Indy Japan: The Final – Twin Ring Motegi, Tochigi, Japan
RACE NOTES/QUOTES – Sunday, September 18, 2011
TELEMUNDO DRIVER SERVIA FINISHED FIFTH AT THE INDY JAPAN: THE FINAL; SPROTT DRIVER HINCHCLIFFE FINISHED 15TH
Oriol Servia, No. 2 Telemundo Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "To finish fifth after starting 16th is a great result for the Telemundo team. It was important for the point standings because everyone we are fighting to stay in the top-five had a bad race. On the last restart we were fourth to Marco and I really wanted a podium but in trying to get third I fell back to fifth so I am just a little mad with myself because I didn't get it. I almost had it! We can definitely do better but we cannot complain overall after a top-five finish. On my out lap from the last pit stop, I tried to push and I put two tires on the sand and I feel that is what cost us a position to Marco on the final stop because we had a perfect pit stop, the guys did a great job. It was me trying to push but in Turn 4 I went off a little and although I haven't seen the reply, I have to guess that is what cost us the spot at that moment. The car was deserving of a fifth place but it was no challenge for Scott and (Will) Power but I think everyone else was in a similar boat. I wasn't super-happy with the balance but I could see cars around me that were really struggling. We came into Japan wanting to strengthen our championship point and we were able to do that. Now we are heading to two oval races where we have high hopes for strong races."
FAST FACTS: Was 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 397 (+45 on fifth place Kanaan).
James Hinchcliffe, No. 06 Sprott Dallara/Honda/Firestone: "On the start, I made a bit of a mistake and got into Turn 1 a little hot and got some understeer and unfortunately forced Helio out in the dirt. I really felt bad about that; it was my fault and it certainly made a long day for him. We managed to stay on track and (Charlie) Kimball got by us. We lost a couple of spots in Turn 1 but settled into a bit of a pace and then halfway through the first stint we started to lose the back end of the car and I was really struggling with rear grip and the lap times started falling off. We had a big line of cars behind us and I did my best to keep them behind me. Jakes got by and then Marco got by right before we pitted and then in the pit stop we unfortunately had a wheel nut pop out of the gun and, because I had been going so slow we had so many people stacked up behind us and it ended up costing us a lot of positions. When we went back on track we were on the primary black tires but we were now down with the guys who were running the alternate tire strategy that started on blacks and were now on red's (alternates) so we were sitting ducks a little bit because the balance wasn't great and we were on the slower tires so we fell back a bunch more which made for a very long second stint. On the third stint, the second pit stop was really good and we gained a spot or two. The car was a little bit better, we made some tire pressure adjustments and some wing adjustments which got the car a little more drivable but at the end of the day it was just such a handful. It was very unfortunate that we didn't capitalize on the strong qualifying performance. We got a little spooked after not feeling too good in the warmup and did a very uncharacteristic thing and made a big change to the car and unfortunately it was the wrong way to go. We dug ourselves our own grave today and its unfortunate when you have days like that."
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 270 points and is only 14 behind Rookie of the Year leader Hildebrand (284) after 14 of 15 events so far this season (did not compete in St. Pete).
NEXT UP... The series will take next weekend off while the racing equipment is flown back to the United States. The next race – Round 16 of 17 in the IZOD IndyCar Series -- will be the Kentucky Indy 300 on October 2.