RLLR will likely continue to keep the BMWs at the forefront in ALMS GT. The team’s new recruit Tom Anderson (BELOW) will endeavor to raise the IndyCar half of the team to similar prominence.
Rahal says. “Of course, we also were
committed to keeping our ALMS
program going strong.”
For the expansion, Anderson expects
to add 18 to 24 new full-time employees.
Newman/Haas Racing’s IndyCar exit
opens up a large pool of potential hires
at Rahal – a potential opportunity
Anderson doesn’t underestimate.
“One of the hardest parts of
assembling a new team is establishing
chemistry, and you really don’t see their
cohesive personality until you’re at the
track,” he explains. “It still wouldn’t be
Newman/Haas, but what I can try to do
is complement the existing structure at
Rahal and mirror its American Le Mans
Series success. I’m not trying to make
the team look like Fernandez, Ganassi or
Andretti. But the more guys I can grab
and bring in as a unit, the quicker the
IndyCar side will establish a personality.”
One of the team’s biggest changes is
that the IndyCar side will move from
Columbus, Ohio to Indianapolis, into
the race shop in Brownsburg occupied
initially by De Ferran Motorsport and,
later, Dragon Racing. That alone will
pay major dividends.
“You can do it outside [of Indiana],
“We’ve just dabbled the last couple
years on the IndyCar side...but
we’ve always wanted to be there”
but no two ways about it, it’s more expensive,” Anderson
admits. “It’s best to be within the heart of the community,
and certainly, Indiana and North Carolina have done a lot in
the tax structure to reduce the cost.”
Case in point: Dallara has provided a $150,000 discount on
each of its primary IndyCars to Indianapolis-based teams.
That’s a major enticement at a time when the sponsorship
climate remains far from healthy.
While Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s IndyCar program
has run only sporadically of late, the ALMS side has steadily
grown in status and scale for both Rahal as an organization
and BMW as a manufacturer. If anything, the 2011 season
confirmed the strength in partnership when Rahal as a team,
BMW as a manufacturer, and Joey Hand and Dirk Muller as
drivers all captured championships.
The team revised the suspension and rear end to make
its M3 fully compliant with ACO regulations going into last
season. Despite a midseason air restrictor reduction, BMW’s
power wasn’t cut too much – it remained the outright
fastest car in class and the comparison with the team’s 2010
campaign is an interesting one.
Although an RLLR BMW finished on the
podium in eight of nine 2010 rounds en
route to the team and manufacturer
titles, there was only one win. However,
while the excellent podium record
continued in 2011 with a BMW in the top
three in all races, there were three