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18 April 2010

Moraes puts in stellar performance to finish sixth at Long Beach

Youngster Fights From 15th to 6th In Street Course Battle

Mario Moraes hadn’t sat in IndyCar for nearly five months during the winter, but the 21-year-old Brazilian is now showing that the break might have been beneficial.

Moraes, the youngest full-time driver on the IZOD IndyCar Series at age 21, turned in a spectacular drive Sunday in the 36th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach when he drove his No. 32 KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone car from 15th to sixth in the 85-lap feature event.

Moraes, who rejoined KVRT at the season opener in Sao Paulo, Brazil, didn’t have any pre-season testing with the team but has proven to be a contender following his impressive Long Beach performance. Starting 15th, Moraes, along with solid pit stops from his KVRT crew, battled his way around several title challengers to record his best 2010 finish.

Moraes fought by the likes of Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, Dan Wheldon, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves in a sensational run that saw Mario pass the most cars in the race. The addition of veteran engineer Iain Watt has been a major factor in Moraes’ strong performance. Watt joined KVRT before the Barber race last weekend.

Moraes’ KVRT teammates, E.J. Viso and Takuma Sato, recorded 15th and 18th place finishes respectively on the tough, narrow 1.968-mile, 11-turn circuit. Viso, driving the No. 8 PDVSA—KVRT Honda/Dallara/Firestone machine, moved as high as tenth from his 17th starting position. Sato, in his first Long Beach Grand Prix, had his No. 5 Lotus—KVRT Honda/Dallara/Firestone car hit from behind by Alex Lloyd, causing a spin. Sato returned to action to take the checkered flag.

Ryan Hunter-Reay won the event followed by Justin Wilson, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Moraes.

KVRT now travels to Kansas Speedway on May 1 for the Road Runner 300, the first oval race of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series.

Driver quotes:

Mario Moraws, #32 KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone, Finished 6th: “Since the start of the weekend, Iain (Watt, Moraes’ engineer) and I worked well together. It is just Iain’s second race with the team. Qualifying was disappointing. I thought we had a better car than 15th. In the race, I got a good start and tried to save fuel. It is very hard to save fuel on this circuit. We were able to use the tires well, and the car handled very good throughout the race. I am very happy for our KV team. Iain and I are learning about each other with every race. I am feeling more comfortable with him now. I am gaining more confidence with my driving too. I was able to make a move on Helio (Castroneves) on the restart in turn one. The car just felt good all day. Now, we move to straight four oval races and we need to work on that setup in the test this week at Kansas.”

E.J. Viso, #8 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone, Finished 15th: “It was a straight forward race so we couldn’t do much as far as strategy. It’s a shame because the car was balanced all through the race, but we just lacked a chunk of grip everywhere around the circuit. We will just have to keep working hard and I am confident that we will improve. But, right now the most important thing is to get ready for the oval in Kansas.”


Takuma Sato, #5 Lotus - KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone, Finished 18th: “It was a tough weekend. After qualifying Saturday, we made a number of changes to the car for this morning’s warm-up and it was a positive move. The race started solidly. We saved our tires and fuel to stretch our first stint. It was all setting up nicely, but in the second stint, Alex Lloyd came out of the pits on cold tires. He couldn’t stop and struck my car under braking, causing me to spin. That really ended my race because there was no full-course caution until the end. In all, it was a very disappointing and tough race, but it was another good learning experience for me. Next, we race in Kansas and my first oval test will be there this coming Friday. I am very excited to start my oval adventure.”

copyright text and images: KVRacing Technology