Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will have an extra car in the field for this weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course as Spencer Pigot joins Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato in partnership with Citrone Buhl Autosport. Speaking ahead of the race this weekend, Rahal who is driving the No.15 Fifth Third Bank Honda goes into the race weekend off the back of a 17th place finish in Texas.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s race Rahal said:
There will be a lot of racing in the next three weeks, but we’re prepared. Physically I feel good, rested and ready. I think the team is ready, as well, and we’ve always seen that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing rises up in the toughest of times, and I think that will continue. It’s very hard to apply anything we got from the COTA test since it was very limited due to conditions. We’re really relying on what we’ve learned in the sim and hoping it will translate nicely for us. The sim work was great. We found some huge improvements over our old setups, found a good lap time and really put ourselves in a better spot. Now the question remains, how will that translate to the track? We will find out shortly. We have worked really hard on resolving any prior issues that may have hurt us in Texas or in the past. I feel with the work on the sim and everywhere else that we’ve developed, our team has done a great job and prepared us for this weekend. It’s exciting to get back, and I’m thrilled to be getting going for the next few months. I imagine it will be a lot hotter now than it would have been in May. It will test the drivers with everything we’ve had going on, limited to no time on track in these cars with the Aeroscreen and everything else. It will be a challenge for us all, and the Fifth Third Bank team hopes to rise to the occasion.” (On racing with NASCAR): “It’s monumental. It’s a shame we will not have fans in attendance to see it all with us, but this is a great weekend for motorsports, and I’m excited to see what this can do for us in the future.”
Takuma Sato in the No.30 Panasonic One Cure Honda is hoping to maximize their car with five races in the next three weeks. The Japanese driver will be hoping for a better weekend as he failed to make the race start in Texas last month due to a mechanical problem.
Speaking ahead of the race this weekend Sato said:
It’s very important to maximize the potential of five races in three weeks, but we need to do our best every weekend, no matter the circumstance. It will be hard for everyone at the team as its consecutive weekends, but hopefully we will be in great shape for every race. I think the biggest challenge of the GMR Grand Prix will be how we deal with just a single practice session before qualifying. It’s a 90-minute session, but we don’t have time for analyzing data between sessions, and if you need to change a suspension geometry or make some big change, then we lose a lot of time. It’s very limited on-track time. It’s challenging, for sure, not to have had on-track testing, as well as very limited access to the sim. Driver cooling on a road course is a little unknown for a hot day, but everyone seemed impressed with the cooling at the (Texas) oval so hopefully, we will have similar performance. The team is preparing everything they can, and we hope all the analysis we’ve done leads to a great performance on the track
Spencer Pigot in the No.45 RLL with Citrone Buhl Autosport Honda believes it is going to be a challenging weekend as he has yet to drive an IndyCar with the Aeroscreen and speaking ahead of the race he said:
The fact that the race was rescheduled will definitely help me a bit. Instead of the GMR Grand Prix being almost midseason, it’s the first road course race of the year so everyone will be trying to get comfortable again. Having said that, I think I’m the only driver that has no experience with the Aeroscreen, so that will be a big difference. I’ve talked to a lot of drivers, and they say it doesn’t take too long to get used to. Hopefully, that will be the case for me on Friday. It’s going to be a challenging weekend. The IMS road course is always pretty tricky. There are some technical sections with corners right on top of each other, so you have to be very accurate because one small mistake can affect three or four corners rather than just one. It will be great to work with Graham (Rahal) and Takuma (Sato) this weekend. They are two of the top drivers in INDYCAR, so being able to compare data and discuss car changes with them will be very helpful. With their only being one practice session, having three cars within one team will allow us to try more changes to make the best decisions before qualifying. I’ve been training a lot leading up to this weekend. I’ve been doing more workouts outside in the heat trying to prepare for the weather and the Aeroscreen. At Pit Fit Training, we’ve also been adding in some time in the sauna to our workouts to help get acclimated to the conditions we expect. I’ve also been going to the shop about three days a week, getting to know all the crew members better, get comfortable in the car, practicing pitstops, etc. I’ve been on the phone with my engineer on a regular basis, as well as going over some setup ideas and trying to plan out the weekend. We aren’t allowed inside the track until the morning of practice, so we are trying to prepare as much as possible before we get to the Speedway.