KV RACING TECHNOLOGY– LOTUS DRIVER TONY KANAAN QUALIFIES 10th
FOR TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH
VISO TO START 17TH, SATO 22ND
LONG BEACH, CA – APRIL 16, 2011 -- KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver Tony Kanaan qualified 10th for tomorrow’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the streets of Long Beach, California. Teammates E. J. Viso and Takuma Sato will start 17th and 22nd respectively.
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, the fastest of the three KVRT – Lotus drivers qualified with a lap of 69.7352 seconds (101.596 mph) on the challenging 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit and will start on the outside of row five. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology – Lotus was 17th recorded a lap of 70.1465 seconds (101.000 mph) and will lineup on the inside of row nine. Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, had an official time of 70.8196 (100.040) after his two fastest laps were taken away after he caused a yellow flag at the end of his session. He will grid on the outside of row 11. This is the third consecutive time that KVRT – Lotus has had a least one driver advance to the second round of road/street course qualifying.
Kanaan has reached the second round of road/street qualifying twice and qualified in the top-10 twice in the first three races of the 2011 season (started eighth in St. Petersburg). The talented Brazilian will be making his eighth start on the streets of Long Beach tomorrow, qualifying in the top-10 five times including capturing his first career pole in 1999. He has finished in the top-seven on four occasions in seven previous races with a best showing of third in 2009 (placed fifth twice, last year and in his TGPLB debut in 1998).
“It is a very tight field, so it was a very exciting qualifying,” Kanaan said. “We got held up on our fastest lap so that cost a tenth which would have put us in the top-eight. From tenth to eighth is really not a big deal. I am excited for the race. I think it is going to be a great race. It is also nice to see all the fans showing up as usually here in Long Beach. Let’s see what is going to happen tomorrow.
Kanaan is in his 14th season of U. S. based open-wheel racing and 10th in the IndyCar series. He will be making his 134th consecutive IndyCar start tomorrow, which extends his streak as the active driver with the most consecutive starts (Series record – Scott Sharp – 138, All–time leader – KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser – 211). In the first two races of the season, Kanaan has finished third at St. Petersburg and sixth at Barber Motorsports Park. The 2004 IndyCar Series Champion is currently third in the standings with 63 points just 31 out of first and 24 out of second.
Viso, in his fourth IndyCar season, will be making his 53rd career start and fourth in Long Beach tomorrow.
He will be looking to reverse a run of bad luck that has plagued him in the first two races of the season starting tomorrow. The young Venezuelan career best qualifying effort came here at Long Beach in 2009 when he started fourth and has a solid ninth place finish to his credit in three previous starts. Viso is currently 24th in the standings with 24 points, but is just 18 points out of 10th place.
Commenting on today’s qualifying effort Viso said, “I am frustrated about our qualifying session. I believe the team made good progress through the weekend so I expected to be in the top-12. I think the way we worked this weekend was the start of something positive. It is the first time we have worked this way as a team and I think it is the right way. Long Beach is always an unpredictable race. I believe we will have a good pace in the race. The key will be to stay on track, stay clean and the race will come to you.”
Today’s session was the first time this season that Sato has not advanced to the second round of road/street qualifying having started 11th at both St. Petersburg and Barber. Sato, who is in just his second IndyCar season, will be making his 20th start tomorrow and second in Long Beach.
It was a tough qualifying session...
“It was a tough qualifying session because we could not find the speed we needed,” Sato said. “The alternate tire upset the balance and I simply could not go fast enough. I am disappointed. The last race we improved the car in the warm up on race day, so tonight we will review all the data we collected today and work hard to improve the car for tomorrow’s race.”
In the first two races of the season, Taku, as he is known in native Japan, has earned an IndyCar career high fifth at St. Petersburg and placed 16th at Barber after a series of incidents denied him a top-10 finish. Sato is eighth in the championship standings with 44 points and just 10 points out of fifth.
In this morning’s first practice, Kanaan led the team with the seventh fastest lap recording a time of 70.7390 seconds (100.154 mph) putting seventh on the combined practice report. Sato was ninth on both the session and combined speed charts at 70.8919 seconds (99.936 mph), while Viso was 11th on both reports with a lap of 70.9617 seconds (99.840 mph). All three drivers turned their fastest practice laps during this morning’s practice.