Last season, Takuma Sato put together a solid campaign en route to placing eighth in the year-end Verizon IndyCar Series. More important, though, he was able to take home the victory in the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport.
Now set to drive for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, he opened up about his thoughts going into the year.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts entering the season?
TAKUMA SATO: Very excited. It’s a new season, new challenge, new car, and going back to Bobby Rahal’s team. It’s a fantastic. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – I was racing with them in 2012. After winning the Indy 500 in 2017, it’s great to be back with the team. The new car looks awesome. We haven’t done any on-track testing, but we’re hearing a lot of positives. It’s going to be an exciting season for us.
POW: What is it about RLL’s package that appealed to you as a driver?
SATO: Bobby has always been supportive since we were together in 2012 and shown interest in me. It’s just the conditions, and environment that allows to us to race well together. And obviously the last two seasons, Rahal has shown good speed. It just all came together. Now I really want to have a strong season, and I really appreciate the entire Andretti Autosport team to get to race and learn from them. But I’m much ready for the new season with a new group. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me.
POW: What are your thoughts on having Graham Rahal as a teammate?
SATO: Graham and I get along really well over the past few seasons. We never been together as teammates, but I know Graham is one of the most competitive guys and he showed some strengths last season. He was very impressive last year. I know the team has a strong engineering base, and Graham is fun to work with, so really looking forward to being with him for the new season. It’s going to be good.
POW: What track are you most looking forward to?
SATO: There are a lot of great race tracks. Really, the start of the season – St. Petersburg is really a great venue to start with, followed by Long Beach. Then of course in May, you have the Indianapolis 500 and then Detroit. All of the tracks are all exciting because we have such a variety – short ovals, superspeedway, road course, street course – all really exciting.
I just can’t wait to get back into the car and start the season. But of course, everybody is aiming for the same – but the Indy 500 is the one I really am looking forward to the most going there as the defending champion. I know it’s very difficult, but it’d be great to go back-to-back.
POW: What are your thoughts looking back on last year?
SATO: Last year was an amazing year. Winning the Indy 500 is a dream come true. Andretti always has a strong package for the 500, so I knew I had a great opportunity. It was a special time for us. Being able to work with all of my teammates – Marco, Ryan and Alexander – it was such a great experience. I can’t thank Michael enough for the opportunity.
POW: What was it like taking the Borg Warner trophy to Japan?
SATO: That was fantastic. I wanted to make it happen, because of all the excitement about bringing the winning car to Montegi for the Honda Appreciation Day. So I said why not bring the trophy to so we could show all the fans because they never really had an opportunity to see such an incredible trophy. So we worked with Indianapolis Motor Speedway and of course Honda helped a lot on this project. It was the first time for that trophy out of the country in 83 years.
That was an incredible moment. The fans really enjoyed it, and we were super excited about that one. That was an amazing, amazing thing. It was nice to see so many fans really enjoy seeing the trophy.
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