KVRacing Technology – Lotus Driver Takuma Sato Finishes Eighth In Rain Postponed Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300
Sato Leads First Indycar Series Laps
SĀO PAULO, BRAZIL – May 2, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver Takuma Sato finished eighth today in the rain postponed and shortened Itaipava Sāo Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle on the challenging and bumpy 2.6-mile,11-turn Sāo Paulo, Brazil temporary street circuit. Teammates E. J. Viso and Tony Kanaan finished 13th and 22nd respectively.
I have never driven an IndyCar in wet conditions and never used the wet tire, I was immediately comfortable.
Heavy rain and water wreaked havoc with the cars and forced IndyCar officials to stop and then postpone yesterday’s scheduled contest after 14 laps. Today’s race, which was a timed event, a total of two hours between yesterday (40 minutes and 46 seconds) and today (one hour, 19 minutes and 14 seconds), was held under dark skies, but wet conditions.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, started a season high 10th, and despite having never driven an IndyCar in the rain, drove skillfully avoiding all the carnage during yesterday’s opening laps. When the race was halted he had advanced seven positions to third place where he started today. Five laps after the resumption of the race this morning Sato passed Ryan Briscoe for second place. Then on the restart following the second caution he overtook Will Power for the lead. Sato led the next 23 laps, the first of his IndyCar career, but late in the race it became obvious he would not get the final caution he needed to finish the race with the fuel he had. On lap 49 of the 55 lap contest he pitted for a splash of fuel dropping him back.
“We came to this race expecting to be competitive, but after practice and qualifying it was clear that we weren’t at the top level in dry conditions,” Sato said. “However, yesterday, even though I have never driven an IndyCar in wet conditions and never used the wet tire, I was immediately comfortable.”
Sato went on to say,“I really enjoyed the race. Every time we had a restart I was able to gain positions and overtaking the two Penske cars was very exciting. Once I got in the lead I was able to control the pace and was saving fuel massively. However, in the end our strategy did not work and in hindsight we should have pitted for fuel during the final caution because we were not in a position to take a gamble. It was a shame we did not make it, but I want to thank the entire team for all their hard work this weekend.”
Commenting on the race strategy KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, “Taku drove like a champion today. He earned the title as the new rain master. Unfortunately, the team made the wrong call. At the time we felt there was a high probability there would be at least one more yellow, which is all we needed to finish the race. However, at the end of the day we made the wrong call. However, Taku showed today that his first win is not far away.”
Sato, in his second IndyCar season, made his 21st IndyCar start and second in Sāo Paulo . Last year, he made his IZOD IndyCar debut here, but his race ended at the drop of the green flag with an incident that knocked him out of the race. Sato,who earned 24 points today and moved into 10th place in the standings with 80 points, opened the season with an IndyCar career high fifth place finish in St. Petersburg. In the next two events, Barber and Long Beach, on-track incidents negated extremely competitive performances where he looked to be a assured of at least a top-10 finish.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, started last (26th) after a mechanical failure caused a crash in Saturday afternoon’s practice and repairs could not be made in time for qualifying. Viso drove a smart but aggressive race avoiding all of yesterday’s trouble. He gained an incredible 15 positions yesterday and was in 11th place where he started today. Viso was on the move immediately this morning picking his way through the field until he was in second place. However, shortly thereafter IndyCar officials assessed him a drive through penalty for blocking which dropped him out of the top-10.
“I am very grateful to the team for all their hard work this weekend,” Viso said. “We had a mechanical problem on Saturday that put the car into the wall totaling it. Unfortunately, we could not get the spare car ready in time for qualifying so I had to start the race last. We made it all the way up to second place then I was given a drive through penalty for blocking. I do not agree with the decision the series made to penalize me. All I was doing was braking in the dry areas of the track. I never blocked, I was just doing what everyone else was doing. After that I started overtaking cars again, but at that point it was pretty late in the race.”
Viso, who is in his fourth IndyCar season, made his 54th career start and second in Sāo Paulo. Last year he started 17th and finished 12th in a hard fought race. The determined young Venezuelan has been plagued by bad luck during the early part of the 2011 season, but may have turned the corner today He is.currently 24th in the standings with 51 points.
Kanaan, who drove the No. 82 Itaipava – KV Racing Technology – Lotus here in Brazil, started 21st after a problem with his front wing and a penalty hampered his qualifying effort. On the first lap yesterday, Kanaan was hit causing severe damage to his car and injuring his left hand. As the crew made repairs, Kanaan was treated and medically cleared to resume racing, which he did in 26th place and nine laps down. Despite the handicap, Kanaan continued to battle in today’s race and scored 12 valuable championship points.
Unfortunately the weekend did not go our way,
"Today was kind of a different day. I woke up knowing that I was already nine laps down and that anything I could get on track would be a plus. Anyway, knowing that getting the laps back would be unrealistic, we used this race to log some laps and get to know the car better under these circumstances. Unfortunately the weekend did not go our way, but the promoters, IndyCar and the fans did a great job putting the show together."
Kanaan, who made his 136th consecutive IndyCar start, just two shy of the Series record, and second on his home soil (finished 10th in last year’s inaugural event). , Kanaan, who had to go job hunting for the first time in many years and signed with KVRT – Lotus just six days before the start of the season, has been impressive through the first part of the 2011 season. He has finished in the top-10 in three of the four races this year and is currently sixth in the championship race with 99 points.
Next up for KVRT - Lotus is the 2011 Indianapolis 500, May 14-29.