, where the actual characteristics of the setups are similar. This weekend is definitely one I am looking forward to."
Vasser to be inducted into Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame:
The City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach will honor KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser by inducting him into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame. The ceremony will take place on Thursday, April 14, at 11:00 a.m. at the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on South Pine Avenue in front of the Convention Center. The public is invited. Vasser won the TLBGP in 1996 in route to the championship. He took another checker flag in Long Beach last year when he won the Pro category of the 2010 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Vasser’s last open-wheel start came at Long Beach on April 20, 2008.
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 showings 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 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 this weekend extending his streak as the active driver with the most consecutive starts (Scott Sharp holds the series record with 138 and KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser is the all-time leader with 211 consecutive starts).