Notes & Quotes: Kohler Grand Prix at Road America
Takuma Sato: No. 14 ABC Supply Honda
Jack Hawksworth: No. 41 ABC Supply Honda
Takuma Sato On:
• His first impression of Road America: “Road America is very impressive and a great fun track as expected. I’ve heard so many positive stories about Road America since I joined the IndyCar Series, and I know everyone and as well as the fans wanted IndyCar to go back there. So it was a nice experience that we had a great crowd show up at the test day last fall, and I had a lot of fun driving this superb track.”
• Whether RA resembles any tracks in Europe: “A little bit but not necessarily. If anything is similar, it is as fast as I experienced at possibly Imola [outside of Bologna, Italy]. Both tracks are the classic narrow type of track but very fast with good elevation change.”
• Whether the new aero kit will make much difference vs. last year’s test: “I think it’s not hugely different but sure there is some. We learned a lot at the test but it was last year's car and there are quite a few things that have changed both mechanically and aerodynamically. Especially we need to learn how the low downforce package is going to work which we haven’t been able to try. We were going to go to the test after Texas race but preparation time for it became too tight as the race was delayed due to weather, so we will need to maximize our practice time on race weekend to ensure our set-up has made a good progress since the last test.”
• The most challenging aspect of the circuit: “For the drivers, you need a lot of commitment because there are so many fast corners. From an engineering perspective, you need a good stable car through the high speed sections and performance under braking with such a low downforce car.’
• The Road America bratwurst: “I know it’s famous in Wisconsin so I must try it!”
Jack Hawksworth On:
• His first impression of Road America: “I love the Road America, it's very quick, has a variety of corners and is the only track we go to that is over four miles in length. I had a fantastic time racing there in 2014 made even better by the fact that I had a very quick car.” Note: Hawksworth, teamed with Chris Cumming, started 13th overall (2nd in the PC class) and finished 12th overall (4th in the PC class), driving the RSR Racing ORECA FLM09.
• The difference driving the IndyCar vs the sports car he drove in 2014: “The Indycar has a lot more grip and downforce so certainly braking will be later and the corner speeds higher. It'll just be a case of adapting to the car and putting it on the limit. In terms of passing, it should in theory be easier as we have the push-to-pass system in Indycar racing.”
• What he liked about the circuit: “Road America has a lot of character, and it is technical like other road courses yet it still allows for a lot of passing and action due to the length of some of the straights and the big braking zones.”
• The most challenging aspect of this circuit: “There is nothing particular that stands out, it's all challenging in its own way. We will be starting on the back foot a little [note: the team didn’t test there as planned] but we have the people and ideas to make progress and hopefully be there by qualifying.”
• Whether he has tried the Road America bratwurst: “Nope... It's swimsuit season!”
Neither Takuma Sato nor Jack Hawksworth has raced Indy cars at Road America: Sato tested his No. 14 ABC Supply Honda at the track last fall. Hawksworth did not test an Indy car at RA. However, he competed in a WEC race at the 4-mile circuit in 2014. Teamed with Chris Cumming, Hawksworth started 13th overall (2nd in the PC class) and finished 12th overall (4th in the PC class), driving the RSR Racing ORECA FLM09. The Foyt team’s plan to test on June 15th was thwarted by the one day rain delay at Texas Motor Speedway June 11-12. There wasn’t enough time to return to the Waller shop, turn the cars around for the road course and arrive on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s test given the 1250-mile trip from Waller to Elkhart Lake.
A.J. Foyt returns to Road America after 21 years: Foyt’s last trip to Road America was in 1995 when his car was running in the CART IndyCar Series. In his team’s eight races there, the best start was eighth with Robby Gordon in 1993, and their best finish was eighth with Mike Groff in 1991. Foyt had the second best finish of 10th in 1988. He sustained severe injuries to his feet and legs in September, 1990 when the brakes failed on his Lola at the end of the front straight and he sailed into a dirt embankment. He spent the next eight months recovering but made it to his then 34th straight Indy 500.