Lotus placed two cars in the top-five as Takuma Sato finished an IndyCar career-high fourth and Tony Kanaan placed fifth today in the Honda Indy 200 on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Teammate E. J. Viso was running in the top-10, but had an early race incident and finished 15th.
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, started ninth and drove a smart, patient race then on the final restart following a caution used an outstanding restart to put him in fourth. Sato made his second appearance at Mid-Ohio. In his debut here last year he qualified a season-high third, but following an incident, finished 25th. The fourth place finish surpasses a pair of fifth place performances earlier this year to establish a new IndyCar career-high.
“I am very pleased with today’s result,” Sato said. “It has been a tough weekend and considering the circumstances we achieved the best result possible. The warm-up this morning was not particularly easy for me, but we came back in the race. We got a very solid job from the engineering staff and a great performance by the crew during pit stops. I was patient all through the race and saved my resources until I needed them. I made some positions up on the last restart, which was exciting and the key the result. In the end, to be able to challenge the top-three and finish in fourth hopefully will give us some momentum.”
Sato picked up 32 points today and is now 12th in the standings with 212 points, just nine points out of 10th. The 34-year-old from Japan, in just his second IndyCar season is having a breakout year. He as finished in the top-10 five times this year including scoring his first three IndyCar top-five finishes (today’s fourth along with fifths at St. Petersburg and Texas. In addition to earning his first top-five finishes, he has captured his first pole, at Iowa, (got his second at Edmonton) and led his first IndyCar race, at Brazil (subsequently led two more races, Iowa and Edmonton). Sato has been strong on street and road circuits this year. He has the fourth here at Mid-Ohio, the fifth at St. Petersburg, the eighth at Brazil, the pole at Edmonton and has had strong performances at Barber, Long Beach and Edmonton nullified by incidents.
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, had an equally, if not more impressive race than Sato. Starting 16th, he was running in 14th when the first round of pits stops began. The stop occurred during a caution, which at Mid-Ohio, with its small pit boxes always presents a problem. As a result, Kanaan rejoined the race in 18th place. During the ensuing restart, he did a spectacular job picking up five places and a total of seven positions over the next 10 laps. Kanaan ran in 11th place until the final caution where he once again demonstrated his mastery of the restart moving up additional six spots into fifth where he remained until the end of the race. Kanaan, who was made his 10th start at Mid-Ohio today (five in CART and five in IndyCar), has now finished in the top-10 six times with a best showing of fourth also in 2007.
“I can’t complain about a top-five finish, but we should’ve been better,” Kanaan said. “We lost too much time and positions in the pits for the second race in a row. That makes things difficult to make up at the track. But, it was a solid result for the GEICO – KVRT – Lotus team and also for Taku’s team with a fourth-place finish.”
Kanaan earned 30 points today and is now fourth in the standings with 283 points. The veteran of 14 seasons (10in the IndyCar series) and perennial championship contender is having his best season in three years. Kanaan has been the model of consistency in leading the team with eight top-10 finishes including six top-five showings and two podiums (second at Iowa and third at St. Petersburg) in 12 races (Texas two starts). The 36-year-old Brazilian has been extremely competitive on the road/street circuits this season finishing in the top-10 in five of the seven races including three top-five finishes and a podium (St. Petersburg, third; Edmonton, fourth; Barber, sixth and Long Beach, eighth).
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, started 12th and was running in 10th after the first lap. He held station until the first pit stop. However, shortly after the restart Viso was forced off the track and by the time he rejoined, was in 24th place. Viso spent the remainder of the race fighting his way back to 15th despite having to save fuel throughout the final stint. Viso contested his fourth race at Mid-Ohio today. He equaled his best finish, 15th which he first achieved in 2009.
“Unfortunately the contact with J.R. Hildebrand messed up my result today,” Viso said. “I was running in a good position behind Sato, when suddenly J.R. who was a few positions behind, came in from the outside causing me to lose positions as I braked hard to avoid contact with him. We had a pretty good start and I was following Takuma through my first stint and things were looking good until then. I was able to gain some places back but the last 20 laps were very tricky because I had to save a lot of fuel. This is not something we deserve after such a good weekend. We put so much effort in and it paid off for the team with Takuma’s fourth and Tony’s fifth place finish.”
Viso scored 15 points in today’s race and is now 20th in the standings with 162 points. The 26-year-old Venezuelan has finished in the top-10 three times this year including a season-high seventh in the first race in Texas (finished 10th in the second ) and a road/street course season-high ninth in Toronto. Viso’s career best finish on a street/road course is fourth at St. Petersburg in 2008 (overall career-high, third in Iowa). Viso has had several strong efforts on both street/road circuits and ovals negated by a string of misfortune that included a punctured tire at St. Petersburg, getting hit by another competitor at Barber, a questionable blocking penalty at Brazil, an incident at Milwaukee and two punctured tires at Toronto.
Next up for KVRT – Lotus is the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225, August 11-14, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast live, Sunday, August 14 on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET