Takuma Sato: Gateway Is Going To Be A Challenging Race

Takuma Sato
The 2018 Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will mark the second open-wheel race at the track since 2003 and will be the seventh event for the team here. The 1.25-mile oval hosted CART-sanctioned races from 1997-2000 and IRL races from 2001-2003 before the IndyCar Series returned in 2017.  The team competed in all four CART races from 1997-2000 and one of the three IRL races (2003).  The best starting position for the team of second place came in 2003 by Kenny Brack and the best finish of fifth place was in 1999 by Max Papis.  Prior to 2018, the team prepared a total of 10 Indy car entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1997-1998), Bryan Herta (1997-1999), Max Papis (1999-2000), Kenny Brack (2000, 2003) and Graham Rahal (2017).

The No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda entry for Graham Rahal and No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic entry for Takuma Sato will bring that total to 12 in 2018.

This will be Takuma’s second race here but his first one didn’t last long. He qualified a strong sixth but the race went yellow when Tony Kanaan spun on the pace lap.  Once the green flag flew, pole-sitter Will Power lost control of his race car as did Ed Carpenter and collected Sato as he was spinning. Sato only completed six of 248 laps. He finished third at the previous short oval race this season at Iowa Speedway and is hopeful for a strong performance at Gateway.

“Unfortunately it was a short race for us last year but it is a very impressive facility.  We tested there last year and then after that, the track and promoter’s commitment was very impressive and they made some improvements so when we went back it was a completely different track. It is a great, fun track. The characteristics of Gateway are very unique. I think it is one of the best short ovals because there is such high banking in Turns 1 and 2, and Turns 3 and 4 are kind of flat and, as we observed, it was one of the best short oval races last year. I think it was a great show.  The fans were really excited and it was great to see so many enthusiastic fans at the race.”

“It is going to be a challenging race. Iowa was an exceptionally interesting race because there were so many lanes available so instead of following others, you can stagger so you have fresh air. Last year it worked really well at Gateway because Turn 3 and 4 were nearly flat (on the throttle) all the time even when you were following a car so that means essentially at the exit of Turn 2 until the entry to Turn 1 you can see down the long straight so you get a great tow effect, therefore, a lot of passing was happening in the Turn 1 entry.  But this year, because there is a reduction of downforce, if we can follow cars in Turns 3 and 4, I think it will be great racing again. If not, it will be difficult to overtake.  Since we had a very good race at Iowa, I am certainly looking forward to going to Gateway.”

The three remaining races in 2018 will take place on one oval and two road courses — Portland International Raceway and the double-points race at Sonoma Raceway. Rahal is eighth in series point standings with a total of 351 and is 60 points out of fifth place Ryan Hunter-Reay, 411.  Takuma Sato is 13th in series point standings with 267.


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