Sato Was Sixth When Contact Forced His Retirement from the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Chevrolet Detroit BelIe IsleGrand Prix – Raceway at Belle IslePark
IZOD IndyCar Series
RACE NOTES/QUOTES — Sunday, June 3, 2012



TAKUMA SATO, No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone:  “It was quite a crazy start; very narrow. I was completely boxed in from the front, back and sides. But I was able to get through Turns 1 and 2 okay and gained positions.  Then after that, I settled in to a rhythm in the position.  We decided to make a strategy change and came in the pits earlier to get back on track in free air and also change the tires. The balance was quite difficult, not really to my liking. It’s a tough track and very difficult to settle the car.  And the track was coming up as well in Turns 6 and 11. In Turn 12, I clipped a very high curb and that made a huge kickback in the steering wheel and it slipped from my grip and that was the end of the race. It’s not the way we wanted to finish. It was a difficult weekend but hopefully we come back strong at Texas.”

FAST FACTS: Started 11th and was in sixth place on Lap 39 when he made contact with the wall after running over the curb and losing control of his race car… Earned his best starting position for 2012 of 12th place for his first race in Detroit… His best road/street course qualifying is pole at Edmonton in 2011 and his best finish is third in Sao Paulo, Brazil this year… Is Sato’s first season at RLL and third in IndyCar and it appears to be the start of his best season to date in the series… Sato led two (St. Pete & Long Beach) of the four road/street races this season and three of five overall races after leading – and nearly winning — the Indy 500. 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 Motorsport Operations:  “After the on track incident, and after a quick review of the chassis, we believe the smart thing to do is to not try to repair the car in the timeframe. Under the IndyCar Series rules you aren’t allowed to work on a car during a red flag and the number of laps that it would have put us down makes the risk versus reward totally out of proportion. Add in the fact that putting the car back on track with a questionable steering system is not the thing to do in this sport. With those factors in mind we had no choice but to call it a day.”

1 WIN, 2 PODIUMS FOR RAHAL LETTERMAN LANIGAN RACING AT DETROIT 2012 will mark the 21st consecutive season of competition for the team and 13th Indy car race in Detroit The team’s highest start of second place and highest finish of first in the event came in the inaugural running on Belle Isle in 1992 by Bobby Rahal.  In total, the team has earned two podiums (Max Papis 2000 – 2nd), three top-five finishes and nine top-10’s here (chart on back page). Prior to 2012, the team prepared a total of 20 entries for drivers such as Bobby Rahal (1992-1998), Mike Groff (1993-94), Raul Boesel (1995), Bryan Herta (1996-99), Max Papis (1999-2001), Kenny Brack (2000-01), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2007-08).  The No. 15 entry for Takuma Sato will brought that total to 21 in 2012.

NEXT UP:  The series will return to action next weekend for the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 9. The 228-lap race will be televised live beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. Takuma Sato earned his best series oval finish to date of fifth at Texas Motor Speedway last year.