Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing head into the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg presented by RP Funding, aiming for a strong start to the season.
The team has an unchanged line-up for this year with Graham Rahal driving the No.15 United Rentals Honda this weekend and speaking ahead of the race this weekend, he commented saying:
I feel really good about where we’re at this year. I think Stefano (Sordo, technical director) has brought in a great mindset, but I think also organizationally from the team perspective we seem to be in a much better place also. Everybody is working towards achieving the same goals. I do urge a little bit of patience though as many of the areas will take some time to develop but overall I feel really good about where we stand.
“I’m excited to be back with (race engineer) Eddie (Jones). He and I won five times in three years. We know how to win together, and hopefully we can get this thing back on track. We’re pretty fired up about it. Eddie and I are kind of both pretty low-key guys. We’re on the same page. Super fiery and competitive, but off the track I think we both have a similar mindset. Adam Kolesar is my assistant engineer again and a lot of my core group is still together and Derek Davidson is on my car as well this year as strategist. I’m excited about that because I’ve never gotten to work with Double D in that regard, and he’s a guy I have tremendous respect for as a leader, an organizer and a manager and everything else. We had a solid run at St. Pete last year. We were fairly quick, particularly in Q1 (Round 1 of qualifying) and in Q2 but we lost our way a little but we’ve worked hard on some simulator stuff and we gained some things out of the Thermal test. Hopefully we can put all those pieces together that we learned in the off season and at Thermal and have a great year.”
Jack Harvey has had a number change for this season and will be in the No.30 Kustom Entertainment Honda this weekend in St Pete and he is hoping to show the potential of the team starting this weekend on the streets of St Pete.
think it’s been a really good off-season for us honestly. When the season finished, I went back to the UK for a little bit, and I think that was productive for me. It was just like a two-week trip. I came back ready to get back to work with a little bit of mental capacity to really dive into what went wrong in ’22, and one of the best feelings that I kind of left all of that with was feeling like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we were aware of what we want to work on and put solutions in place to try and do that, and obviously we’ll see how well we’ve done that come race time. But one of the best things about the atmosphere of the team was that level of reciprocation of accountability, whether it was with me and what I felt like I needed to improve, from the engineers, to the mechanics. These are the reasons why I love being a part of RLL, because I was excited that everybody’s attitude and outlook was one of really just positivity and I think a really healthy approach to trying to have a better season.
“I think the off-season was great, and then in terms of 2023, what we’re hoping to achieve, it’s probably going out and just getting the results that we know we have the talent to get, whether it’s hopefully my talent or the team’s talent. I feel like I had a good off-season, but I feel like as an organization, Rahal Letterman Lanigan has had a really great one, as well, moving into the new building full time, the new acquisition and hires that we’ve got. I think it all will really contribute into something great. I think it’s the case now that really I feel like we have turned the page on last year.
“The best thing about starting a new year is you get a new opportunity, and there’s while there is an opportunity for me to be a driver in this series, I’m going to go out and try and just be better than I was the previous year. I love what I get to do. I think I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to get to do this and call it a job. I think a lot of the off-season you haven’t heard any huge statements from anybody at RLL really. It’s been more of a case of the good old classic cliches, we want to go to the track and do our talking there. I feel like that’s been the attitude of work hard, say less, and let’s just crack on.”
Christian Lundgaard who was crowned 2022 Rookie Of The Year starts his second full-time season in the NTT IndyCar Series and this weekend will drive the No.45 Hy-Vee Honda and looking ahead to the race this weekend he said:
I think this has been the longest off-season I’ve ever had. The longest off-season prior has been two months so its double basically so I’m super excited for the first race weekend coming up. We’ve only had one test in Thermal, California which went pretty well. We were second fastest both days so the car was competitive which is what we want.
“St. Pete is a great event. I’m looking forward to just getting the season started and seeing where we are at, competition wise. It’s been a long winter and I’m quite confident that we found some progress. I think the way the team is moving forward, I think the journey that we’re on, we’ve got to stick to it and make sure that we keep improving the way we are. I think it’s taking baby steps. We have a better package already. Where we ended 2022, across the three cars, was already way better than we started. We were competitive.
“I’ve rewatched all the races, written down notes on X, Y and Z, trying to figure out what I can do personally to improve. I think that’s what my second season in INDYCAR will be all about, getting rid of all the silly rookie mistakes and get the basics right. Again, if you do qualify first, you’ve got everything to lose. If you qualify last, you’ve got everything to gain. We need to be in the front without losing anything. But I’m not expecting to win every race. I’m expecting to have three cars to fight for the win. That’s a journey the team is on. I’ll do everything in my power to help with that. But going into my second season now, I’ve been to every track. I came into my rookie season, I’d only driven at two of them out of the 17. Looking at how the second half of 2022 ended, I’m not at all in doubt that I’ve got what it takes, I’ve just got to do it. I’ve just got to deliver that.
“I have my experiences in the 45 car. That was my first car I drove in INDYCAR in 2021. So now to come back with Hy-Vee and represent them, I think it’s great. They’re great people and they are sending a great message to race nd general sports fans. I think we need more sponsors and promoters doing what they’re doing.
“The INDYCAR is just a beast to drive. I think the biggest difference (in driving an F2 car compared to an Indy car) is not necessarily the weight but the endurance. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour-long race where you’re just doing qualifying laps the whole race, with refueling. You would run the tank empty, then you’d come in, put new tires on and refuel the car. You go out there, it’s certainly not the same beast you drove two laps earlier. That’s what makes it tougher. But it’s super fun.