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Apr 30, 2013 - 06:19 PM
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2013 Brazil: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Apr 30, 2013 - 06:17 PM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2013 Brazil: Rahal Letterman Lanigan IndyCar Race Preview


NEWS & NOTES:

SECOND INDY CAR RACE FOR RLL IN SAO PAULO; SEVENTH IN BRAZIL
The Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Presented by Nestlé marks Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s second time to compete on the streets of São Paulo. In 2012, then-driver Takuma Sato was penalized 10-grid spots for an unapproved engine change prior to qualifying but was unable to make an attempt due to the engine change still being performed and ultimately started 25th of 26 cars. In the race he passed four cars at the start but was later given a drive-through penalty for exceeding the speed limit on his first of three stops. He capitalized on mistakes of others and good pit strategy to move to fifth late in the race. On the second to last restart he passed Franchitti and Castroneves for third and held the position for his best series finish to date. Previously the team competed in five CART-sanctioned events in Rio de Janeiro from 1996-2000 with Bobby Rahal (1996-1998), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-00), and Kenny Brack (2000). The team will field the No. 15 blu eCigs entry for Graham Rahal and the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts entry for James Jakes in Sao Paulo.

 

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GRAHAM RAHAL ON BOTH COMPETITIVE RUNS IN BRAZIL; BEST FINISH OF SECOND
The 2013 event will mark Rahal’s third Indy car race here. He earned his best start and finish here in 2011 when he qualified fifth and finished second for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing (SCCGR). In 2012, he qualified sixth but was forced to drive through the runoff area during the race to avoid the colliding cars in front of him, lost 9 positions and ultimately finished 16th for SCCGR.

“Two years ago, it rained like crazy but in the end we got a good result and finished second; it was a good day for us as a team. It was only our fourth race together at Ganassi so it was pretty nice. Last year we were pretty quick again but we got caught out on a restart when (Mike) Conway plowed into the back of Dario (Franchitti) and I knew I wasn’t going to make the corner because they were on the inside of me so I had to go through the runoff and dropped a lot of places and that ruined my day unfortunately. That’s the way it goes. It’s a tough place; the weather is always a factor there.”

JAMES ON TOP-10 RUNS THIS SEASON
In his two previous races on the streets of Sao Paulo, Jakes has two 15th place finishes. He qualified 18th in 2012 and qualified 24th in 2011 – both events with Dale Coyne Racing. In the first three races this season, Jakes has earned his series-best start at each track and has run in the top-12 but various challenges have prevented him from finishing as high as he and the team have shown they are capable of. He is looking to turn that around in Sao Paulo, a track layout that has suited his driving style in the past.

“Generally we have been pretty good this year. I think we have had a top-10 car in all three events so far and I think that if we had converted everything to the finish we were capable of, we would be solidly in the top-10 of the standings now which would have given us a solid platform for the year. Unfortunately things haven’t gone that way which is disappointing but I’m sure we can bounce back this year. I have always been quite strong in Brazil. The first year was difficult learning the track. Actually last year we should have been in the top-10 in qualifying but I made a mistake, clipped the wall and bent the car. I have always been fairly confident there; the track has suited my driving so I can’t wait to get back there in the No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts car. We have been competitive on tracks this year that haven’t always been my strongest, if you look at previous years, so this year I am really looking forward to going down there. I think that what we learned at St. Pete and Long Beach should definitely help us to a point this weekend.”

GRAHAM AND JAMES ON THE CHALLENGES OF THE SAO PAULO COURSE
“It’s tough because in areas it’s particularly bumpy, especially into Turn 1,” said Rahal. “There are a lot of high-speed, flowing corners. Even the 90-degree corners are relatively quick. The biggest thing is that with the back straight being as long as it is, it makes it really, really tricky to stay ahead. You get someone behind you that has Push to Pass -- which we didn’t have last year -- and I think it will make quite a difference this year so it should increase the passing even more.”

“You need to make sure that you have good top speed but also good braking stability in Sao Paulo,” added Jakes. “To balance the outcome can be pretty difficult but also the weather the last two years has been very unpredictable. The forecast looks a lot better right now but I guess you never know there.”

GRAHAM ON THE DESIRED RESULT THAT FINALLY CAME AT LONG BEACH
After challenging races in St. Petersburg and at Barber Motorsports Park, Graham was able to charge through the field in Long Beach from an 11th place start to earn his highest finish of second place since June 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway. The finish vaulted him from 19th to seventh in the series point standings with a total of 66 points. He attributes that result to consistent hard work.

“I think everything just came together in Long Beach. We have been working awfully hard but we weren’t seeing the fruits of our labor and everything just kind of meshed that weekend. And that’s the way we need it to be all the time. I was certainly proud of the effort that was put it and I think we need to keep up down that path the rest of the year.”

GRAHAM AND JAMES ON THE EXTRA CHALLENGES OF A TWO-DAY STREET EVENT
“A two-day event puts even more pressure on teams to unload (a) quick (car),” said Rahal. “If you’re off the pace from the start I think you’re going to be in trouble. But it’s another street course so I anticipate that a lot of the teams have probably found a pretty good street course setup by now. Like every weekend so far, it’s going to be awfully competitive and tough to have any sort of advantage but I do feel good about our current state going there. I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the blu eCigs car and picking up where we left off in Long Beach.”

“To me, it doesn’t really change much,” added Jakes. “It just means that you have to roll out of the garage quite strong because there isn’t much time to work on the cars,” added Jakes. “It puts a little more pressure on the drivers and engineers to make sure to make the right decisions before qualifying.”

GRAHAM ON WHAT IT’S GOING TO TAKE TO GET A WIN IN BRAZIL AND ELSEWHERE
“The Sao Paulo course is a place where you can pass but I think we need to start up front. If we can start up front, I think we can win these things; I just know it. If we can come from the back like we have and finish in the top-two in the case of Long Beach, there is no reason that if we start up front, we can’t move up those few spots.”

JAMES ON THE PASSING OPPORTUNITIES AT BRAZIL

“There are quite a few passing areas on the Sao Paulo course -- the first corner, after the chicane, the long straight there and then the back straight into the last corner – which always makes for some exciting racing. You get a big tow off the car in front of you on the long back straight. It is quite a high speed, probably the longest straight of the season top-speed wise on a street course. That’s always fun. That is one of the better passing zones because you get a tow from the car in front of you.”

JAMES ON HIS EARLY ARRIVAL TO BRAZIL
“I am going a day early to see a few things while I am there,” said Jakes who arrives to Brazil on Wednesday morning. “I am going to spend a couple of days with some good friends and play some golf before I head to the track.”

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