Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team co-owner and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal says the team has been making steady progress on road and street course events this season. The team scored a great victory on the streets of Toronto last month with Christian Lundgaard, while at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Graham Rahal scored a pole and second-place finish.
Speaking to Paddock Eye in a conference call announcing Yuri Vips for the final two races in the 2023 season, Rahal commented saying:
I would say, first off, thank you. I think we’ve still got a ways to go on ovals. As you saw this past weekend, we were okay, but you got to be a lot better than okay to win on the ovals. So we have our work to do.
But on the road course I think, for example, at Indy GP a couple of years ago when we did the one-off with Christian, he was I think fourth on the grid, almost put it on pole. So we’ve kind of always had a good feel for that circuit and things we learned there.
Certainly you looked at Toronto, of course. That was a great victory for Christian, a great race for us.
Then Indy GP, again, having the front row. That was really special. Graham really drove a fantastic race, did everything he could to win, and was unlucky with the early yellow that seemed to take forever to end and rewarded others.
So I think on the road racing side and street racing side we’ve been I guess closer to where we needed to be. That made that jump. Maybe we’re three-quarters of the way there. It’s certainly come together a little bit more this year.
We’re certainly looking forward to Portland and Laguna because we think they’re going to be a lot like — last year we were good at Portland. Graham finished fifth in the race. Christian was running first or second, and a lot of that race he made a little mistake.
So we’re really looking forward to that. Of course, we’re going to continue to try to improve ourselves on the road courses and the street courses, but for us our major effort over the course — well, since May in my what I call the Indy recovery plan was to figure out — put us back on the front row at Indy.
As I said, it’s hard to believe — this year it would have been hard to believe that we won that race two years earlier. Yeah, a lot of work to do yet, but we’re getting there, slowly but surely.
Speaking about the addition of Juri Vips, Rahal said:
Well, I know that he and Christian raced together for a number of years, and there’s a good relationship there. Obviously we’re looking to field the strongest drivers that we can find.
With Graham from we’ve got a wily veteran who has shown he can run up front. On the front row in now two of the races this year, Mid-Ohio and, of course, Indy.
Christian, we’ve got youth. Still learning. I mean, he’s still a little wet behind the ears, as we would say over here. And, of course, now with Yuri he is getting thrown into the deep end a bit, but I have confidence in him, and he’s going to be lucky because he’s going to have two great teammates that can help ease that transition.
It’s all about our future, and we’ve asked Yuri to participate in these races because we think that highly of him.
Vips, who has tested for Rahal previously commented saying:
A lot, to be honest. The cars, essentially they are quite similar downforce, quite similar in horsepower than F-2, which I have decent amount of experience in, but there’s so many differences. It’s a completely different racing series.
I’ve already learned quite a lot. I’ve gone to a couple of races and been around the factory a bit. So I feel like pretty integrated in the team as much as I could be, and definitely Christian and Graham have helped me with that, that transition phase.
I’m sure I’ll learn a lot during the race weekend, but definitely having driven the car, having spent a bit of time here in the U.S. has helped me with that transition because it is a completely different racing series to F2, completely different demands.
Yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.