Five podiums and one pole for RLL Racing over the years they have challenged the street circuit in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Their two drivers would like to add to that tally.
The 2013 Honda Indy Toronto will mark the 14th Indy car event for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place and second since 2003. The team also competed in the Atlantic Series races here in 2003 and 2004. The team’s highest finish is second, four times (Rahal 1992, 1994, 1995; Michel Jourdain Jr. 2003) and best start was pole in 1992 by Bobby Rahal. Prior to the 2013 event, the team prepared a total of 22 Indy car entries for drivers Bobby Rahal (1992-98), Mike Groff (1994), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Jimmy Vasser (2002), Michel Jourdain Jr. (2002-03) and Takuma Sato (2012). The team also prepared three Toyota Atlantic entries (Danica Patrick 2003-2004; Chris Festa 2004). The team has earned FIVE podiums (3rd – Rahal 1996), 9 top-five’s and 17 top-10 finishes at the track. The No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry for James Jakes will bring the Indy car total to 24 entries in 2013.
Team co-owner Bobby Rahal competed in Toronto from 1986-1991 as a driver and from 1992-1998 as a team owner/driver. He earned one win (1986), two poles (1987, 1992), and seven podium finishes in 13 races here. He also started on the front row three times, earned 10 top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in those 13 races. He always looks forward to returning to one of the premiere races on the schedule.
“From the first year it was held, Toronto has always been a great race,” said Rahal. “I think the biggest thing is that the Canadians truly understand and appreciate road racing so from our first time there it was always a very popular event and just got huge over the years. I love going to Canada to race; I spent most of my early career racing in Canada so in some respects it’s a little bit like going home. I’m always excited to go there. I think the Toronto event is equal or similar to Long Beach. It’s certainly one of the premiere races that the series has.”
GRAHAM AND JAMES ON THE RETURN TO STREET COURSE RACING
The past four events were held on oval tracks and both drivers are looking forward to returning to a street course. “I'm excited as it has been a bit of a struggle lately,” said Rahal. “We're all excited to get back on the street courses and see how it goes.”
“I’m very confident about heading into Toronto,” added Jakes. “We were very competitive in Detroit so I don't see a reason why we can’t be this weekend. With two races it should be a great opportunity to get some great points.”
GRAHAM RAHAL ON HIS PAST SUCCESS AT TORONTO
The 2013 Honda Indy Toronto will mark Graham Rahal’s sixth Indy car race here and seventh overall. He started from pole in the 2006 Atlantic race but was hit by Raphael Matos on the first lap. The team repaired the damaged suspension and he returned to the track a few laps down, set the fastest race lap but later retired in 15th place. He started 15th in the 2007 Champ Car race as a rookie for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) but an evasive move to avoid a pile up on Lap 1 led to him hitting the wall and a subsequent stop for a new front wing. He had to pit again for another front wing later in the race after running as high as second. He retired in 11th place after he made contact for the third time due to a broken steering rack. A race was not held in Toronto in 2008 but the IndyCar Series returned in 2009 and he started third but was hit by second place starter Will Power, who squeezed him to the wall on the opening lap before Turn 1. A forced stop to replace his front wing dropped him to the back but he charged through the field into seventh place. He held his position behind Danica Patrick but flat-spotted his tires which led to losing three positions before his next stop. He tried to pass the lapped car of Ed Carpenter on the inside on a right-handed turn but the contact ended his race in 20th place after 57/85 laps. In 2010, he started 14th with Newman/Haas Racing and earned his best finish since his 2008 win in St. Pete of fifth place. He competed for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011-2012. In 2011 he qualified fifth, led 23 laps and finished 13th. In 2012, he qualified 12th, started 10th after penalties were served to two competitors ahead on the grid and was sixth when contact in Turn 1 forced him to retire from the race in 23rd. Rahal is looking forward to his return to Toronto and the opportunity to earn his best result here to date.
“Last year I had a struggle with braking and finally made a mistake that took me out of the race. Years before, I have felt very competitive and had a chance to win in Toronto before. I will be fighting hard to make it happen this year.”
THIRD TIME IS THE CHARM FOR JAKES IN TORONTO?
The 2013 Honda Indy Toronto will be James Jakes’ third event here and first with RLL. Prior to earning his best series start and finish of second at the previous double-header races on the streets of Detroit (June 2) this season, Toronto was the site of his best series finish of eighth in 2012. He qualified 19th here in 2012, started 24th due to a penalty for an unapproved engine change and moved through the field to earn his best finish at the time of eighth place. In 2011, he qualified 23rd and finished 18th. Both events were with Dale Coyne Racing.
“Last year we were able to finish eighth from the back of the grid due to an engine change. We were up there on the fastest race lap chart which was nice and should put us in a good position for this weekend. Usually there is always quite a lot of contact so it’s important to try and stay clear of that.”
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE CHALLENGES OF DOUBLE-HEADERS AND THE UPCOMING TORONTO RACES
“It is very physical for everyone doing two full races, but I felt good about going there (Detroit),” said Rahal. “I thought it was ok, but physically I feel I'm pretty strong. I think mentally it is tough, but again I am looking forward to the challenges ahead. Toronto shouldn't be as physical as Detroit because Detroit is extremely busy and bumpy. We need to continue to work forward and improve as a team, and we should have a good opportunity to do so this weekend. The extra race is track time and the more you get the more you learn.”
“It is a very tough weekend mentally and physically especially if you’re up front and are pushing to the extreme,” added Jakes. “If you have good speed during the event it can be very positive for you, but if you are struggling a little bit with the balance of the car it can be very tough. With two races you really have to make sure that you maximize the potential in both races because it is a huge chunk of points for a weekend. For sure you gain information in Race 1 that helps you for Race 2. The track generally grips up during the race weekend and that can change the balance quite a bit. So if the conditions stay the same throughout the weekend this really helps.”
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE TORONTO COURSE
“It's bumpy, very busy, and I think it will be ultra competitive,” said Rahal. “I think as a team with our recent developments we should see an improved performance on the street courses, and we have shown to be quick at other spots this year. I am definitely looking forward to it.”
“Toronto is very much like a combination of Detroit and Long Beach,” said Jakes. “I would say the ride is pretty similar to Long Beach with regards to bumps. Detroit has a lot more bumps but it has concrete patches like Toronto and it’s pretty difficult to set the car up over those parts of the track. I’m very much looking forward to Toronto. It’s always a fun event and I believe we should be very competitive there. ”
RAHAL AND JAKES ON THE STANDING START
The IZOD IndyCar Series will conduct a standing start for the first time in the first race of the Two in T.O. doubleheader. The last time an Indy car race had a standing start was at the final race for Champ Car at Long Beach in 2008 when Will Power swept around the first three cars to take the lead. While previous Champ Car regulars competed in Long Beach, the IndyCar Series (then Indy Racing League) held a race in Motegi, Japan that same weekend therefore some drivers have more recent experience with the process than others. Rahal participated in the Long Beach event for NHLR in 2008 and Jakes made a standing start as recent as 2010.
“My last standing start was in the final Champ Car race in Long Beach (2008),” said Rahal. “I think it will be ok. It's a challenge in these cars with the turbos (engines) and all, but I think it will be okay. I am a fan of the traditional rolling start, but I guess were looking to spice it up a bit.”
“I cannot wait for the standing starts,” added Jakes. “Its something I believe we should be doing on every street and road course. My last standing start was in Monza in 2010.”
JAKES ON ONE OF HIS FAVORITE RACE MARKETS
Jakes, who was born in Leeds, England, splits his time between his U.S. base of Orlando, Fla. and Toronto, Ontario, Canada and calls Toronto one of his favorite race markets.
“Toronto is a great place,” said Jakes, who arrived to Toronto on Sunday night after Pocono. “It has so many different nationalities and there always seems to be something to do. There are some great golf course to play, and lots of fun restaurants and bars to hang out in.”
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