IRL: Motegi: Team Rahal preview

Brack seeks 2nd Motegi win this week in Japan; 2001 winner wants to put Honda in victory lane. Team Rahal's Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda could be the car to watch Sunday. MOTEGI, JAPAN (April 8, 2003)--. Kenny Brack has been waiting to return to...

Brack seeks 2nd Motegi win this week in Japan; 2001 winner wants to put Honda in victory lane.
Team Rahal's Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda could be the car to watch Sunday.

MOTEGI, JAPAN (April 8, 2003)--. Kenny Brack has been waiting to return to Twin Ring Motegi for some time now.

The fast 1.5-mile oval looks like it was built for Brack's hard-charging, aggressive driving style. He proved that in his first two appearances on the Japan oval back in 2000 and 2001.

Driving for Team Rahal on Champ Car circuit, Brack was the fastest driver when he rolled into Motegi as a rookie in 2000. Consistently the fastest in every practice session, only a blown engine on his qualifying run kept him from the pole. He quickly jumped in his backup car (without any practice) and still made the front row. He finished fifth in his maiden run that year.

It was in 2001 when Brack dominated the Motegi race and scored his first Champ Car win.

Now he comes back with Team Rahal again to challenge the tough IRL IndyCar Series field in his Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda Dallara machine in the IndyCar Series debut at Twin Ring Motegi.

"The Twin Ring Motegi track has a special place in my heart," said Brack, who'll drive in the Japan Indy 300 at Motegi. "It was the site of my first win with Team Rahal back in 2001 (in CART). That race really got us on a roll that year. We went on to win the next race in Milwaukee too. That place is fast, very fast."

Brack wants to get back to that coveted Motegi winner's circle for several reasons. But probably the most important would be for Honda, the auto manufacturer who built the spectacular racing complex and has yet to win at Motegi.

"The Twin Ring track is a great tribute to Honda as Motegi is one of the finest racing facilities in the world," says Brack, the 1998 IRL IndyCar Series champion. "It has a great oval, a super road course, a world-class karting track, a dirt oval and the auto museum is spectacular. I can see why the Japanese racing fans are so proud of the complex. Motegi has two different corners. Turns one and two are really one big fast corner with banking. Turns three and four are less banked and a little tricky. Overall, the surface is so smooth and fast."

With the high level of competition in this year's IndyCar Series, Brack expects quite a shootout Sunday in the Japan Indy 300.

"I think the Indy cars will be great for the fans to see," said Brack, currently seventh in the 2003 IRL IndyCar Series points. "We can run pretty close and the racing should be tremendous. Needless to say, I would like to be the first Honda driver to win at Motegi but it won't be easy. With the IRL IndyCar Series competition, the race should be pretty wild."

The popular Swede has developed a large following in Japan including fans with their faces painted in colors of the Swedish flag.

"I don't know what it is but the fans are so friendly and polite," said Brack. "They have a lot of enthusiasm towards our racing and racing in general. I was surprised to see how many people follow our racing in Japan. And they want autographs, souvenirs and photos. It is great to see when we race at Motegi."

Brack's return to Japan comes off a Top Five finish in the most recent IndyCar Series race in Phoenix on March 23. And he admits that Team Rahal is still learning about the Dallara chassis and the Honda engine.

BRACK EXPECTS PLENTY OF CONTENDERS IN 2003: Kenny Brack has been one of the We atop oval track drivers for the past six years in open-wheel racing. The Swede"I think we were behind the IndyCar Series regulars from last year a little at the start," Brack said.

"We had to learn a lot about the chassis and I know we are still learning. I believe the Honda believes his strong performances will continue in 2003 but the competition will be engine is right there on horsepower. It is strong. Being a single car team we don't have as much tougher than ever.

"I knew that having Honda and Toyota join the IRL would really jump information as say Andretti Green has right now. They have input from three drivers and that can up the level of competition," said Brack.

"Now the strong teams and manufacturers like speed up the learning curve a lot. But I know we have the engineers and the team to make us a top Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet, you can have at least 15 drivers that have a good chance contender. It took some time for all of us to come together back in 2000. We are working very hard to win. There were strong teams in the IRL already and now you have Penske, Andretti, to get all of the ingredients put together.

"Nunn, Rahal and others and the level is better than ever. We are still learning about this new Dallara chassis and the Honda engine. I think our effort will get stronger as we Brack's return to the IndyCar Series in 2003 marks the Swede's seventh season in U.S. Open- wheel racing, having competed in Indy cars from 1997-1999 (recording four wins including the 1999learn more and more about this new combination. But we want to be up to speed Indy 500) and in Champ cars from 2000-2002 (collecting five victories including four with Team quickly since this IRL series is so competitive. The cars are different from when I raced Rahal in 2001).in the IRL in 1997 to 1999. But I think we are gaining more and more information as we get ready for the season opener in Homestead (Fla. On March 2)."

TEAM RAHAL NOTES--. In the first Twin Ring Motegi race in 1998, team owner Bobby Rahal record a first in his open-wheel driving career -- he ended upside-down. Rahal, running a strong third with just 15 laps remaining, had a right front suspension bearing exploded on his Miller Lite.

TEAM RAHAL NEW TO THE IRL: Team Rahal owners Bobby Rahal and David machine. The mechanical failure forced the car into the turn two wall and flipped Rahal and his Letterman make their first full-season assault on the IRL IndyCar Series after eleven machine down the back straightaway. Bobby was only bruised in the mishap. It was Rahal's last year on the CART Champ Car Series. In those seasons, Team Rahal collected 14 as a driver--. Rahal's organization has a busy plate in front of it in 2003 as the Hilliard, Ohio-based wins, 18 poles and 55 podium finishes in CART.

Last year, Team Rahal made his initial racing operation will have three teams on three separate racing circuits in 2003. In addition to Brack effort in the IRL with Jimmy Vasser driving at Fontana and Indianapolis in the Miller Lite driving the Pioneer/Miller Lite Honda in the IRL, Team Rahal will field a car in the Champ Car World Chevy Dallara. Brack also drove at Indy last year with the Ganassi team. "We had a Series with Michel Jourdain Jr. driving the Gigante Ford Lola and in the Toyota Atlantic pretty quick learning curve with the IRL chassis and engine last year," said Rahal, the Championship with female driver Danica Patrick piloting the Argent Mortgage Toyota Swift--three-time CART champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner.

"But it was a very good, Rahal's son Graham enjoyed a great experience in Italy during his "Spring Break" from school this experience for our organization. Working with the IRL officials was good for us and they past week as the current karting racer was able to test his CRG kart in Northern Italy as part of the run a very professional series. So we had a place to start when we came in for our full- Rahal's Italy vacation. The younger Rahal will be competing in the Champ Car "Stars of Tomorrow"time effort with Honda, Pioneer and Miller Lite. Of course, bringing back Kenny to our karting series this year including the Eastern Division season opener at the new BeaveRun track in team was a big bonus. Kenny was very impressive with us in 2000 and 2001. We think western Pennsylvania on May 2-4.he can rekindle that magic again in 2003."

-tr-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Bobby Rahal , Kenny Brack , Danica Patrick , Michel Jourdain