Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato in the No.30 MiJack Panasonic Honda is hoping to carry the momentum he gained from his win in St Louis last time out to Portland for this weekend’s penultimate race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season.
The Japanese driver not only won last time out but he is also the defending Portland race winner.
Speaking ahead of the race he said:
“It’s great to go back to Portland as the defending winner and also after having won in St. Louis. Portland is a beautiful city with the nearby mountains, the Columbia river and lots of seafood. There is also a great Japanese community there and a lot of Japanese restaurants so I love it even more. The fans waited a long time for the return of Indy car racing and I’m really honored to be the first winner for the new generation of races there. That was also the first win for me with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing so there are a lot of great memories and happy moments. I’m really happy to be there as the defending champion and I believe we can do a good job again.”
Sato has taken two wins so far this season with his first one of the year coming at the Grand Prix of Alabama where he won from pole and speaking about Rahal’s increased competitiveness on road courses he said:
It is a tough track for sure and it was an extremely tight field last year. We couldn’t qualify well last year but the time difference between the front row to the bottom was only a couple of tenths (of a second) so it is extremely important to squeeze the last percent of performance possible in qualifying. Further up on the grid is better of course but, if you look at last year, we ran a very unique strategy in terms of the fuel and succeeded. I don’t know if that can happen again this year but more importantly our generic road course setup this year is more competitive than it was last year so I’m looking forward to having a very competitive weekend again.”
Graham Rahal has great memories of Portland having takEn his first professional win here in 2005.
Speaking about the race this weekend he said:
I love going to Portland, it’s a great race. Last year is not what we hoped for. We were pretty competitive last year and I expect us to be pretty competitive again this year. We’re poised for a good race there. I have had good success winning in Star Mazda, being on pole in Formula Atlantic and being quick there last year so hopefully all the pieces of the puzzle come together. There is no margin for error to go fast there. Like all tracks, you’ve got to push it to the limit to get the most out of a lap but there is a very fine line there between what is good and what is not at Portland. And there is not a lot of runoffs so the moment you drop a wheel, you’re really in the grass whereas a lot of other places have a little bit of margin. Some other teams tested last week which is probably going to give them a leg up but hopefully we can catch up quick.”