Bobby Rahal says he sees no reason to expand to two full-time entries following son Graham's performances this past season
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will remain a one-car team next season, according to team co-owner Bobby Rahal, although a second car will be added for the Indianapolis 500.
Rahal's son Graham finished fourth in the championship for RLLR this past season, best of the Honda-powered cars, and beaten only by one Ganassi entry and two Penskes.
The three-time Indy car champion told Motorsport.com, “Obviously there’s a down side to it for the team – you have only one shot, and if something happens, then you’re done for the day. But for the driver, with all the attention on him, I think it’s a major positive.”
Graham Rahal scored two wins in 2015 after two seasons in the relative doldrums, and he went into the final two races second in the championship. However, being spun by Tristan Vautier at Pocono and struggling with setup at Sonoma (combined with a hefty punt by Sebastien Bourdais) saw the No. 15 Steak ’n’ Shake entry slip to fourth in the final standings.
“It was frustrating,” conceded Bobby, “although if you’d offered us fourth at the start of the season, I’d have taken it like a shot. Numerically, the odds are so stacked against you, so I think we can be proud anyway.
“Would we have been stronger with two cars? I think that’s open to question. I think a two-car team, if the drivers want different things from their cars in terms of handling, is more like running two one-car teams. So I’m not interested in running a second car just for the sake of it. We’ve seen in the recent past that can cause more problems than it solves."
Expanding for the Indy 500
Oriol Servia, who first ran for RLLR in the Indianapolis 500 in 2009 and later that year partnered Graham Rahal at Newman/Haas Racing, remains a firm favorite with Rahal father and son and Bobby says the Catalan veteran brought a lot to the program at the Brickyard last May.
“At Indy, I think there are great benefits to running two cars," said the 1986 "500" winner, "because one driver can be running qualifying simulations as the other one is trying race setups. There’s plenty of time to do that kind of thing, and I think Oriol being on our team this year for Indy was a big help: he’s very strong on ovals – strong everywhere, actually – technically smart, good with feedback, gets on well with Graham, and so on.
"If a top quality driver like that became available and we had $5million to assemble a second team for a full season, then I’d be interested.
“But given the hurdles we overcame this year, receiving the aero kits at the last minute and having to learn them fast with only one set of data, I’d say there’s no reason we can’t be even stronger next season continuing with just one car, and two at Indy.”