In a brutal racethat featured eight caution flags, KV Racing Technology – Lotus driver E. J. Viso overcame two punctured tires to finish ninth today at the Honda Indy Toronto on the challenging 1.75-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit in Toronto, Canada.
Teammate Takuma Sato had an early race incident and finished 20th while Tony Kanaan, the third of the KVRT – Lotus drivers, was charging through the field when he became the victim of an incident while working lap three and finished 26th.
Viso, No. 59 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, had one of the most bizarre races of the season. Starting 18th he worked his way up to eighth, but an inopportune caution dropped him back to 19th after his first pit stop. Shortly thereafter he got his first tire puncture forcing him to pit. Another caution shortly thereafter allowed Viso to refuel twice before going back on the charge. He got as high as second and was running in third, and saving fuel, when he was hit and received his second puncture. Pitting for tires and fuel he rejoined the race in 18th place with 23 laps remaining in the 85-lap contest. Once again, Viso was on the move and with the help of some mistakes by other drivers fought his way back into the top-10, finishing ninth.
“It was a very up and down race,” Viso said. “I started at the back and made it to the front and then I had a puncture. I pitted and then started from the back again, made it to the front and had a pretty good strategy call to put me in to second position. I then got hit by Wilson which caused another left rear puncture. This put me to the back again and then I made it back into the top-10 finishing ninth. I believe we had a pretty good car especially with the black tires, with the red tires I think we still need to work a little harder. I am sure we will fix this for Edmonton and have a good race in two weeks.”
Viso scored 22 points today and is 20th in the standings with 135 points, 23 out 15th. The 26-year-old Venezuelan earned his third top-10 finish of the season (seventh and 10th at Texas), best on a street/road course (street/road course career-high is fourth at St. Petersburg in 2008, overall career-high, third in Iowa) and best finish in three races at Toronto. He has had competitive races on the street/road circuits this year, but a run of bad luck has prevented him from finishing in the top-10 until now (at St. Petersburg, punctured tire, Barber, hit by another competitor, Long Beach, attempted pass resulted in contact, Brazil, questionable blocking penalty).
Sato, No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, started 19th and was running in 18th when on lap eight he made contact with the back of another car while heading into a corner. The contact caused damage to his front wing and the left side front and rear suspension. After repairs were made, Sato returned to the race six laps off the pace. However, with caution flags flying regularly and cars routinely dropping out of the race, the team decided to continue to compete and take the opportunity to work on tire and fuel strategies for upcoming street and road events.
“I am disappointed,” Sato said. “It was a difficult race and there was so much going on out there I just got into the back of another car. By the time we repaired my car, I was six laps down, but with the way the race was going we thought we could pick up some positions and work on some things for the other street and road course races.”
Sato earned 12 points today and is now 14th in the standings with 167 points just six out of 10th. The 34-year-old from Japan has finished in the top-10 four times this season (IndyCar career-high fifths at St. Petersburg and Texas, eighths at Milwaukee and Brazil). In addition, he has earned his first pole (Iowa, the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar pole), led his first IndyCar race (at Brazil) and scored his first top-five finishes. Sato made his second appearance in Toronto (finished 25th last year). He has been strong on road and street circuits this year. In addition to the fifth at St. Petersburg and the eighth at Brazil, Sato had top-10 performances nullified by incidents at Barber and Long Beach.
Kanaan race was probably the most unfortunate of the three drivers. He qualified the No. 82 GEICO- KV Racing Technology – Lotus machine 16th, but was on the move from the drop of the green flag gaining four spots on the opening lap. On lap three, Kanaan was in 11th place when Ryan Briscoe attempt to pass. Kanaan moved over giving Briscoe plenty of room to the inside, but Briscoe could not make the pass clean and hit Kanaan squarely on the right side. The damage proved too extensive to repair ending Kanaan’s day.
“I gave Briscoe plenty of room and he still took me out, Kanaan said. “It was too early in the race to be doing stupid moves like that. I had a good car and was moving up the field. I guess I overtook four cars in the first lap, so I was going to the front. It’s a shame for the GEICO KV-Lotus guys.”
Kanaan earned 10 points today and is fifth in the championship race with 221 points just 11 out of fourth place. In 10 races this season (Texas two starts), he has finished in the top-10 six times with four top-five showings and two podiums (second at Iowa and third at St. Petersburg). The 36-year-old Brazilian, who made his seventh start at Toronto today, has finished in the top-10 twice here with a best showing of fourth last year. Kanaan has been extremely competitive on the road/street circuits this season finishing in the top-10 in three of the five races including the podium at St. Petersburg (sixth at Barber and eight in Long Beach).
Next up for KVRT – Lotus is Edmonton Indy, July 22-24, on the Edmonton City Centre Airport street circuit in Edmonton, Canada. The race will be broadcast live, Sunday, July 24 on Versus at 2:00 p.m. ET
TORONTO, CANADA – JULY 10, 2011