Following Tuesday's announcement that she'll be making her return to the IZOD IndyCar Series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, rookie Pippa Mann sat down to talk about the deal, team, sponsors, tracks, and more.
16th And Georgetown: We Welcome IZOD IndyCar Series rookie, 20th place finisher in the Indianapolis 500 and newly named Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver, Pippa Mann. Pippa, thanks for coming on, how are you?
Pippa Mann: I'm good thank you. Obviously I'm pretty excited at the moment and slightly hyper-active and jumping around, but other than that I'm good!
16th>: That's good. That's the first question, just yesterday you guys announced that you'll be driving at New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Vegas in the #30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry, can you just give us a little background on how the program got put together?
PM: Well, I think the first thing I have to do actually is kind of go a step backwards and just give a huge thank you again, actually all the way back to Conquest Racing who fielded the car for me at Indy because without them and without me having the opportunity to try and qualify a time at Indy and getting out there and getting my name out there who knows whether this would of all happened. Since the race, in the UK my profile has risen dramatically. Now when we're talking to sponsors they actually know who I am, and it raised my profile among the teams as well, which was absolutely fantastic.
Bobby (Rahal) got in touch with us and we returned his interest and got in touch with him and things just came together.
16th>: With Rahal your going to be driving for a very competitive team that's won races, for any driver but especially for a rookie like yourself, that has to be a confidence builder.
PM: It's extremely exciting, I can't tell you. I'm obviously hoping to try and get into the IndyCar Series full-time in 2012 and Rahal Letterman Langian has made absolutely no secret of the fact that they would love to be back full-time as well. There a great team and I think they deserve to be back full-time.
So we're doing these three races. Loudon is going to be a tough place for me to do my first race, but then we get right back into my comfort zone. Kentucky where I won last year and then on to Vegas which I hear is a similar track to Chicagoland. I just can't wait. I'm really looking forward to it.
16th>: You just mentioned the three tracks. You obviously have New Hampshire and Vegas which really haven't been on the schedule for a while and will really be pretty much new to everybody in the series, at least driver wise. And then you obviously have Kentucky where you sat on pole and then won at last year in the Firestone Indy Lights Series. What are your thoughts on the tracks that you'll be going to and can you give us a little background on how they were chosen? Was it sponsorship or whatever that may be?
PM: Well, the tracks were partly chosen because I'm allowed to do five races this year and stay a rookie. As it turns out I'm actually going to be doing four races and still be a rookie for 2012. So we wanted to make sure that even if we got the sponsorship together we didn't end up doing six races, because that would have really handicapped me going into next year. So that was the first thing.
The second thing is we obviously didn't want to do anything immediately after Indy because Conquest did such a great job for me at Indy, harping back to that again. I'm not the kind of person -- I didn't want to end up in a situation where I jumped out of one car at Indy and turned up at Texas with someone else's car, even if that had come up. I loved that track when I tested there, I thought it was fantastic and I would have loved to have raced there but it would have been to much of a rush and I'm fairly big on doing the right thing and as far as I was concerned I just wanted more time to make sure we knew what we were doing. Make sure we were doing the deal properly. Make sure Eric Bachelart over at Conquest knew that I was doing the deal. Because all of my guys on that car were hired on specifically for May and they all had to go back to their real jobs. As much as Eric would have loved to keep me on his team, he knew that I had to start talking to other people.
Looking forwards Loudon seems like a good place because it's such a tough tricky track and that'll give me a good learning experience to go into next year. Then of course Kentucky was a fairly obvious choice with my success there last year and who doesn't want to be apart of the season ending race at Vegas?
16th>: Tons of Pippa Mann fans out there. Your obviously fantastic on Twitter and all of the different social networking sites and that kind of thing. There are tons of fans out there that would love to support some of the sponsors that support you. When do you think we'll hear about some of the supporting sponsors that helped you get into these races?
PM: Well, hopefully very soon! We have Novus back on board as one of the associate sponsors again for all three races. They were onboard on my car at Indy and they're a new partner who I've been working with. I'm still working on trying to keep my Novus channel fun and sightly different from my Twitter and Facebook. Something that people might decide that they want to check out. I'm really enjoying working with those guys, that's very fun.
There's been a lot of noise about an energy drink company, based out on that side of town, I'm sure if you've been on Twitter you know exactly what I'm talking about. We're talking to them and they're a fun, wonderful company and if we can do something with them that's going to be fantastic.
We're talking to plenty of other companies, there seems to be a lot of opportunities out there right now. But overall I'm just really excited this is happening!
16th>: At Indy it was well publicized that your water pump or the system that gave you liquids and hydration for the race went out pretty early on. I'm guessing that entering these three races with Rahal's team you may have a different game plan at least water wise.
PM: Yea, no water pump. [laughs] No electrical water pumps, the old fashion system for me in the future.