Graham Rahal says potential of RLLR convinced him to join for 2013
|By Mark Glendenning||Wednesday, November 14th 2012, 21:47 GMT|
Graham Rahal says that the potential in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team was the main spark behind his decision to join the team for the 2013 IndyCar season.
The team confirmed Rahal's multi-year deal today, bringing to an end the 23-year-old's two-season stint with Ganassi.
Rahal said that he looked forward to building upon what the team had achieved in 2012, when Takuma Sato made it onto the podium at Edmonton and Sao Paulo, and was in contention to win the Indianapolis 500 before crashing on the final lap.
"This is probably the most excited I have been to join any team," Rahal said.
"I see the potential behind what the team have been able to accomplish over the last year with Takuma, and knowing the development and other things that the team will now have the time to do to prepare for the season makes me more thrilled to be here."
Rahal last drove for the team co-owned by his father, three-time series champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby, at Indianapolis in 2010. He said that the timing was right for them to be reunited full-time.
"For me, it was about timing and making sure everything was right in order for it to happen," he explained.
"This has been years in the making, but it really took effect when my [contract] option was up on August 1. That's when we sat down and said, 'hey, this really does make the most sense'.
"Not only does it erase all the questions in my mind about knowing where I stand in terms of the pecking order and level of commitment from a team, but also the marketing and media side of it. Dad and I working together with Dave [Letterman] and Mike [Lanigan] and our sponsors has huge potential."
Bobby Rahal said that the pressure is on the team to deliver a car good enough to allow Graham to progress up the field.
"The last time Graham was the leader of the team was when he was with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in 2009," he said.
"For only a 20-year-old kid, he won a couple of poles, had a number of very good races, was very competitive and finished seventh in the championship.
"If we give him that level of focus I think he can do even better than that, so I am quite excited about the potential."
Rahal admitted ensuring the team is able to juggle the professional and family dynamics is a concern.
"The whole family dynamic [could] be great in one way and in another could be destructive," he said.
"Both of us have to make sure we treat each other with respect as professionals do. I think now is the right time; he's proven he belongs and has the respect of his peers, and that was the most important thing for me."
RLL is still hoping to add a second car for 2013, although Bobby Rahal said that such plans are still some way from being finalised.