Sato Held an 8-Second Lead in Baltimore At One Point But Retired in 21st Due to a Fuel Pressure Problem

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Baltimore Grand Prix – Baltimore, Maryland
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES — Sunday, September 2, 2012

TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “The start of the race was a tough one due to the chicane.  Where I started, which was basically at the back of the grid, it was already green for me before the chicane, around Turn 12. After a few laps I settled into a rhythm as it was difficult to overtake at that point.  But then the weather really helped me a lot. It started raining and I was grinning a little bit of course.  It was strange weather. On the main straight it was quite wet, more than damp, and on the back straight it was dry.  We just stayed on our program. It was difficult conditions and a lot of people came in to change to wet tires but we decided to stay on dry tires and I made a huge jump and was in fifth. We overtook on the restarts and led the race, and we led comfortably.  But then unfortunately the problem started – I think a fuel pressure problem. The engine started coughing and I started to lose power; especially on the restart, there was just no power and a bunch of the drivers overtook me. Every restart was difficult and in the end it was difficult to select the gears due to some engine response I think.  In the end we had to stop which is a big shame. The boys did a tremendous job and some really hard work over the course of the weekend with changing the engine twice. We worked through it and had a really competitive race and I am really proud of that so it’s just a shame that we couldn’t bring home a good result today.”

  • FAST FACTS: Started 23rd, and with the help of strategy that took into consideration intermittent rain that differed around the track, he moved into fifth then on into the lead from Laps 24-35. He ultimately retired in 21st place due to a fuel pressure problem after completing 50 of 75 laps… This was Sato’s second race at Baltimore. He qualified 26th and finished 18th here in 2011 with KV Racing Technology… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is second in Edmonton this year… Sato led two street races this season (St. Pete & Long Beach) and at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he nearly won with a last lap pass. Has led 58 laps to date in 2012… In 34 starts in 2010-2011, has 17 career top-10 starting spots including four top-five starts and two poles (Edmonton and Iowa 2011). He has earned eight top-10 finishes including three top-five spots (fourth at Mid-Ohio, fifth at Texas and St. Petersburg in 2011).  Led a total of 61 laps from 2010-11.

TOM ANDERSON, Managing Director Motorsports Operations: “The Bobby Rahal School of Strategy was working magic today. Takuma was able to come from 23rd to first and was running strong. Our engineer Gerry Hughes and Takuma put together a good handling car today and it was great to be back on pace. During the restart where Takuma lost four or five positions, we started to incur a fuel pressure drop from the engine. Right now we’re not sure, without inspecting the fuel cell, on whether it’s a fuel pump, fuel pressure valve, loose line or any of the other possibilities. As we were losing pressure during that run, we pitted a bit early to refuel the tank but the problem continued and worsened until he was 10-seconds slower. From a safety standpoint we made the decision to park the car.  It was a great run by Takuma, a great job by the engineers and Bobby and the team. Unfortunately we didn’t see the result today.”
NEXT UP:  The series will take next weekend off before reconvening for the 2012 IndyCar Series Season finale at Auto Club Speedway on September 15.