KV RACING TECHNOLOGY– LOTUS QUALIFIES 11th, 18th AND 24th FOR HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA
LEEDS, AL – APRIL 9, 2011 -- KV Racing Technology – Lotus drivers Takuma Sato, E. J. Viso and Tony Kanaan qualified 11th, 18th and 24th respectively for tomorrow’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, qualified with a lap of 72.1667 seconds (114.734 mph) on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber permanent road circuit and will start on the inside of row six. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, recorded a lap of 72.6582 seconds (113.958 mph) and will grid on the outside of row nine. Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus posted a fast qualifying lap of 72.8892 seconds (113.597 mph) and will line up on the outside of row 12.
Sato has now advanced to round two of road/street course qualifying twice in two attempts this season, qualifying 11th both times. The Japanese star, who is in his second IZOD IndyCar season, is coming off the best showing of his 18-race IndyCar career, a fifth at the series opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Sato will be making his second start here at Barber tomorrow. Last year, he qualified sixth, but unfortunately suffered a mechanical problem and finished 25th.
“It was a disappointing qualifying,” Sato said. “We tried to improve the car and indeed we were improving, but looking at the field we didn’t have enough speed. It is a real shame we could not achieve what we wanted. I tried everything I could, but we struggled a lot. We are going to have to work really hard to get everything together for the race tomorrow.”
Viso, contesting his fourth IndyCar season, second with KVRT - Lotus and first in the Lotus livery, is also making his second appearance at Barber. Last year, he started 10th and finished 16th.
Commenting on his weekend so far, the determined young Venezuelan said, “It’s been a tough couple of days for the team, but we have lots of faith that we will have a good race tomorrow. The crew, once again, did a great job preparing the car for the qualifying, but we needed another 1.9 tenths of a second to make it into the second round of qualifying. This is a challenging track with a mix of fast and slow corners and a lot of quick changes in direction so finding the right setup is a compromise. You have to give up some speed in some places to gain it in others.”
I tried everything I could, but we struggled a lot.
Kanaan, who is contesting his 14th season of major U. S. based open–wheel competition and 10th in the IndyCar Series, will be making his 133rd consecutive IndyCar start tomorrow, 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). The talented Brazilian and 2004 IndyCar Series Champion, is coming off a third place finish in the season opener at St. Petersburg. He will be competing at Barber for the second time having started and finished eighth here last year in the inaugural race.
“Obviously I am extremely disappointed with the way qualifying went today,” Kanaan said. “However, we reviewed the data and identified a problem which really affected my run. It is something we can fix so everything should be good for tomorrow. We are going to have our work cut out for us starting 24th on this track, but it is a long race and anything can happen.”
In this morning’s practice, which was really a 20-minute warm-up, Kanaan logged the team’s fastest lap with a time of 72.8840 seconds (113.605 mph) putting him 11th on both the session and combined practice reports. Sato was 13th fastest with a lap of 73.0193seconds (113.395 mph), which also put him 13th on the combined report. Viso was 25th in the session at 73.7431seconds (112.282 mph) and 25th on the combined. All three drivers turned their fastest practice laps during this morning’s practice.