Duel inDetroit (2013)

Race Report: Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit – Race 2

DETROIT June 2, 2013—The tranquil setting of Detroit’s Belle Isle stood in stark contrast to the heated IndyCar race that took place on the park’s circuit Sunday afternoon. Indeed, the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 2 resembled a Saturday night brawl in the streets as tempers flared during and after the race.

Five of the six full course cautions were for cars making contact of one sort or another, including a 10-car pile-up on a lap 27 restart.

Takuma Sato had come back strong in the No. 14 ABC Supply car after a disappointing result in the first portion of the doubleheader race weekend. Starting 21st, he had climbed to eighth by lap 21 of the 70-lap race when a full course yellow slowed the action as officials cleared debris from the track. On the lap 24 restart, he edged ahead of rookie Tristan Vautier at the start/finish line and the two Honda-powered drivers went side-by-side down the half mile straight to Turn 3. Entering the corner, Vautier veered wide and hit Sato, sending him hard into a tire barrier.

“It was a frustrating end for us really,” said Sato. “We made good progress this morning on the warmup, the car started working really well and I think we had a competitive car this afternoon.”

Race Report: Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit Race 1

DETROIT June 1, 2013—The Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit may prove to be a crucial race in the fortunes of Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply Racing team this season. Not because they placed 19th -- which they did—but because of how they bounce back from the sharp disappointment felt in its aftermath.

As it stands, Sato is currently fourth in the overall IZOD IndyCar Series championship, trailing new leader Helio Castroneves by 14 points. Sato is still leading Castroneves in the Road Course championship by a single point.

Starting seventh in the first race of the IndyCar doubleheader in Belle Isle Park this weekend, Sato was running sixth when the first round of pit stops began. When Sato was told to stay out another lap instead of pitting on lap 24, the computer readout indicated he had enough fuel to run the additional lap when in fact he didn’t—he stopped on the course.

The error proved costly as Sato lost two laps on the 2.3-mile temporary street course. Believing his race was over, Sato began to get out of the car and then thought better of it. The Holmatro Safety Team towed the No. 14 car back to the pits where the ABC Supply crew filled it with fuel and buckled Sato back in.

On lap 27, Sato rejoined the race in 23rd position as the team was determined to use the final 43 laps as a testing session to learn as much as possible for Sunday’s race. If he could gain spots through attrition, that would be a bonus. The adjusted plan proved effective as the engineers were able to gain information about the car’s performance as the race wore on.

Qualifying Report: June 1st Dual in Detroit

DETROIT May 31, 2013—Driving A.J. Foyt’s No. 14 ABC Supply Honda, Takuma Sato will start seventh in the first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit tomorrow afternoon.

Today, Sato was on pace in the second round of knockout qualifying to make it into the Firestone Fast Six final round when an untimely red flag cut the session short by nearly three minutes.

Sato, who was 10th quickest in the sole practice session, topped his group of 12 in the first segment of qualifying and easily advanced to the second round. It was during the next round that Sato’s hopes of a front row start were dashed.

"Interesting qualifying,” Sato said afterwards. “After the torrential rain, the track was drying out quickly. We were comfortably the quickest in the semi-wet conditions so we were confident about qualifying today. In the second segment we did a check run on black tires, and then came in for the reds. We went back out, and on my out-lap a car had spun in Turn 3, bringing out a local yellow. I had to back off for traffic the next lap and it was still a local yellow in 3. Then when I was on my hot lap, they called for the red flag for no reason, so I never got to finish the hot lap. It's just very frustrating for the team and the effort they put in."

Notes & Quotes: Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit

Takuma Sato on returning to a street course: “Having had a couple of weeks of oval days now it is actually quite refreshing to be back on the streets but then a speedway and a variety of short ovals are waiting for us so it is going to be another busy month ahead.”

Sato on Detroit’s dual duels: “I've experienced doubleheader races in my British F3 days.  As usual, we must train hard, eat, sleep and have a good rest! It is true that the Detroit is one of the most physical street courses in the series so having a doubleheader there will be challenging.”

Sato on key to success at Detroit: “Driving on the good part of pavement! No, it should be no problem this year. The circuit is quite tricky as it is very bumpy track with relatively high grip surface. Although I didn't have a good race last year for my first visit to Belle Isle, I like this challenging fast track.”

Sato on what he learned from his Indy 500 experience: “Yes, we are always learning. After having the first oval race for DW12 last year at Indy, the team and I wanted to try new setups this year and we made some good progress during the month. It was good to see the performance was improved but then we needed to address few other new things. The way race went was different from last year's and the field was much tighter. We did have a quite bit of balance change stint by stint and that was very challenging. It was a great race, but we weren't able to manage some areas as well as we wanted but going through that was a good experience for us as a group. It will only make us stronger. The result was a bit disappointing but the Indy 500 is still such a great, exciting race that I already can't wait to come back here next time!”

Sato is now 2nd in Izod IndyCar standings, 11 points behind Marco Andretti. Sato has finished every race this season: 8th in St. Petersburg, 14th in Alabama, 1st in Long Beach, 2nd in Sao Paulo and 13th in Indy.