KV RACING TECHNOLOGY-- LOTUS DRIVER TONY KANAAN HAS SPECTACULAR PERFORMANCE IN HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA
Kanaan Improves 18 Positions To Finish Sixth
KV Racing Technology -- Lotus driver Tony Kanaan was the story of the race following a spectacular performance today in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama.
Kanaan, behind the wheel of the No. 82 GEICO -- KV Racing Technology -- Lotus improved 18 positions to finish sixth in a hard fought race on the picturesque and challenging 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber permanent road course. Teammate Takuma Sato was also impressive however a couple of on-track incidents and a refueling problem dropped him to 16th. Meanwhile, E. J. Viso, the third KVRT -- Lotus entry, was also the victim of an on-track situation and finished 23rd.
TK car Kanaan started the race 24th on the gird, but gained 10 positions on the first lap. From that point a combination of incredible driving, a solid race strategy designed by KVRT-Lotus General Manager Mark Johnson and outstanding pit work by the GEICO -- KVRT -- Lotus crew combined to produce what a few days ago seemed an improbable result.
"I want to thank the whole GEICO -- KV Racing Technology -- Lotus team," Kanaan said. "What a great job...great pit stops. I also want to thank Takuma. He helped me out a lot with his setup. It is great to have someone who really cares and respects you. Thanks to him and his engineer we were able to turn the situation around and we ended up pretty strong. So, I am very pleased. We are just building it up here, and we are eventually going to get it."
Kanaan earned 28 points today and combined with the 35 he picked up with his third place performance in the season opener at St. Petersburg now has a total of 63 placing him third in the championship race. The talented Brazilian and 2004 IndyCar Series Champion, who made his 133rd consecutive IndyCar start today, the longest streak of any active driver (Scott Sharp holds the series record with 138 and KVRT -- Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser is the all-time leader with 211 consecutive starts), has now finished sixth and eighth in the two IndyCar races and Barber.
It was a frustrating and disappointing race. For sure it was also exciting at one point.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, was the fastest of the KVRT -- Lotus drivers all weekend and seemed a sure bet for a top-10 finish. The Japanese star and Formula 1 veteran, who is always competitive on permanent road courses, qualified a team-high 11th. He quickly moved into ninth and hovered around the top-10 for much of the race getting as high as seventh. However, while fighting for position, Sato had two incidents, the second of which forced him to the pits for a new front wing. In the latter stages of the contest a refueling situation once again brought him to pit lane. Despite the setbacks, Sato continued to battle throughout the race and was rewarded with valuable championship points.
Commenting on the race Sato said, "It was a frustrating and disappointing race. For sure it was also exciting at one point. I overtook some cars on the track and gained some positions on the restart, so we were looking strong at one stage. Unfortunately, I had a couple of incidents which damaged my car and forced me to come back to the pits, also at the end of the race we had an issue with the refueling on a pit stop and I had to come back to the pits again. In the end everything did not work out as we planned, but there were some positive things today, which hopefully we can carry over to next week.
Sato, who is in his second IndyCar season, contested just his 19 IndyCar race. He scored 14 points today and now has 44 following a fifth place finish at St. Petersburg, placing him eighth in the championship standings.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, started 18th and was steadily moving through the field. On lap 40, he was running in 11th place when he was hit by another competitor, spun and hit again ending his day.
"To be honest it's been a very tough start to the season," commented Viso. "It's amazing, the potential we have as a team, but unfortunately our luck has not been the best. Today, the race started well. The car setup was very complete and we were working on a fuel mileage strategy, which we were able to achieve without any issues. I was able to gain some places on the restarts and make a few passes on track. However, in corner five I got hit from behind and spun round. James Hinchcliffe had nowhere to go and caught the rear of my car when I had stopped, which ended my race. I know that good races are coming hopefully starting next weekend at Long Beach.
Viso, contesting his fourth IndyCar season, second with KVRT - Lotus and first in the Lotus livery, has 24 points after the first two races of the season and is 24th in the standings.
Next up for KVRT - Lotus is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 15-17, on the streets of Long Beach, California. The race will be broadcast live on Versus beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.