Lotus driver Tony Kanaan finished fourth today in the Edmonton Indy on the new 2.256-mile, 13-turn Edmonton City Centre Airport temporary street circuit in Edmonton, Canada. Teammate E. J. Viso was running in the top-10 when he was involved in an incident and finished 20th. Takuma Sato, who started on the pole, was competing for the win when he was hit by another competitor and ended up 21st.
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, started 11th. He drove a smart patient race and was sitting in ninth place when he pitted for the first time during a caution period on lap 26. Unfortunately, an uncooperative wheel nut prolonged his first stop dropping him to 16th place. Fighting his way back, Kanaan moved into fifth place on lap 51 where he remained until the lap 79 of the 80 lap contest when he assumed fourth as Ryan Briscoe was forced to pit for fuel. Kanaan, who was making his fourth appearance in Edmonton, had his best weekend here. His 11th place starting position surpassed his previous high of 13th in 2009 and the fourth place finish easily topped a ninth place showing in 2008
“It was a good result, it was a good race and it’s great for the Geico – KV Racing – Lotus crew,” Kanaan said.. “If felt good being out there with those guys, you know, all guys that know what they are doing like Justin, Ryan and Dario. We had some great battles and finishing fourth after starting eleventh and on top of that having a bad pit stop is pretty rewarding, especially considering that I got back to fourth in the championship. I feel bad for my teammates because I know that all the three KV cars were supposed to be in the top-five.”
Kanaan earned 32 points today and picked up one spot in the championship race. He is now fourth in the standings with 253 points just 29 out of third. The 36-year-old Brazilian has been extremely competitive and extremely consistent through the first half of the 2011 season. In 11 races this season, the perennial championship contender has finished in the top-10 seven times with five top-five showings and two podiums (second at Iowa and third at St. Petersburg). In six events on street or road circuits this year he has finished in the top-10 four times including two top-five showings and one podium (third at St. Petersburg, fourth here in Edmonton, sixth at Barber and eighth in Long Beach). .
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, started a season-high fifth and ran in fifth or sixth place throughout the first stint. Following his first pit stop, on lap 26, he was sitting in ninth place due to some drivers that were out of sequence with the lead cars. However, following the restart he became involved in an incident with Scott Dixon in turn five, which claimed several drivers today, and by the time he rejoined the race he was a lap down to the leaders. Viso continued to battle throughout the remainder of the contest and earned 12 championship points giving him a total of 147 and placing him 20th in the standings. This was Viso’s fourth start in Edmonton. His best performance here was last year when he qualified sixth, which he topped this year, but finished eighth.
“This for sure was not the result we could have achieved.” Viso said. “I started up at the front and on one of the restarts I made contact with Dixon, which I feel bad about as he finished the race some laps behind. It was a pretty messy corner and I got too close and braked on the inside and we hit. I then lost a lap waiting to be restarted and from then on there was not much else we could do. We had a pretty fast car during the race. I think I got the second fastest time and we showed we were strong as a team all weekend. I want to thank everyone who is part of KVRT – Lotus who has helped make us stronger and also my sponsors PDVSA. I really feel bad. I thought we had a chance for a podium.”
There is no other way to describe Sato’s race then being a victim. He qualified the No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus on the pole, led the first 18 laps, the third time he has led laps this season (Brazil and Iowa), dropped to fourth place after having a problem on lap 19, but then came storming back during the restart following the first caution to move into second place. Immediately following the restart Sato was heading into the now infamous turn five when he was hit on the left rear by Ryan Hunter-Reay which caused Sato to spin (Hunter-Ryan received a drive through penalty for “avoidable contact” and following the race sought out Sato and apologized). .While the damage was minimal, it did cause Sato’s car to stall and by the time track officials got him restarted he was a lap off the pace and his race was essentially over. This was Sato’s second start in Edmonton. In his Edmonton debut last year he qualified 13th and finished ninth. Sato earned 13 points this weekend, one for the pole and 12 for his efforts in the race, but dropped two positions in the standings to 16th with 180 points. He is 32 points out of 10th.
“It is disappointing finishing in the back like this. The start was very exciting. I had a good feeling leading the race. Then I had a little problem with the balance and lost some positions. After that there was a caution and we changed tires. On the restart I regained most of the positions and was running in second. Everything was looking good and I was comfortable with the pace, but unfortunately Hunter–Reay hit me and damaged my car and put me a lap down. It was a long race after that and very difficult to stay motivated. I feel very bad for all the crew. They worked so hard all weekend. It was a positive weekend for us until the middle of the race. I am just so disappointed.”
Next up for KVRT – Lotus is the Honda Indy 200, August 5-7, at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The race will be broadcast live, Sunday, August 7 on Versus at 2:00 p.m. ET