Lotus driver E. J. Viso, finished ninth today in the Grand Prix of Sonoma in Sonoma, California. Takuma Sato finished 18th while Tony Kanaan suffered a mechanical problem and placed 28th.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, who was the fastest of the KVRT – Lotus trio and led the team in qualifying for the first time this year, started ninth. He drove a solid, patient race and never put a wheel wrong on the challenging 1.968-mile, 12-turn Infineon Raceway permanent road course. He got as high as sixth and was never lower than 10th. Viso, who made his fourth start in picturesque Sonoma, earned his second best finish here, placed sixth in 2008 and tied his season-best finish on a road/street circuit (placed ninth in Toronto).
“Finishing in the top-10 today was not bad especially after the difficult weekend we had as a team,” Viso said. “We never really found the full speed that we needed to run up front. It was one of those weekends where you need to try and stay strong which we showed today. We believe that our street setup suits the next race and so we will be looking for a strong finish. I want to thank the PDVSA – KVRT – Lotus for all their hard work this weekend and also my sponsors”.
Viso scored 22 points today and is now 18th in the standings with 202 points. The 26-year-old Venezuelan, who after a rough start to the season, has now 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 the ninths at Toronto and here. His career best finish on a road/street course is fourth at St. Petersburg in 2008 (overall career-high, third in Iowa).
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, qualified 16th, but early in the race the team decided to go to the alternate “red” tires and employ a three-stop strategy in a effort to gain track position. Unfortunately, the yellow flag needed to make the strategy work and did not materialize until late in the race when it was too late. Sato competed at Infineon Raceway for the second time. In his debut last year he finished 18th.
Commenting on the race Sato said, “It was a tough, long race. We were flexible about doing a two or three pit stop strategy. Then early in the race the team made the decision to go with three stops. We had the pace however things didn’t quite work out with the strategy. The biggest problem we had was a lack of speed. We have to work really hard to find some. It was a disappointing finish.”
Sato went on to say, “The KVRT – Lotus mechanics did a great job today. Before the start of the race we had a water leak and the crew had to change the radiator 15 minutes before the start of the race. They did a fantastic job and I just want to say well done everybody.”
Sato earned 12 points for his effort today and is now 11th in the standings with 250 points. The 34-year-old from Japan has finished in the top-10 six times including his first three IndyCar top-five finishes (career-high fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifths at St. Petersburg and Texas).
Kanaan, No. 82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, started 21st and like his teammate went to the red tires, three stop strategy early. Unfortunately, at the halfway point of the race he experienced a mechanical problem which ended his race. Kanaan, who made his seventh start at Infineon Raceway today, had the best average finish of any IndyCar driver that has competed in the first six races at Infineon Raceway (5.67). He has finished in the top-10 five times with a win in 2005 (fourth in 2007, third in 2008, eighth in 2009 and seventh in 2010) who failed to qualify in the top-10 for the first time in seven attempts here in Sonoma
“We went on an alternate strategy right in the beginning of the race to get rid of the black tires,” Kanaan said. “It went really well until I got stuck behind Carpenter and couldn’t pass him. The GEICO – KV – Lotus guys did a good job with the strategy but it didn’t pan out. After that we had a mechanical problem that ended my race.”
Kanaan scored 10 points today and is now sixth in the championship race with 305 points. The 36-year-old Brazilian has finished in the top-10 eight times including six top-five showings and two podiums (second at Iowa and third at St. Petersburg). Kanaan has finished in the top-10 in five of the eight road/street races including three top-five finishes and a podium (St. Petersburg, third; Edmonton, fourth; Mid-Ohio, fifth also placed sixth at Barber and eighth at Long Beach).
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 10 top-10 finishes with five top-five finishes in eight road/street events.
Next up for KVRT – Lotus is the Baltimore Grand Prix, September 2-4, on the streets of downtown Baltimore in Baltimore, MD. The race will be broadcast live, Sunday, September 4 on Versus at 2:00 p.m. ET