2009 IRL Team Reports: Rahal/Letterman Racing

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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2009 IRL Team Reports: Rahal/Letterman Racing

Postby mlittle » Fri May 15, 2009 1:01 am

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING TO TEAM UP WITH VETERAN ORIOL SERVIA FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500

HILLIARD, Ohio (May 13, 2009) -- A veteran racing team with thousands of miles of experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will partner with a veteran driver with thousands of miles behind the wheel, as Rahal Letterman Racing and Oriol Servia will team up for the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

Sponsored by DAFCA, a company dedicated to protecting the supply chain of micro electronic goods from acts of cyber terrorism through utilization of DAFCA's revolutionary "in chip" process - that detects counterfeiting and system tampering at speed, in system, and in field, and prevents reverse engineering -- the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry will mark the team's 12th year of competing in the Memorial Day Classic, which takes place on May 24.

"We have worked very hard all year in order to put this program together for the Indianapolis 500 and we feel like we have a package that will allow us to go to Indy and perform well," said RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal. "The team's experience, combined with a veteran talent like Oriol, should give us everything we need to be competitive throughout the event. We are extremely pleased to welcome DAFCA to the RLR family and look forward to giving DAFCA a great experience in their first visit to Indy."

"DAFCA believes that the Rahal Letterman team embodies the same sort of competitive zeal and ethical stature to which DAFCA aspires in its business affairs; it's a very good fit for us," states DAFCA Chairman, Jim Kelley.

Rahal Letterman Racing is no stranger to success at Indianapolis. The team scored its first Indy 500 victory in 2004 when Buddy Rice won the race from the pole, and an RLR car was the fastest qualifier in the race in 2005 with Kenny Brack. The team won Indy 500 Rookie-of-the-Year honors with Danica Patrick in '05 and in 2008 with Ryan Hunter-Reay and has scored five consecutive top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500.

Servia also has a long resume of success behind the wheel, with 39 top-five finishes in 142 open-wheel starts. The 1999 Indy Lights champion made his first Indy 500 start last season and performed well, charging from 25th on the starting grid to finish on the lead lap and in 11th place. He finished ninth in the IndyCar Series point standings a year ago in his first season in that series, but this year's Indy 500 will be his first start of the 2009 season.

"Sometimes being stubborn is not such a bad thing," Servia said. "I had a great season last year and I feel I am at the top of my game. Although the season started without me having a ride I knew that if I was patient enough something good would happen. I am really excited to announce this opportunity I have been given to participate in the greatest race in the world with one of the best teams in open wheel history. I have raced many years against the Rahal Letterman team and makes me very proud to be finally part of it. I am sure that together our focused efforts will make a very successful experience. I am also very pleased to be part of DAFCA's first journey into the Indianapolis 500 and make it fast, secure and accomplished as the company itself stands for."
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Postby mlittle » Fri May 15, 2009 3:21 pm

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING IS SEVENTH-QUICKEST ON ITS FIRST DAY OF INDY PRACTICE

INDIANAPOLIS - Rahal Letterman Racing made its first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, and made a big splash right out of the gate as the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special and driver Oriol Servia finished seventh overall after its first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500.

Despite not having turned a single lap in the RLR Indy Car, Servia's quickest speed of 221.353 mph around the 2.5-mile oval not only put him seventh on the overall list, it was the fastest of any driver that has yet to qualify for the 500-mile event that will run on May 24.

"When you are driving for Rahal Letterman, you better step on it," Servia grinned. "They won this race in 2004, and honestly, the car felt great the moment I stepped into it. That makes the driver's job a lot easier. It's only our first day. Hopefully, we have another dry day tomorrow, so we can prepare for qualifying and just keep the focus on the last lap of a 500-mile race. It's probably the most important race of my life, so I'm very happy with the way things have started."

The Rahal Letterman Racing squad spent much of the day concentrating on its race-day setups for the car, and were pleased right out of the gate as Servia was up to anticipated race pace after just a fistful of laps. After going through a number of changes during the day, the team trimmed the car a little bit to check the balance, and Servia and the old-school blue #17 DAFCA machine instantly vaulted into the 221-mph range.

"The day went exactly like we planned, and for the first day out I'm not sure that it could have gone much better," said RLR VP of Operations Scott Roembke. "Oriol is a real pro, knows exactly what he wants out of the car and we were all pleased that our crew had put together such a good car. We focused on our race setup for most of the day and we feel real good about our chances going into the weekend."

Servia and the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special are preparing for Saturday's final round of qualifying, where the 23rd through 33rd spots on the starting grid will be determined. The first 22 spots were set through qualifying last weekend, while Servia and his RLR teammates bided their time, waiting for the second week to show their hand.

"Everyone has been asking me today if there's any pressure being a last-week, and reduced program," admitted Servia. "I haven't felt this relieved in a long time. Finally I am in a car and I know I'm going to be in the race. I'm in a great team and there are great people around me. I feel great right away from the first lap. We want to take one step at a time, but right now, I'm really excited and happy."
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Postby mlittle » Sat May 16, 2009 10:42 am

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING IS SEVENTH-FASTEST FOR SECOND STRAIGHT DAY AT INDY

INDIANAPOLIS - Seven is considered a lucky number in many circles, but luck has had little to do with Rahal Letterman Racing locking down the seventh spot in the practice results for each of the last two days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special with Oriol Servia behind the wheel again ended its day by carding the seventh-best time for next Sunday's Indianapolis 500 as Friday's practice saw Servia stop the clocks at 40.6982 seconds (221.140 mph) on his best lap of the day. The veteran driver turned 61 laps around the 2.5-mile speedway today, with his fastest trip around the facility coming on his final stint of the afternoon.

The day's session marked the last full day of practice before this weekend's qualifying runs set the final 33-car field for the May 24 Memorial Day classic. The team will look to put the car in the race during tomorrow's qualifying session and then wait for Sunday's Bump Day festivities to set the final grid.

Servia will be looking to earn the second Indianapolis 500 start of his racing career, having had a strong run in his rookie outing a year ago as he finished on the lead lap in the 11th position. After setting a strong time in Thursday's practice in Rahal Letterman Racing's first practice of the season, Servia reports that his mindset changed on Friday from being happy to be here to being happy to search for speed.

"Another great day at the speedway. Yesterday I was happy to finally be in a race car, today I was happy to be doing my job which is to make it a fast one," Servia said. "We continued working with the car following all the steps we had on our day plan. The car is behaving exactly as we expected so we hope to continue our path and tomorrow be able to qualify a fast car early on and go back to race setup for the rest of the day. Really happy with the crew and the progress made and I am looking forward to a great day tomorrow!"

The Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special, which carries a distinctive blue-and-white paint scheme that evokes memories of the vaunted Gurney Eagles of the mid 1960s, has been running along with the powerbrokers of the IndyCar Series despite having just two days of practice to its credit. The steady hand and heavy right foot of the veteran Servia and the work of the experienced RLR crew has team co-owner Bobby Rahal hopeful for good things as qualifying approaches.

"Things have gone about as good as we could have hoped for this week," said Rahal. "Our guys have done a great job in getting the car ready and Oriol has stepped in and gotten it up to speed straight away. If things continue to go as they have in the first two days, we will be in shape to do well on race day."
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Postby mlittle » Thu May 21, 2009 7:18 am

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING AND ORIOL SERVIA SNARE NINTH-ROW SPOT FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500

INDIANAPOLIS - Oriol Servia waited all day Saturday to take his fastest four laps of 2009, so he figured he had better make them count. After morning-long rains kept cars off of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway surface, Servia rolled out in the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special with just an hour left in the day's qualifying session, which provisionally set the final 11 positions in the 33-car field for next Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

Just 10 high-speed miles later, Servia and the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special had punched its ticket for the May 24 Memorial Day classic, making four trips around the Brickyard at an average speed of 220.984 mph. The effort earned the Rahal Letterman Racing machine the 25th spot in the field and established Servia as the third-quickest qualifier of the day.

Servia will make the second Indianapolis 500 start of his career, and will again take the green flag from the 25th spot as he did as a rookie one year ago. He had a good day in the 2008 Indy 500, coming from the ninth row to finish 11th while completing all 200 laps.

"I jumped in the car Thursday, and it felt great and we're in the race. The car, it felt great right away. I'm very hopeful that we can bring the car to the front on Sunday," Servia said. "The (RLR) won it in '04. They have many years of experience, so they know what they are doing. It's no secret. It's been a great week. I've been working for many months to A, get the car going for the season and B, be here. Finally, with Rahal Letterman we were able to put it together, and I'm very pleased. When I jumped in the car Thursday, it felt great right away. It really helps to be with good people."

Servia had to wait all day to take his qualifying laps, so he didn't waste time getting up to speed, running his quickest lap of 221.532 mph on the first of his four qualifying passes. He slotted in to the 25th spot and felt safely in the field, but pulses quickened when Sunday weather yielded higher speeds than Saturday, leaving many drivers vulnerable.

The improved weather conditions saw Saturday's last row swept aside quickly by Sunday runs, which sparked many other the drivers solidly in the tenth row to withdraw their Saturday times in favor of quicker runs. The #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special held fast to its Saturday speed and was rewarded by clinching the 25th spot, but the final run of the day saw the car qualified 26th, just behind Servia, get bumped out of the field.

"The team was ready to go back on track if it would have been necessary, but thankfully the team's performance on Saturday was good enough to make it hold up," said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. "The Indianapolis 500 is a long, long race. Anything can happen. We have a great package with Oriol in our DAFCA-sponsored car and we'll keep our nose clean, keep in touch with the field and put ourselves in position to have a shot at the end."

Teams will have an hour of practice from 11:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. Friday morning to make any final adjustments to the car, as Friday's Carb Day is the last on-track action until the green flag falls over the 2009 Indianapolis 500 at 1:00 p.m.
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Postby mlittle » Tue May 26, 2009 10:27 am

RAHAL LETTERMAN RACING INDY CHARGE BLUNTED BY FUEL PRESSURE WOES

INDIANAPOLIS - Oriol Servia's charge through the Indianapolis 500 field was almost too good to be true as the driver of the #17 Rahal Letterman Racing DAFCA Special needed just 97 laps to storm from 25th to ninth.

But happens normally when things appear too good to be true, things went bad in hurry as a failure with the fuel pump feeding Ethanol to the team's Honda powerplant stopped the car in its tracks. Servia had just moved into ninth place, owing to Tony Kanaan's crash, but as he described it, 'the car just shut off like someone threw a switch'.

The engine stopped running on the backstretch of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, leaving Servia to coast back to the pits as the RLR squad waited to diagnose the problem. The team quickly diagnosed the problem and tried a couple of remedies before discovering that the problem was terminal.

"The car was really good and I was faster than most of the people around me all day," Servia said. "I was just waiting on the race to play out but I honestly felt that we had a car that could win the race. Everything was going according to plan. The car was amazing."

It didn't take long for Servia to show that he would be a force in the 200-lap race. After a Lap Seven restart caused by an early incident between Mario Moraes and Marco Andretti, Servia started climbing to the front. Having started 25th, Servia had gained six spots after just nine laps. He kept moving through the first quarter of the race, and had slipped into 15th by Lap 50. Strong work on a Lap 61 pitstop moved Servia up to 11th by Lap 75 and he eased into the top 10 with a strong pass to the outside of Paul Tracy on Lap 92. But everything was erased just five laps later and the team ended up being credited with a 26th-place finish.

"Well, they knew we were here today," said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. "I am very proud of what this team and Oriol accomplished this month and this should serve as proof to any sponsor and any partner that Rahal Letterman Racing is a strong racing organization and always puts together a competitive race effort."

The run was the second at Indianapolis for Servia, coming on the heels of an 11th-place finish a year ago. For Rahal Letterman Racing, the finish snaps a streak of five consecutive seasons with a top-ten finish in the Indianapolis 500.

"I have to thank Bobby, Dave, DAFCA and the whole team for putting this together this month," Servia said. "We had a great car. We were running 10th and moving forward. We were fast and the car was a pleasure to drive. I was having my dream race out there today."
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