The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season heads to ISM Raceway this weekend for the first oval event of the season, which will see the universal oval aero-kit race for the first time this season.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing head to the Phoenix Grand Prix having set the fastest time in all four of the open test sessions that took place there.
The team have had a strong start to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season with Graham Rahal having finished second in the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg where Rahal had started the race from the back of the grid.
Rahal who will drive the No.15 One Cure Honda this weekend is confident the team will have a competitive car for Saturday’s race:
I believe we should be very competitive, but always keeping in mind that others will improve too. There is no doubt about that. I think we needed to focus on chassis balance a bit as we approach the weekend but I am confident Tom (German) and the engineering group will get it right. The new universal aero kit will make it a much more competitive race. Everyone knows the struggles of the past, and somewhat of a split grid. That won’t be the case this time. I think you (as a driver) are in for a long night and a very competitive race weekend.
Takuma Sato will be driving the No.30 MiJack Honda this weekend and is looking forward to a strong weekend at ISM Raceway having set the fastest time overall during oval testing of the 2018 universal oval aero-kit.
Sato is hoping that he can have a strong race this weekend:
We had quite a successful open test in February. Obviously the temperatures and conditions will be different but it gave us a very good indication of the new aero kit on the track there and we had a very productive test. The test was something I was looking forward to for a long time. I felt the car was very fun to drive and we looked strong in testing. Phoenix is an exciting track. The sensation of speed and G-forces are impressive. Hopefully we have a good night and hopefully we will be competitive.
Speaking about racing with the universal oval aero-kit configuration for the first time, Sato commented by saying:
As we expected for St. Pete, the reduction of downforce affected the racing a lot. At Phoenix, it is now difficult to go flat (on the accelerator). In fact no one has gone flat there yet. Imagine you now have to race with the qualifying level (of downforce) that we had last year. The tire management is going to be even more important. At the end of every stint, stint-by-stint, is going to come down to who can manage their tires better because there will be big tire degradation for sure due to the lack of downforce. I’m sure that will make the racing very exciting. In St. Pete we weren’t fortunate in the race but I think we showed a good competitiveness so hopefully we will be very strong again in Phoenix.
Graham Rahal is hoping that the team can carry on the momentum from the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg to the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway, saying:
I am very pleased with how the season began. I would have liked to finish one spot better of course, but I won’t get too greedy! We got lucky there with some stuff, and overcame a lot with strategy, having speed when needed and keeping our heads down throughout that race. I definitely think Phoenix should be good for us. We need to focus hard on areas we were weak at during the test and find a way to make some magic happen for the One Cure team!
Rahal will have new primary sponsors for both this weekend’s race in Phoenix and the next event, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, with One Cure and Total coming on board and speaking about this news, Rahal commented by saying:
It’s huge for our team to have brought new primary sponsors in this season. I am very proud to be associated with both One Cure and Total and think we are going to help them grow their fan base, customer base and get more support away from the racetrack. I am proud to be running the One Cure car at Phoenix and Total at Long Beach. It will be awesome!