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KV RACING TECHNOLOGY– LOTUS LOOKING TO BUILD ON STRONG START
BIRMINGHAM, AL – APRIL 5, 2011 -- KV Racing Technology – Lotus will be looking to continue its strong start to the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season this weekend at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy, April 8-10, at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
KVRT – Lotus produced two top five finishes in the season opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with Tony Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, placing third and Takuma Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, finishing fifth. E. J. Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, suffered a puncture to a tire during the race, but never-the-less battled to the end finishing 19th. This was the first time that KV Racing Technology – Lotus placed two cars in the top-five in an IndyCar Series event.
Kanaan’s result in St. Petersburg is even more remarkable considering both he and his crew joined the team just six days before the race. The 36-year-old native of Brazil and 2004 IndyCar Series Champion, is entering his 14th season of major U. S. based open–wheel competition and 10th in the IndyCar Series. The podium finish in St. Pete was his 50th in 133 IndyCar starts. A perennial championship contender, Kanaan will be making his second start on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber permanent road circuit. Last year, he started eighth and finished eighth.
“Obviously, I missed the off-season testing at Barber, but the team had a strong test with Taku and E. J. so I think we’re going to be good,” Kanaan said. “Barber Motorsports Park is a very nice and beautiful facility where the fans show up in massive numbers, which is great for our series. It’s a very difficult track to pass, but I’m hoping to have a weekend as good as I had in St. Petersburg.”
Sato is coming off the best finish of his 18-race IndyCar career (fifth in St. Pete). The 34-year-old Formula 1 veteran is always extremely competitive on permanent road circuits. Last year, he made the Firestone Fast Six, the final round of road/street course qualifying, three times all on permanent road circuits including qualifying sixth at Barber (fifth at Watkins Glen and season high third at Mid-Ohio).
“I am really looking forward to going back to Barber,” Sato said. “The circuit is really challenging and a beautiful setup with flowing corners.
Last year, unfortunately I had a mechanical problem in the early part of the race, but my pace was looking promising so I expect we can repeat that again and have a strong race. Although we found a lot of work to be done after the pre-season open test, it was still a great session to understand many things and now having a good result at the opening race, I believe we can carry forward some good momentum. It is quite exciting.”
Viso, 25, in his fourth IndyCar season, also competed at Barber last year starting 10th and finishing 16th. Although this is just the second race at Barber, the talented and determined Venezuelan has tested here three times in the last two years.
“We raced at Barber for the first time last year, so it is not totally new,” Viso said. “The KVRT-Lotus team has also done some miles on it twice this year for testing and I felt we made good progress, which hopefully we will see this weekend. It is a tough track to overtake on, so qualifying will play a big and important part for the race.
I had a tough weekend at St. Petersburg two weeks ago, but the overall team had a good start. I feel proud to be a part of this team and I think all the hard work we put in over the winter, showed on track.”
Lotus Director of Motorsport Claudio Berro said, “We were delighted at the result in St. Petersburg. To have two cars in the top five at the first race has given KVRT – Lotus an excellent start to the Championship. I stated before St. Petersburg that I believed the ingredients were in place to enable us to progress and this result was the product of a great team effort. However, the season is a long one and we will not rest on our laurels. Undoubtedly this result has given us even more confidence, but we still have a lot of work to do to fulfill our ambition to become one of the top three teams in the series. It was a stunning debut by Tony Kanaan in Lotus colors, but no surprise as he has a great pedigree and a lot of experience. We are delighted that all the hard work put in by Taku in his debut season last year yielded a great result in St. Petersburg. I know he has what it takes to succeed and build upon that result. It was a disappointing race for E.J., but he is a strong character with a desire to succeed and I am sure we will see that over the course of the year.”For more information about KV Racing Technology visit: www.kvracingtechnology.com or follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kvracingand Facebook: www.facebook.com/kvracingtechnology
Photo By Dan Peters
KV RACING TECHNOLOGY– LOTUS DRIVER TONY KANAAN HAS SPECTACULAR PERFORMANCE IN HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA
KANAAN IMPROVES 18 POSITIONS TO FINISH SIXTH
LEEDS, AL – APRIL 10, 2011 -- KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver Tony Kanaan was the story of the race following a spectacular performance today in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama.
Kanaan, behind the wheel of the No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus improved 18 positions to finish sixth in a hard fought race on the picturesque and challenging 2.38-mile, 17-turn Barber permanent road course. Teammate Takuma Sato was also impressive however a couple of on-track incidents and a refueling problem dropped him to 16th. Meanwhile, E. J. Viso, the third KVRT – Lotus entry, was also the victim of an on-track situation and finished 23rd.
Kanaan started the race 24th on the gird, but gained 10 positions on the first lap. From that point a combination of incredible driving, a solid race strategy designed by KVRT-Lotus General Manager Mark Johnson and outstanding pit work by the GEICO – KVRT – Lotus crew combined to produce what a few days ago seemed an improbable result.
“I want to thank the whole GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus team,” Kanaan said. “What a great job…great pit stops. I also want to thank Takuma. He helped me out a lot with his setup. It is great to have someone who really cares and respects you. Thanks to him and his engineer we were able to turn the situation around and we ended up pretty strong. So, I am very pleased. We are just building it up here, and we are eventually going to get it.”
Kanaan earned 28 points today and combined with the 35 he picked up with his third place performance in the season opener at St. Petersburg now has a total of 63 placing him third in the championship race. The talented Brazilian and 2004 IndyCar Series Champion, who made his 133rd consecutive IndyCar start today, 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), has now finished sixth and eighth in the two IndyCar races and Barber.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology - Lotus, was the fastest of the KVRT – Lotus drivers all weekend and seemed a sure bet for a top-10 finish. The Japanese star and Formula 1 veteran, who is always competitive on permanent road courses, qualified a team-high 11th. He quickly moved into ninth and hovered around the top-10 for much of the race getting as high as seventh. However, while fighting for position, Sato had two incidents, the second of which forced him to the pits for a new front wing. In the latter stages of the contest a refueling situation once again brought him to pit lane. Despite the setbacks, Sato continued to battle throughout the race and was rewarded with valuable championship points.
Commenting on the race Sato said, “It was a frustrating and disappointing race. For sure it was also exciting at one point. I overtook some cars on the track and gained some positions on the restart, so we were looking strong at one stage. Unfortunately, I had a couple of incidents which damaged my car and forced me to come back to the pits, also at the end of the race we had an issue with the refueling on a pit stop and I had to come back to the pits again. In the end everything did not work out as we planned, but there were some positive things today, which hopefully we can carry over to next week.
Sato, who is in his second IndyCar season, contested just his 19 IndyCar race. He scored 14 points today and now has 44 following a fifth place finish at St. Petersburg, placing him eighth in the championship standings.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology - Lotus, started 18th and was steadily moving through the field. On lap 40, he was running in 11th place when he was hit by another competitor, spun and hit again ending his day.
“To be honest it’s been a very tough start to the season,” commented Viso. “It’s amazing, the potential we have as a team, but unfortunately our luck has not been the best. Today, the race started well. The car setup was very complete and we were working on a fuel mileage strategy, which we were able to achieve without any issues. I was able to gain some places on the restarts and make a few passes on track. However, in corner five I got hit from behind and spun round. James Hinchcliffe had nowhere to go and caught the rear of my car when I had stopped, which ended my race. I know that good races are coming hopefully starting next weekend at Long Beach.
Viso, contesting his fourth IndyCar season, second with KVRT - Lotus and first in the Lotus livery, has 24 points after the first two races of the season and is 24th in the standings.
Next up for KVRT - Lotus is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 15-17, on the streets of Long Beach, California. The race will be broadcast live on Versus beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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