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Lotus 10Th, 14Th And 18Th On Speed Charts After First Day Of Practice

Mark H

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Lotus drivers Takuma Sato, Tony Kanaan and E. J. Viso were 10th, 14th and 18th respectively on the speed charts following the first day of practice for the Indy Japan The Final at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Tochigi, Japan.

The IZOD IndyCar Series, which will not return to Japan in 2012, is being contested on the 2.983-mile, 14-turn TRM permanent road course, for the first time. It has competed on the Twin Ring Motegi oval since 2003.

Commenting on his day, Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who logged a fast time of 100.4435 seconds (106.914 mph), said. "It was a great first day. I have really fantastic support from the fans beginning with the opening ceremony at 9:00 a.m. this morning. In just about every corner you can see the flags and hear the fans cheering. The practice session itself was difficult. We know what we want, but the grip level we had today was very low. It was very slippery and the car was difficult to drive. The good thing is we have a three car team so we have a lot of good data to review. We need to work very hard, but I think we will be able to improve tomorrow.'

Sato made his Motegi IndyCar debut last year and had his best oval performance of the season qualifying 10th and finishing 12th. The 34-year-old from Japan is 14th in the standings with 262 points just 22 out of 10th. He has finished in the top-10 six times this year including his first three IndyCar top-five finishes (career-high fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifths at St. Petersburg and Texas). He has also earned his first two IndyCar poles (Iowa, oval and Edmonton, street circuit) becoming the first Japanese driver to do this and led his first IndyCar race (Brazil) and subsequently three others. Three of his top-10 finishes, two of his top-fives and one pole have come on road/street events.

Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who posted a time of 100.6600 seconds (106.684 mph) said, "We had a difficult day today, I was not happy with how the car was handling and I believe that we have a lot to improve before qualifying. We'll work overnight and hopefully we can find what's upsetting the car to get it dialed in for tomorrow."

Kanaan has made 13 starts on the oval here at Motegi (five in the CART Series and eight in the IndyCar Series). In his eight IndyCar Series starts has qualified in the top-10 seven times including five times in the top-five with a best starting position of second in 2003 and finished in the top-10 six times with four top-five showings, three podium performances and a win in 2007. The 36-year-old Brazilian is fifth in the championship race with 340 points, just 27 out of fourth. He leads KVRT – Lotus with nine top-10 finishes including seven top-five showings and three podiums (second at Iowa, thirds at St. Petersburg and Baltimore). Kanaan however has not qualified well on the road/street circuits starting in the top-10 just twice in nine events this year, but he has been extremely competitive in the races finishing in the top-10 six times including four top-five finishes and two podiums.

Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, recorded a lap of 100.8351 seconds (106.499 mph). Regarding today's event he said, "It's always great to be driving surrounded with so many enthusiastic fans every time we race in Japan, I feel proud for them because after all the catastrophe that happened they are still so strong and very positive about life. It's great that IndyCar has put this race together as I believe this event is bringing the Japanese fans lots of excitement and something to look forward to."

Viso went on to say, "The track is setup very nicely finished, it's smooth and clean. At the moment we are adapting the car to some low grip level. We are working on some important changes over night which should be good for tomorrow."

Viso has raced on the Motegi oval twice with a best starting position of eighth last year. He has finished 15th both times (2009 and 2010). The 26-year-old Venezuelan is 18th in the standings with 217 points. He has finished in the top-10 four times this year, twice on ovals, a season-high seventh in race one at Texas and 10th in the second plus road-course season-high ninths at Toronto and Sonoma. His career best finish on a road/street course is fourth at St. Petersburg in 2008 (overall career-high, third in Iowa). Viso has had competitive races on the road/street circuits this year. However, his efforts have been stymied by a string of what can only be described as bad luck.

KVRT – Lotus has had some of their best results this season on tracks that require drivers to turn right as well as left and earning 11 top-10 finishes with six top-five showings in nine road/street events.

There will be two practice sessions tomorrow the first at 9:00 a.m. and the second at 12:00 noon followed by qualifying at 3:00 p.m. The Bridgestone Indy, will be broadcast in the United States on Saturday, September 16 on Versus at 11:30 p.m. ET.


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