Honda Indy 200 Mid-Ohio (2014)

Race Report: Honda Indy 200

LEXINGTON, OH Aug. 3, 2014—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team endured another tough race as Lady Luck turned her back once again in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Starting 21st, Sato got off the line strong and picked up several positions but then found himself with nowhere to go due to a multi-car crash triggered by third place qualifier Tony Kanaan’s spin in turn 4 which also collected Marco Andretti (who started 16th). Sato hit Andretti but was able to continue on, albeit with a damaged front wing assembly. With the race under a full course yellow, he pitted on lap two (when the pits opened) to have it replaced.

Pursuing an alternate fuel strategy, he pitted on lap 11, switching from the harder compound primary (black-rimmed) tires to the softer compound alternate (red-rimmed) tires. Running 19th, he neither gained nor lost positions on a track where it is notoriously difficult to pass. The race’s second full course yellow came out on lap 37 for Ryan Hunter-Reay’s spin in turn 12.

As Sato headed for the pits, the car sputtered off turn 6 and had to be towed in. He went a lap down. The race went caution-free after that and Sato never had the chance to get his lap back. He finished 18th.

“It was a disappointing race,” said Sato. “We made a good start and picked up a couple of positions but then there was a multiple car accident in front of me and I couldn’t avoid it. The front wing was damaged so we pitted and changed it. We went back racing again but unfortunately we ran out of fuel and I couldn’t get back to the pits, so I had to be towed and we lost a lap. We kept going and the boys gave me great pit stops but our position never changed because we were a lap down. It was a really tough race. We just have to keep our motivation up.”

Qualifying Report: Honda Indy 200

LEXINGTON, OH Aug 2, 2014—A very wet, slippery race track caused a few drivers some major problems in qualifying today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and, sadly Takuma Sato was among them. A thunderstorm hit the track about 90 minutes before qualifying began and lasted for about an hour, drenching the track.

"It was extremely slippery track conditions and I spun out on my out lap,” said Sato, who was in the first group of 11 drivers trying to qualify. “The engine was still running and I tried to shift, but it was stuck in a false neutral at which time the engine shut off. It's really a shame that we couldn't complete a lap."

Sato will start 21st in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda because he never got a timed lap in during the first round of qualifying for the Honda Indy 200. However, Sato is in some pretty stout company. Scott Dixon and his teammates Ryan Briscoe and defending race winner Charlie Kimball will be starting in the last two rows of the 22-car grid. Between them, they have won six of the last seven races at Mid-Ohio.

In the first round of qualifying Briscoe, Sato and Dixon spun off the track in separate incidents and each brought out a red flag (Dixon was in the second group of round 1 qualifying). As a consequence, each driver lost his two fastest laps for causing the stoppage. No one had enough time to lay down a third quick lap in the 10-minute sessions.  Sato, who spun on his out lap, sat in the infield grass for the remainder of his session when the Holmatro Safety Team could not re-fire Sato’s engine in a timely manner.

Practice Report: Honda Indy 200

LEXINGTON, OH Aug 1—Takuma Sato and the ABC Supply team’s first day on track was a productive one as practice opened for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today under sunny skies.

Sato climbed from 12th in the morning practice to third in the afternoon session, one of five drivers who actually improved their speed from the morning.

“Today the track condition was very slippery, low grip, and felt a little greasy compared to the test day last week,” said Sato, adding, “which, by the way, we had a very productive test and we learned a lot and that showed in the result today.

“The ABC car is working really well under the tricky conditions. Tomorrow will be tricky weather-wise but by Sunday for sure, the whole track will grip up and it will be a different scenario. We have been struggling a little bit on the lower grip condition on the road courses but now we are in a very good position and we’re very pleased. We’re working to continue the speed for tomorrow.”

In the afternoon session, Sato posted a speed of 121.495mph which was just eight hundredths of a second off the session’s pace setter Sebastien Bourdais’ speed of 121.639mph. Overall pacesetter was Ryan Hunter-Reay who set his quickest speed of 122.180mph in the morning session—he was sixth in the afternoon session with a speed of 121.155mph. Sato was 12th overall.

NOTES & QUOTES: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

Takuma Sato On:

o Mid-Ohio course: “It always reminds me of a British country’s race course… for example Oulton Park (in the U.K.). Very narrow, good elevation changes, high-speed and lots of greens with dense forest. It’s a classic! Meaning, I like it a lot. I always love driving there and I particularly enjoy the support from the fans. They are very knowledgeable and extremely enthusiastic as they sometimes even bring my F3 [2001 British Formula 3] days photos!”

o The key setup for the race: “Since it has a few long straights, it’s not necessary to run with maximum downforce but you need a good grip at the second half of the circuit which has a series of very tricky corners. So the field is mixed up with various downforce levels depending on each team’s set-up philosophy. Also this track is well known for its very changeable track conditions, in other words, it has huge track evolution. So it’s important to plan ahead rather than chase the track. That’s easy to say and difficult to do, but we try.”

o What was learned from July 24 testing at Mid-Ohio: “It was a very productive test and it was very encouraging to see that we made good progress. We have been working pretty hard to figure out the road course set-up and quite honestly, it has been a long journey to arrive at this comfortable level. We have struggled with the usage of the tires’ working range for some road courses but it looks like we managed well at our last test and now we have a good level of grips. We are always looking for improvement so this might only be the start of our new set-up, but I feel positive and optimistic about it.”

o Having a good run in Toronto (started 22nd, finished 5th): “At last! It was definitely what we needed for a long time. Now we’ll bring this good momentum and go for more good results in the last part of our season. I am very positive.”

Past performance: In four starts at Mid-Ohio, Sato’s best start was third in his first start at the track in 2010 with KV Racing and his best finish was 4th in 2011 with them. In seven appearances, the Foyt team’s best start (7th) and finish (4th) came in 2009 with Ryan Hunter-Reay who was subbing for the injured Vitor Meira that season.