Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal goes into this weekend’s Kohler Grand Prix at the Road America circuit for the first time since he finished on the podium here in Champ Car in 2007 in third place behind race winner Sebastien Bourdais and Dan Clarke and speaking about the return of Road America, Rahal commented by saying:
Road America is my favorite track, and the favorite of many drivers. It’s the best track at four miles long, with elevation changes and many challenging, interesting parts. If you ask my dad or many drivers, they will tell you it’s the best, pure road course. Road America was another track that I went to a lot as a kid when my dad was racing. I spent a lot of time there and loved going there. It was definitely one of my favorites as a kid. A fun thing for me is that we have the Gehl car coming back and that will be as special for me as returning to Road America.
Speaking about his past results here, Rahal commented by saying:
Racing wise, my results at Road America have been up and down, In Champ Car in 2007 we were on the podium and in Atlantic’s we had a mechanical problem and lost the championship so it’s been up and down. I’m definitely looking forward to being back there and will hopefully get better results this time around. I watched the 2007 race the other day. We had a good race car and were consistent and worked our way forward which is the same thing we’re going to have to do this time. The IndyCar Series is so competitive that it’s going to be a lot tougher this time around. There will be a lot of guys with good cars and with the draft — the way this car punches a hole in the air – you’re going to get a lot of passing because there will be guys who will be able to come from pretty far behind and get good runs.
Speaking about his Formula Atlantic battle with Simon Pagenaud who leads the Verizon IndyCar Series points standing Rahal commented by saying:
It was frustrating because Simon had been taken out of the race so all I needed to do was have a decent finish, a top-10 or so. We were running third and the stuck throttle switch failed. That’s a very simple part and something I didn’t even know those cars had on them. It failed and I couldn’t get the car to run, it shut off several times and we ended up losing the championship which was frustrating.
What does it take to run a great lap at Road America, and what are Rahal’s favourite parts of the circuit?
To do it (a lap in an Indy car) all right, you are hanging on in the infield due to running so little downforce in order to be fast on the straights which makes it difficult to get that balance right. That’s one of the most challenging aspects of it plus it’s a long lap and to get the most out of every part of the track and put the perfect lap time together is a challenge in and of itself. In practice you might normally get 20 or 30 laps at any other road course but at Road America you might only get 10 because it takes so long to do it. The level of downforce on the car is one of the most challenging things about racing at Road America. You run as little downforce as possible to be fast on the long straights so in the slow speed parts of the track, you are kind of hanging on. The carousel is the most enjoyable. The kink is fast but the kink in these cars is just a quick moment of intensity whereas the carousel is long and you are really hanging on. And the speed that these things corner at nowadays, the carousel is definitely going to separate the men from the boys.
Rahal goes into this weekend’s race in 12th place in the championship just two points behind Charlie Kimball in 10th place and speaking about what he can expect following the Verizon IndyCar Series test at Road America on June 15, Rahal commented by saying:
Testing went really well and I do anticipate that we should be very competitive. We didn’t get to work on our car that much that day because we were doing a lot testing for INDYCAR so we’re going to arrive there, change a couple of things and I think we should be pretty good.”