Surfers all new for Rahal
Graham Rahal arrived in the Australian playground of Surfers Paradise today ahead of this weekend's Lexmark 300, the street race on the Gold Coast that has established itself as one of the top sporting occasions in the country.
Eighteen-year-old Rahal will be debuting at the event this season in his first year of running with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in the Champ Car World Series. Although unfamiliar with the street course of the downtown Surfers Paradise Rahal is undaunted by the challenge ahead.
"I've done as much preparation as I can" says Rahal. "We've gone through all the pre-race documentation and data simulations, I've watched tapes of previous races and it's one of the tracks that I've been able to play on a computer game, which is fairly realistic of the circuit. I've also focused on my physical fitness, preparing for the hot conditions which we expect. However, the most important preparation is ahead - walking the track and getting behind the wheel for the practice sessions."
Three days of acclimatization precedes Rahal's' return to the cockpit and he'll be using this time to meet with the team for the final pre-race briefing sessions and track familiarization, as well as taking part in a number of event promotional activities for the local Champ Car fans and media.
Walking the local beach, enjoying the Surfers Paradise climate, Rahal says of his prospects for the weekend, "It's been a while since I've been racing in my Champ Car, but we've had a few long gaps this season so it's not new. I think it also makes everyone a little more pumped up for the race weekend, particularly this one. There's already a great atmosphere and the whole town is preparing for a big Champ Car race weekend. That makes it even more exciting, particularly as it is so different from the venues that we go to in the States."
"I'm against many drivers with experience of this track, but that's not new to me and I'm with a team which has a history of success here, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be running up front and pushing for the top step of the podium. Hopefully Seb will be able to wrap up the championship as well. All in all, we're looking to have a good weekend of racing down under. I know the heat will be on when we take the green flag on Sunday."
Rahal is currently fifth in the Champ Car World Series standings with two races left on the calendar and he lies second in the rookie of the year standings. The Lexmark 300 event in Surfers Paradise is the penultimate round of this year's championship, with the finale taking place at Mexico City on November 11.