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27 March 2010

KV Racing Technologiy's E. J. Viso qualifies 9th for Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

KV Racing Technology driver E. J. Viso qualified ninth for tomorrow’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Teammate Takuma Sato’s effort was hampered by a wheel gun malfunction. He will start 11th. Mario Moraes will grid 20th.

Viso, #8 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone, making his third appearance on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg temporary street circuit qualified with a fast lap of 61.9807 seconds (104.549). Viso will start on the inside of Row #5. Sato, who will be competing in just his second IndyCar race and first in the green and yellow Lotus livery, qualified with a lap of 62.4205 (103.812 mph) and will grid the #5 Lotus – KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone car on the inside of Row #6. Moraes, #32 KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone, also contesting his third race in St. Petersburg, will lineup on the outside of Row 10 after posting a qualifying lap of 62.8294 (103.136 mph).

Viso, who began the day sixth on the speed charts following yesterday’s twin practices, had an outstanding session prior to qualifying running the second fastest lap. In qualifying, the 25-year-old Venezuelan ran in Group #1 in Round #1 and posted the fifth quickest time of his 12-car group to advance into the second round. In round two he came up just a bit short.

“The qualifying session for the PDVSA – KV Racing Technology team didn’t go as well as we had shown in practice this morning,” Viso said. “However, we are in the top-10 and the race is long, so I think with a good strategy and car we will have a good race tomorrow.”

Viso, who will be competing in his 34th career IndyCar event, 15th on a road/street circuit and second with KVRT, earned his best started spot in three attempts at St. Petersburg (qualified 15th in 2008 and 16th in 2009). His best finish in St. Pete is a career high fourth in 2008 in his second IndyCar start.

Sato was seventh on the combined speed report after Friday’s practices. However, in morning practice he had a bit of a mishap. Working to gain speed in Turn #12 he hit the curb and slightly damaged his car. After some quick repairs, Sato finished the session with the 17th fastest lap. In qualifying, the 33-year-old from Japan ran in Group #2 in Round #1 and turned the fifth quickest time in his session to advance to Round #2. Unfortunately, a wheel gun malfunctioned and did not properly secure the right rear wheel nut so on the first lap of the second round the wheel came off causing a yellow. After an inspection of the car for damage and an equipment change Sato went back on track, but ran the fewest laps of the other 11 drivers and lost his fastest lap because the yellow flag.

“It was an eventful day for the Lotus – KV Racing team,” Sato said. “I wasn’t particularly happy with the balance of the car in the morning practice session and I hit the curb. In qualifying I was reasonably happy with the balance and was able to put the lap times together to move into the second round. However, in the second session I got a wheel related mechanical problem, which caused the wheel to come loose. After that we ran out of time to make to make the best use of the session. I was unable to put competitive lap times together with the little time I had left. We will work hard tonight and be ready for warm-up tomorrow and I still think that we will have a good race.

Moraes, who missed all of yesterday’s second practice after an incident, started the day 23rd on the speed charts. In morning practice he improved his time, but remained 23rd on the combined practice report. For qualifying, the 21-year-old Brazilian, who is the youngest full-time driver in the series, went out with Group #2 in Round #1 and logged the 10th fastest lap in his group.
Moraes, contesting his 34th career IndyCar race, 14th on a road/street circuit and 18th with KVRT, qualified 20th for the second consecutive year. His best finish on a road/street circuit is a fourth last year at Infineon Raceway and his best showing at St. Petersburg is 16th in 2008.

KVRT will be contesting its third race in St. Petersburg. In two previous events, three starts, they have a best qualifying position of second by Will Power in 2008 and a best finish of seventh by Oriol Servia 2008.