KV RACING TECHNOLOGY – LOTUS DRIVER TAKUMA SATO
QUALIFIES 10th FOR ITAIPAVA SĀO PAULO INDY 300
KANAAN PENALIZED WILL START 21ST, VISO MISSES QUALIFYING WILL START 26TH
SĀO PAULO, BRAZIL – APRIL 30, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver Takuma Sato qualified 10th for tomorrow’s Itaipava Sāo Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle on the streets of Sāo Paulo, Brazil. Tony Kanaan, who was penalized, qualified 21st while E. J. Viso missed qualifying after a mechanical failure caused a crash that could not be repaired in time. He will start 26th.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, qualified with a lap of 82.7379 seconds (110.344 mph) on the challenging and bumpy 2.6-mile, 11-turn Sāo Paulo temporary street circuit and will start on the outside of row five. The 10th place starting position is his season high and is the third time in four tries that he has reached the second round of road/street course qualifying this season (started 11th at both St. Petersburg and Barber).
“It was not an easy day, but through both practice sessions we made steady progress,” Sato said. “I tried everything I could in qualifying and the team did put everything together, but we just lacked speed. So, tonight we need to review the data we collected today and work hard to find some more speed for the race. Under the circumstances, I am reasonably happy with the performance today and I feel we can have a strong race tomorrow.”
Sato made his IZOD IndyCar debut here last year, starting 10th but was knocked out of the race following an opening lap incident. He has started his second IndyCar season strong finishing an IndyCar career high fifth at the season opener in St. Petersburg. Then at Barber and Long Beach, on-track incidents negated extremely competitive performances where he looked to be a shoe-in for at least a top-10 finish. Sato is currently 13th in the standings with 56 points just eight points out of 10th place.
Kanaan, who is piloting the No. 82 Itaipava – KV Racing Technology – Lotus for his home race, originally qualified 15th with a lap of 83.684 seconds, but was penalized for an illegal wing change and assigned his fast time prior to the change, (84.2205 seconds.108.401 mph), dropping him to 21st on the grid. He will start on the inside of row 11.
“During our first outing the team noticed that according to our telemetry there was something wrong with the front wing of the car. I came in and the team swapped wings, but I ran out of time to get a good lap. After the qualifying was over we were informed that we got penalized because of the wing change. It will be a long day tomorrow, but this track is good for overtaking, so I’m confident that we’ll improve during the race.”
Kanaan will be making his second start on the streets of Sāo Paulo tomorrow. Last year, he qualified sixth and finished 10th. The talented Brazilian is third in the championship race with 87 points just 35 points behind series leader Dario Franchitti. He is one of four drivers to finish in the top-10 in each of the first three events of the 2011 season and has improved 25 positions (starting position to finishing position) in the three events. Kanaan will be making his 136th consecutive IndyCar start tomorrow putting him just two shy of the Series record.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, had a mechanical failure through no fault of his own during the second practice session that resulted in a crash. The car was damaged so severely that despite the valiant and best efforts of his crew, the car could not be repaired in time for qualifying. As a result, Viso will start last, 26th, in tomorrow’s race on the outside of row 13.
“Unfortunately, after going over the car the team found we had a mechanical failure that caused me to crash during the second practice session,” Viso said. “The car suffered a lot of damage and even though my crew, with help from some of the guys from the other two KVRT – Lotus crews, worked very hard we just didn’t have enough time to fix the car for qualifying. Obviously I am disappointed. We improved the car a lot during practice and I thought I had a chance for a good qualifying session. However, with this track and the way things have gone in the last three races anything is possible, so I am hoping for the best tomorrow.”
Regarding Viso’s incident KVRT – Lotus General Manager Mark Johnson said, “We are very disappointed that we had a mechanical failure today which ended up with E. J. crashing through no fault of his own. The team takes 100% responsibility for what happened today. We are all working hard to help E. J. overcome the bad luck that has hampered his performance at the start of this season, so today’s problem is even more frustrating.”
Viso, in his fourth IndyCar season, will be making his 54th career start and second in Sāo Paulo tomorrow. 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. He suffered a puncture at St. Petersburg, was hit by another competitor at Barber and at Long Beach, was having a strong race when he attempted a pass that resulted in contact. Viso is currently 25th in the standings with 34 points
Kanaan led the team in both practices today. He had the eighth fastest lap (85.6099 seconds, 106.642 mph) in the morning session (Viso was ninth at 85.7079 seconds, 106.520 mph, Sato, 13th, 85.8121 seconds,106.391 mph). In the afternoon practice Kanaan recorded a time of 84.5128 seconds (108.026 mph) placing him 10th, Sato was second on the team and 18th on the practice report, 64.8441 seconds, 107.604 mph. Viso had the mechanical failure in the afternoon and ran just five laps.
KVRT – Lotus road/street course qualifying: When Sato advanced to the second round of qualifying today in Sāo Paulo it was the fourth consecutive time that KVRT – Lotus has had a least one driver get to the second round of road/street course qualifying. Tony Kanaan has advanced to the second round twice (St. Petersburg, qualified eighth and Long Beach, qualified 10th. Sato has done it three times (St. Petersburg 11th, Barber Motorsports Park, 11th and here in Sāo Paulo, a season-high 10th).
Sato visits Brazilian school children: Early Friday, April 29, Takuma Sato visited a unit of the Unified Educational Centers (CEU) in Jaçanã, a neighborhood in the north of Sāo Paulo. Taku, who launched the “With you Japan” charity program to raise funds for children who are victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11, visited some classrooms and spoke with about 120 students, ages 13-15, in the amphitheater through a Japanese-Portuguese interpreter. After a brief video introduction, Sato explained about effects of the disaster in Japan then fielded questions from the students about the terrible events and about IndyCar racing. At the conclusion the, students recorded a videotaped message of support to Japanese children affected by natural disaster.
"I really enjoyed sending a message to the students. They were very interested, focused and energetic," Sato said. “It was also very emotional when they sang their welcome song.”