KV Racing Technology has announced that Takuma Sato and EJ Viso will both return to contest the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season for the Lotus-affiliated team.
Co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser confirmed the deals, welcoming both pilots back for the their second season with the team.
“We are very excited to have 'Taku' and EJ back with us for 2011," Vasser said, "The fact that both drivers are returning for their second year with the team gives us continuity in the cockpit. I believe that having a second season with the same driver and engineer combinations will be beneficial to our team and will produce some very positive results.”
Sato will again pilot the #5 KV Racing Technology–Lotus Dallara-Honda as he looks to build on a tough debut campaign. The veteran of seven F1 seasons, 'Taku' had minimal testing and had never driven an IndyCar or any of the circuits prior to the 2010 season, but earned one top-ten finish with ninth at Edmonton. The 34-year old - one of the most recognised motorsport stars in Japan - qualified in the top-ten eight times, reaching the Firestone Fast Six on three occasions with a best starting position of third at Mid-Ohio. His top oval finishes came in the final two races of the season including a best showing at Twin Ring Motegi in his native Japan.
“I am very excited to be driving for KV Racing Technology-Lotus for a second year,” 'Taku' said, “This is a team with tremendous potential. Everyone back in the shop worked really hard to push the performance up over the winter, so I am very motivated and ready to challenge in my second IndyCar season. I want to thank all my sponsors for their support and look forward to sharing success together very soon.”
Viso, meanwhile, will be back behind the wheel of the #8 PDVSA–backed KVRT–Lotus entry, with additional support from Herbalife, CANTV, SBA Airlines and team partner Plantronics. The 25-year old Venezuelan will be contesting his fourth IndyCar season having run in the top-five and earned his first career podium finish - a third at Iowa - during his first season with the team. He also led eight laps at St Petersburg before retiring with a mechanical problem, and qualified in the top-ten five times, making the Firestone Fast Six at Edmonton.
“I am really happy to be back with KV Racing Technology,” Viso said, “Last year was very successful, even if the results don't necessarily show it. We worked very hard to develop the car and I think we showed we could be competitive. I believe the progress we made last year combined with the continuity we have with personnel will be a key to our success in 2011."
The coming season will also be the second of the partnership between KVRT and Lotus, which expects to ramp up its IndyCar involvement to eventually become a major player when the new technical rules come in for 2012.
“For us last year was all about learning, this year we would really like to achieve some podium finishes – we want to start to contest with some of the frontrunners," Lotus director of motorsport Claudio Berro, confirmed, “What we're doing with IndyCar is very similar to the way we tackle all our race involvement, first we test the water with an established team, we then explore ways in which to expand our involvement – increasing our commitment to KVRT is one such step as is our intention to supply engine and aero body kits from 2012 onwards.”
Remaining with KVRT for 2011 gives Viso a chance to become involved with Lotus and the youngster is clearly excited by the opportunity.
"I am very excited about becoming a part of the history of Lotus racing," he concluded, "Looking towards 2012, when we have the new chassis and engine rules, I think having a strong relationship with Lotus will benefit the entire team and will be important for the future.”