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.

Race Report: Honda Indy Toronto

TORONTO July 20, 2014—Takuma Sato posted his first top-five finish of the year in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda as he came from nearly last to finish fifth in the Honda Indy Toronto Race 2. After being knocked out of Race 1 on the first lap, the top-five finish in Race 2 was particularly sweet.

"Toronto is a great event as always,” Sato said. “We've been unlucky but we bounced back strong and finishing as the highest Honda-powered car makes me proud. The race was really tricky—going from the dry to wet to dry tires. The guys did a great job in the pits. We never lost our motivation [despite the poor results]. I really enjoyed this race, and hopefully we'll be strong the rest of the season."

Race 1, postponed from Saturday due to rain causing poor track conditions, took place Sunday morning. Both races were shortened to 65 laps or 75 minutes.

Sato started 12th and got caught up in five car tangle triggered by Simon Pagenaud’s spin. Sato’s car was the only one that had to be taken to the paddock to be repaired. The car’s left front suspension and right side undertray had to be replaced. He rejoined the race 40 laps down to test the car and pulled in after nine laps. He placed 23rd.

The race was won by Sebastien Bourdais. Second through fifth were: Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon.

Practice Report: Honda Indy Toronto

TORONTO July 18, 2014—Takuma Sato took to the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Park in the ABC Supply Honda today under sunny skies.

"It's good to be back in Toronto,” said Sato. “We tried various things today but the practice was cut short by a few minutes so we couldn't try everything. But we did make a step forward and improved the car. Hopefully it will show in tomorrow's qualifying and race."

Sato was 21st in the first practice but finished up the day with a 12th place ranking in the second practice with his time of 1 minute, 0.6538 seconds.  Simon Pagenaud paced the field with his laptime of 1:00.0084 around the 11-turn, 1.7 mile street circuit. Second through fifth were Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Will Power and James Hinchcliffe.

Firestone Fast Six qualifying begins at 10 a.m. ET tomorrow with NBC Sports Network coverage of Race 1 beginning at 3 p.m. ET.


Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy Toronto 2 in T.O.

Takuma Sato On:

o Toronto Circuit: “The track is very tricky. It is quite bumpy and has very low grip especially since there are several different surfaces all in one corner. So initially the car arrives on the slippery part, loses front grip which causes the understeer then both front and rear slide on the slippery patch, then the front is on asphalt so suddenly the grip is back but the rear is still slippery resulting in oversteer. The car balance will be all over the place. The key is to aim for the highest mechanical grip as well as maximize the drivability of the car.”

o What you love about Toronto: “The city is great, it has lots of energy with great restaurants, shopping and fashions. I really like the atmosphere of Toronto, it is a beautiful city. The fans that come to the track are very enthusiastic too so we have a great support.  Also there is fairly large Japanese community so it’s nice to have a good cheering from them too.”

o Turning luck around in Toronto: “Absolutely we need to do it. I really appreciate all the support from the team too. The boys are working so hard and they keep very positive every race weekend. They definitely deserve much better results. Although the Toronto race is historically not a very lucky place for me, I have a good feeling this year. We should be good shape in Toronto and hopefully we will have a trouble-free weekend as it is a very busy double header. We just need to make sure there is no more bad luck.”

o Being superstitious (or not): “Usually I’m not superstitious. The only thing I do is get in and out from the left side of the car. But since we have had so many unfortunate situations this year, I guess we have to do something in order to get rid of some of the bad luck.”

Japanese superstitions: Takuma Sato is familiar with the following popular superstitions in his home country of Japan (although he doesn’t necessarily believe in them):

  • The number four: The number four is considered inauspicious because it is pronounced the same as the word for death (shi). Therefore, one should not make presents that consist of four pieces, etc. In some hotels and hospitals the room number four is skipped.
  • The number nine: The number nine is considered unlucky since it is sometimes pronounced the same as the word for suffering (ku).
  • Sleeping towards the North: Do not sleep with head pointing North because that is the way deceased bodies are laid to rest at a funeral.
  • Lie down after eating: If you lie down immediately after eating, you will become a cow.
  • Whistle in the night: If you whistle in the night, a snake will come to you.
  • Spiders: When you see a spider in the morning, it will bring good luck. On the other hand, it is bad luck to see a spider at night.
  • Wish upon a shooting star: If you wish on a shooting star three times, your wish will come true.

For Toronto, we think Takuma (who hasn’t finished better than 18th since the Indy 500) should qualify anywhere but 4th or 9th, sleep with his head pointed South, walk after eating, don’t whistle at all, keep the lights off in his hotel room, and finally, look for shooting stars and start wishing. Of course, he won’t wear green or eat peanuts at the track, and will be sure to avoid the number 13 (drivers included).