Duel In Detroit (2014)

Race Report:  Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix – Race 2

DETROIT June 1, 2014—IndyCar race or bumper car race?

For Takuma Sato, Race 2 of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was more of the latter. Twice he was punted from behind as he was making his way through the field. The pole winner took off at the start and was cruising when the race was slowed by two full course yellows – the first coming on lap one and the second on lap 10.

With the second yellow, the team decided to pit Sato to get him off of the softer compound alternate tires which were showing wear early. He lost a several spots due to stopping long in the pit box but the team still got him out in 10.3 seconds.

Due to the full course cautions, several fuel strategies were in play. He worked his way back to third before having to pit on lap 30. The ABC crew serviced him in 7.1 seconds, but he dropped from third to 13th as the different fuel strategies surfaced. On lap 35, he was overtaking Jack Hawksworth (who had just exited the pits) when Ryan Briscoe tried to make it three wide by going up the middle in Turn 3 and punting Sato into a spin. Sato never stalled but he lost six spots and a lot of track position.

Although furious that Briscoe wasn’t penalized for avoidable contact, Sato maintained his composure and soldiered on. He pitted 11 laps later and the ABC crew turned in a 6.79-second stop which allowed Sato to gain a spot on the track and move into 15th as cars began pitting. By lap 49, he was in 12th and again chasing Bourdais. He moved into 11th on lap 59 when Bourdais hit the wall which brought out another full course caution.

Takuma Sato Wins the Verizon P1 Pole at Detroit

DETROIT June 1, 2014—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team pulled out all the stops today to snatch the pole in the final seconds of qualifying for Race 2 of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. And set a new track record in the process!

It was Sato’s second pole of the season, having won the season opener Verizon P1 Award in St. Petersburg, Fla. He is the only driver to win two poles this season. It is his fifth career pole in the Verizon IndyCar Series and third with A.J. Foyt’s ABC Supply Honda-powered car.

“I’m extremely pleased for the ABC Supply team,” said Sato. “Yesterday’s race was tough with the gearbox problem, but we used the race as a test session and we learned a lot. We found something that we needed to solve and the team and our engineers did a great job getting everything together.

"I knew the track was really good from watching the first group. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but when I had two laps to go I felt confident that the car worked really well and the last lap the car turned right. I just had to make sure that I didn’t make a mistake as I was committed 100 percent of the time. That’s a really great moment for qualifying."

With just one 12-minute session for each of the two groups of 11 drivers, the qualifying was an all or nothing effort. For the ABC Supply team in the second group, Sato drove the ultimate lap posting a time of 1 minute, 16.1371 seconds (111.115mph), which was nearly a quarter of a second quicker than outside pole winner James Hinchcliffe, who was the quickest in the first group of qualifiers. The groups line up with the group earning the pole occupying the odd-numbered positions and the other group the even-numbered positions.

Helio Castroneves began his celebration of nipping James Hinchcliffe for the pole several seconds too early as Sato had yet to cross the line. Elation turned into dejection as he realized he would be starting third instead of first. Fourth and fifth were Mike Conway and Ryan Briscoe.

The 70-lap race will be televised live by ABC-TV today starting at 3:30 pm ET.

Race Report: Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix – Race 1

DETROIT May 31, 2014—There is always tomorrow.

Finishing 18th in the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team had to use the race as a test session after a gearbox problem cost them four laps in the pits as the team replaced it on lap 11 under green flag conditions.

Following an early pit stop, Sato was looking strong as the team took just six seconds to fuel and change tires, allowing Sato to beat out the five cars that pitted with him, including eventual winner Will Power and Indy 500 champ Ryan Hunter-Reay. However, misfortune struck four laps later as Sato couldn’t upshift. He pitted and sat patiently as the team replaced the gearbox and sent him on his way.

Chief engineer Don Halliday used the race to his advantage and learned some things that he can put to good use in tomorrow’s race. Although four laps down, Sato was one of the quickest cars on track. Indeed he set his fastest lap on lap 50-- on tires that had 16 hard laps on them.

“Really tough race today,” said Sato, who started 15th alongside Power. “In the early part of the race we had an issue with the drivetrain so we had to replace the gearbox, fortunately we were able to fix it but we lost four laps. We used it as a test session because we have tomorrow’s race. The car was pretty good in quite limited circumstances. On the primary tire, the car worked well especially when the track rubbered up in the middle part of the race. At one stage the car came altogether and it was pretty strong so that was encouraging. We still have some work to do.”

Takuma Sato’s ‘Indy 500 Helmet’ Auction Starts May 31st

INDIANAPOLIS May 31, 2014--For 500 miles Takuma Sato’s helmet protected him as he raced at speeds over 220mph in A.J. Foyt’s famed No. 14 Indy car in this year’s Indianapolis 500. Bearing the pockmarks, grease and dirt of the grueling speed contest, the specially-designed, race-worn helmet will be auctioned off to aid the children affected by the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

The helmet also bears the gold-leaf autograph of the Japanese driver who hasn’t forgotten the most vulnerable victims of the tsunami that struck his homeland over three years ago. All of the proceeds will benefit ‘With you Japan’ which is the foundation that Sato founded in the aftermath of one of the worse natural disasters to strike his country.

Race fans and serious collectors can bid for the helmet at www.501auctions.com/takumasato, a safe and secure website which will go live Saturday, May 31, 2014 at 12:00 Midnight JST or 11:00am EDT. The bidding will close on Monday, June 9 at 11:59:59pm JST or 10:59:59am EDT.  The globally accessible website will allow Sato’s fans from across the world to bid on the helmet which is expected to draw serious interest.

Practice Report:  Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix

DETROIT May 30, 2014—The first day of the Dual in Detroit weekend went smoothly for Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team as they improved the No. 14 car’s performance during the two practice sessions held on the 2.36-mile temporary circuit on Belle Isle.

Sato noted that he would have to reset his mind after going 230mph on the super smooth oval in Indianapolis to nearly half that speed on the bumpy street course in the Motor City but he was looking forward to returning to Detroit.

“It’s good to be back on a street course,” said Sato.  “It was a tough morning chasing grip and balance, but we made progress in the afternoon.  Two short sessions but we did a lot of work, and it was very productive for us.  Glad to end in the top 7 today and looking forward to tomorrow's qualifying.”

Sato was 16th in the morning session with a speed of 105.599mph but in the afternoon, he climbed to seventh with his speed of 108.045mph in the ABC Supply Honda. Simon Pagenaud paced the field with his speed of 108.950mph. Second through fifth were: Mike Conway, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Scott Dixon.

Qualifying for Race 1 is tomorrow morning starting at 8:35a.m. The ABC-TV broadcast of the 70-lap race starts at 3:30p.m. ET.