QUALIFYING REPORT – Long Beach Grand Prix

LONG BEACH, Calif. April 12, 2014—This year’s qualifying round for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was surprising as quite a few faces are in unfamiliar places. Takuma Sato will start 15th in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda tomorrow.

Sato will be starting directly behind Tony Kanaan and Will Power, and alongside of Juan Pablo Montoya, all of whom failed to transfer out of the first round of qualifying.

“Tough qualifying session,” said Sato. “We made progress over the two days but just not enough. It’s quite a mixture of a grid so whether it was conditions or not, I don’t know. We tried our best but not going through the Q-1 qualifying round was disappointing. We shall work hard for final practice and hopefully we will have a strong package for the race.”

Sato’s two quickest laps were taken away when race officials decided he interfered with Ryan Hunter-Reay’s qualifying run in the first round. Sato explained, “We  both started on blacks [tires], but I pitted a lap earlier for the red tires. After warming up on my red tires, I was just starting my qualifying lap and he was on charge finishing his lap on blacks. Unfortunately we came close in the very last sector where the timing line is. I didn’t feel it would affect him on his lap time but they decided to penalize me.”

The penalty did not affect his starting position.

Hunter-Reay advanced through both rounds to win the Verizon P-1 Pole Award. Teammate James Hinchcliffe shares the front row. Sebastian Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, Jacks Hawksworth and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the Firestone Fast Six.

The ABC Supply team has a final warm-up session tomorrow morning. The 80-lap race will be televised live on NBC Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. ET.