Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Takuma Sato: No. 14 ABC Supply Honda

Jack Hawksworth: No. 41 ABC Supply Honda

TAKUMA SATO ON:

Physicality of Barber track: “Barber is one of the toughest tracks physically in the calendar, simply because it’s a high-speed track, and has lots of long high-G corners compared to the other road courses. It’ll be really physically demanding. With the new aero kits generating more downforce, as you witness we have been quicker at all of the tracks we visit, I’m sure we will see this race is a seriously physical one.”

Passing Zones: “Probably not much has changed there. Even though you have more downforce now, following the other cars is not necessarily easy. In fact it’s pretty hard because all the wings and bodywork are more aero-efficient so any turbulence upsets the airflow which means you lose downforce.  Having said that, Honda designed the bodywork which minimizes the effect of losing downforce when you follow a car, so let’s hope we will be in good shape in traffic.”

Most enjoyable part of going to Barber: “The high-speed corners with good elevation changes. This is really a beautiful track and it’s dynamic so I enjoy going fast there. And don’t forget to go to the museum! It’s also another one of the best car and motorbike museums in the country. It is very impressive especially as it’s privately owned.”

Focusing on aero or mechanical grip: “You will always need a good mechanical grip but at Barber there is more weight on aero. The track surface is smooth and very fast so it is quite an aero-dominant track. Barber is the type of track that you go fast with a more aero-efficient car.”

Key to success at Barber: “As described above, you need to get the aero right without sacrificing mechanical grip too much, and then it’s really important to have a good qualifying run as it’s very difficult to overtake.”


JACK HAWKSWORTH ON:

His feelings about Barber: “I have a love/hate relationship with this track. I have won and been on the podium here three times in the junior formula but I've also had some pretty tough days where I've just not been on the pace. It's one of the trickiest circuits on the calendar for drivers and engineers. Nailing the set-up is a big challenge, if you hit it right then there are not many more enjoyable circuits to drive, but if you are out to lunch, it'll be a long afternoon!”

Key to a competitive car at Barber: “We had a positive test here prior to the opening race of the year and we learned a lot at the recent NOLA race which was the last permanent road course we went to. Understanding why we were competitive at the test and also why we weren't competitive at NOLA should give us a good understanding of where we need to go with the set up and the best way to react to the changing track conditions throughout the weekend.”

Best place to pass: “Turn 5 is the prime overtaking spot at Barber. It's not easy and you need to have a good car off Turns 2 and 3 to allow for a good run through the kink and into the braking zone in 5. It's possible to pass in other places but it's very difficult and it usually involves the car ahead making a mistake.”

Physicality of Barber: “Barber has some quick turns with a lot of compression so it will certainly be tougher than the tracks we've been to so far this year. The Turns 12, 13, 14, and 15 works the drivers pretty hard.”

Texas or ‘Bama Barbecue: “Texas, purely on the basis I've not tried Barbecue in Alabama! Maybe I'll give it a go if we have a good weekend!”

Kinnucan’s, Specialty Outfitter, headquartered in Auburn, Ala. has signed as an associate team sponsor for the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana. Started in 1987 by Charles Anthony Kinnucan as a running footwear company, Kinnucan’s expanded its product selection over the past 20 years to include cold and warm weather apparel, sunglasses, collegiate goods and women’s fashion. Kinnucan’s now has 13 locations across four states: Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee.

Race Report: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif. April 19—Lessons learned. After the carnage and the multiple yellow flags that flew in the first two races in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the drivers showed today that they can race fast and furious--and keep the bumping and debris to a minimum. Just one caution period (laps 5-8) slowed the 80-lap race around the 1.9-mile downtown Long Beach street course.

That was the good news. The bad news was that the ABC Supply Hondas could have used a couple more caution periods to make their alternate fuel strategy work since they were starting deep in the field for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

With Jack Hawksworth starting 16th in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda and Takuma Sato two rows behind in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, the team used an alternate pit strategy but needed a race with a few cautions periods to make it work. Both drivers pitted during the first caution to shed the primary compound tires and put on the faster alternate compound (aka red-rimmed) Firestones.

When the pace setters ducked into the pits on lap 29, Hawksworth took the lead and Sato was in pursuit until they pitted on laps 33 and 32 respectively. When the pit stops cycled out, they were in 14th and 15th position—which were their positions before they pitted. Pitting again on laps 52 (Sato) and 54, they ran nose to tail for nearly the rest of the race.

Hawksworth, who finished 14th said, “It was a tricky race, and we thought there were going to be more yellows than there were. The strategy was good but we just didn’t quite have the speed today so we’ll come back at Barber next week and have another go at it.”

Unfortunately for Sato, there was a miscalculation on fuel and his car sputtered on the final corner of the race. He coasted to the checkered, losing three spots, and finished 18th.

“Our tough weekend continues,” Sato said with a smile, noting, “but we finally had a good feeling of the car in the morning warmup today. The car’s potential was there before qualifying but we weren’t able to show the performance then due to the red flag which cut short qualifications. We were in the top 10 in this morning’s practice and had a positive feeling about the speed. I was optimistic for the race even though we had to start at the back. We had a good plan but there weren’t many yellows today, so not many chances to gain a lot of positions. At the end, we had a calculation problem on the fuel. I had to give up some positions as well as try to bring the car home. On the very last corner when I accelerated, it started coughing so I coasted to the checkered in neutral. The boys worked hard on the car all weekend and it’s just a shame we couldn’t produce a good result today.”