Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing kicked off their pre-season Verizon IndyCar Series test programme in fantastic fashion as Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato set the pace in the combined sessions at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

Graham Rahal had a combined session time of 19.4574s and speaking following his day in the car, Rahal commented by saying:

Overall, a lot of positives to be taken out of today’s session. We’re good, and Takuma (Sato) is right behind us. And frankly, that lap wasn’t anywhere near what the potential was. We were on a (19.30 second lap), but I caught traffic, I caught (Charlie) Kimball. My sense is what’s good is that I’m ultimately not super happy, ideally, with the car. The car has pace. Both cars have pace, and so that’s awesome. Trust me, to come here, Takuma and I were talking last night and we were like, ‘You know, I don’t really like this place.We haven’t had a lot of luck here the last few years, we’re used to coming here and getting our butts kicked.’ To be able to come here and be competitive with this aero kit is awesome. Obviously Honda has done a good job with the engines, but I mean it’s competitive. It’s close, kit’s going to be close. It’s our first time being on a short oval with this aero kit. It’s the most fun I have had on a short oval in years. The car is much more driver sensitive. To me it’s what an Indy car should be on a track like this. The car doesn’t obviously corner as quick, but it accelerates down the straightaways a lot better.

Takuma Sato who has returned to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was second fastest in the No.30 Honda. In the opening session, Sato was fastest while in the second session, the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner finished the session in second place behind team mate Graham Rahal and speaking following the day of action, the Japanese driver commented by saying:

It was a good day for our first day on an oval. The team did a lot of preparation over the course of the winter and we had a very productive, positive day. There is a lot to learn and still a lot of things to be done for race weekend, but we made progress today and showed good speed. I’m very happy considering it was our first day. It was a good day and hopefully it continues tomorrow.

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