IndyCar: Rahal hails new NOLA circuit, new RLL engineering group


After his first day at the NOLA Motorsports Park circuit on Tuesday where he completed 91 laps, Graham Rahal took the opportunity to praise what he feels will be one of if not the fastest road courses on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

“It is fast. It’s gonna be a cool place to race,” Rahal said in an interview with 1070 The Fan’s “Trackside” program in Indianapolis, with NBCSN IndyCar pit reporter Kevin Lee and the Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin.

“(Juan Pablo) Montoya and I were talking. He was struggling to hold his head up end of the day. It’s a physical place. It should be the highest average speed of any road course we do. The Indy GP may or may not be there.”

Rahal, who raced at the old Edmonton and whose father Bobby was a regular winner at the old Cleveland airport courses, compared the track to both of those in that its wide-open nature will allow fans to see all of the circuit at once.

“There is a lot of grip in the surface,” he said. “There’s good top speed. The front straight is very bumpy. So it will be hard to manage that.

“It should be a great show. You can see everything. Every corner you can see from one spot. They’re building grandstands. You can literally see all 13 corners, no problem.”

Rahal didn’t give away any details on the new manufacturer aero kits other than to call the Honda kit “extremely radical looking.”

He did, however, take the opportunity to reflect upon the new engineering staff in place for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2015. Rahal will work with engineer Eddie Jones, Mike Talbott on vehicle dynamics program and Martin Pare, head of the vehicle ride control development program.

“We take responsibility for everything… but it was a difficult working environment (last year),” Rahal said. “Dad felt it was very important to take it into his hands and make a difference.

“After 2013, we threw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and hope it stuck… and we were worse off. We rebooted. I haven’t worked with Eddie directly, but he was good with (James) Jakes. Martin was my lead engineer at Newman/Haas. Mike Talbott worked with me at Newman/Haas, and then went to HPD.

“All of these guys have worked together before which is the key. I’ve had relaitonships with all of them. Finally the guys wrenching on the car have a smile on their face.”

Rahal seeks to improve upon a 19th place finish in the 2014 standings, with a single second place at Detroit his best result.