Indy Japan: The Final – Twin Ring Motegi, Tochigi, Japan
QUALIFYING NOTES/QUOTES – Saturday, September 17, 2011
SPROTT DRIVER HINCHCLIFFE EARNED HIS BEST ROAD COURSE START OF FIFTH FOR THE INDY JAPAN: THE FINAL; TELEMUNDO DRIVER SERVIA TO START 16TH
POLE: Scott Dixon 1:38.3918 / 109.143 mph (Round 3)
5th: James Hinchcliffe 1:38.9226 / 108.558 mph (Round 3)
16th: Oriol Servia 1:38.7719 / 108.723 mph (Round 1; eighth fast)
Oriol Servia, No. 2 Telemundo Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "We had the speed but I messed up and am very mad at myself. The whole day was really good. I was really, really happy with the team, the improvements we made to the Telemundo car and with my driving – everything. The morning was looking very good and qualifying was too. My first lap was good for the first lap and on my second lap I was only two corners from the Start/Finish line and I already had a good enough lap to be in the top-six; I was two-and-a-half tenths faster which would have easily put me there. I braked too late and locked the front tires up and it flat spotted the tire completely; it was gone. I screwed up and I am very upset because the last few road courses I haven't qualified that well for one reason or another and today we really had the speed. We were only two corners from completing the lap. That being said, it does not mean we cannot have a great race tomorrow like we have been. There are a little more opportunities for passing then say Sonoma, still it is going to be difficult to pass but we have a fast car and it is a lot easier when you do. We can definitely have a good Sunday and we need it for the points."
FAST FACTS: Will be his fifth race here, first on the road course and SECOND overall in Japan with NHR. In 2000 he competed in only his third oval race as a rookie in CART's headline series where he started 13th and finished 24th with PPI Motorsports. In 2001 he started 18th and finished 14th with Sigma Autosport. In 2002 he started 20th and finished sixth with PWR Championship Racing. In 2009, the Japan race was one of four in which he ran with NHR. He was third in the late stages of the race but was passed by teammate Graham Rahal and finished fourth...Servia, a native of Catalonia, Spain, has made 30 starts for NHR which include his first Indy car win (Montreal 2005) and pole (Surfers Paradise, Australia 2005) as well as a total of TEN top-three finishes...In 2005, Servia replaced NHR driver Bruno Junqueira, who suffered a season-ending injury at the Indy 500 on May 29, and then went on to finish second to teammate Sebastien Bourdais in the point standings after 11/13 events with the team. Servia returned to NHR in 2009 for four races with a season-best finish of fourth at Twin Ring Motegi...Best start of the 2011 season is 2nd place in New Hampshire and best finish is 2nd place in New Hampshire and Baltimore...Is FOURTH in series point standings with 367.
James Hinchcliffe, No. 06 Sprott Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "The first practice wasn't super-smooth this morning. I went off on my first run and bent something on the car and it pretty much took the rest of the session to fix it. We only got back out to bed some brakes before the session was over so we didn't get as much work done as we hoped and I was really hoping that didn't put us too far behind the eight ball. In the second practice we sort of got back on track on our plan and made some good gains and ended up in a pretty good spot (P1) so we were confident going into qualifying. I know we were quickest in the last practice but I don't think we were expecting quite the same performance in qualifying because not everybody got good runs on new tires in that session. Then we got into qualifying and we drew the hard group again -- there is no doubt about that -- so it was going to be difficult to try to advance. The car on the red tires was really good. Its always a guess when you are putting on red tires for the first time but Craig (Hampson; race engineer) and everybody really nailed it because the car felt very quick right away. The balance was the best it's been all weekend so that was a relief and we got into Round 2. We found a nice chunk of time there and got into the Firestone Fast Six. From there we had done as few of laps as anybody on our tires but decided to save the better set for the race because we probably weren't going to be in contention for pole so we opted for a more worn set for the Fast Six and came away with fifth which is something we are pretty happy with. Starting up front is always important in these races and I think being on the inside is going to be important for the start. I would probably rather be fifth than fourth to be honest so we'll see how it all plays out in the first lap. It looks like its going to be a tough track to pass but a good starting position helps and you are running up there with the pros so there is less likelihood of incidents. We're just looking forward to a good consistent race, no mistakes and we will just try to bring it home a good result."
FAST FACTS: Earned his highest road/street course start of the season with fifth place in his first race at Twin Ring Motegi and in Japan in general...Toronto native Hinchcliffe, 24, finished second in the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season standings after three wins and four poles. In total he earned eight podium finishes in 13 races... His highest road/street course start of the season is seventh at Mid-Ohio and highest road/street finish of fourth at Long Beach. Is ranked 16th with a total of 255 points and is only three behind Rookie of the Year leader Hildebrand (258) after 13 of 14 events so far this season (did not compete in St. Pete).
1 WIN, 3 PODIUMS IN 7 MOTEGI EVENTS FOR NHR: In total the team has earned 1 WIN (Mi. Andretti 2000), and 3 PODIUMS (3rd- Rahal 2009, Fittipaldi 1999) here – all on the oval. The team was a contender for the win other times (chart available).
TUNE-IN... The Indy Japan: The Final race will be broadcast live on Saturday, September 17th at 11:30 p.m. EDT – both on Versus. The radio broadcast also will be carried on www.indycar.com As always, fans can follow the action from every on-track session via the official website of the IZOD IndyCar Series, www.indycar.com