Race Report: Honda Indy Toronto Race 2

TORONTO July 14, 2013—Takuma Sato was headed for his first top-10 finish in a month in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto today. However, a double file restart with two laps to go on the tight 1.7-mile street course set the stage for a dramatic finish which turned into a disappointment for Sato and the ABC Supply team.

Sato never got to see the checkered flag as the cars of Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay tangled ahead of him. Sato, who was ninth when he crossed the start-finish line, got boxed in coming into Turn 1 and then was hit in the ensuing melee. With nowhere to go, he rear-ended Hunter-Reay who was parked along the wall.

“The very last restart was just hectic,” said Sato. “I went to Turn 1 very clean on the outside and there were a lot of cars in front and on the side and I was boxed in. There was a concertina effect [from the accident ahead] and I was hit and there was nowhere to go. It was very unfortunate.”

Although he qualified 15th, Sato lined up 14th when the No. 4 entry had to start in the rear of the field due to a driver change. Regular driver Ryan Briscoe broke his wrist in an accident in yesterday’s race and rookie Carlos Munoz replaced Briscoe.

INDYCAR officials determined there would be a standing start for this race since yesterday’s standing start had been aborted due to a car not starting. For Sato, who is a veteran of standing starts from his Formula 1 days, it was welcome news and he made the most of it. He advanced four positions by the end of lap one to slide into 10th.

He moved into seventh by the time of his first pit stop on lap 25 and was still running seventh when he pitted on lap 57. As pit stops cycled out he would have remained seventh but a yellow flag came out several laps later allowing Dario Franchitti to gain track position with his fortunately timed pit stop.

Restarting eighth, Sato lost two spots because the cars behind him were on the softer compound red tires allowing them to jump past Sato who was using the harder compound black tires in his final stint. He was running 10th when Ed Carpenter hit the wall bringing out another caution on lap 81 of the 85-lap race. It was on the lap 83 restart that Sato’s race ended against the wall. He was credited with 20th and has slipped to 13th in the standings, having not finished the last four races.

He commented afterwards, “We were running in the top 10 all day. It was a lot of work for a very disappointing result in the end.

“The standing start was great –I enjoyed it and moved up a couple places,” he added with a smile. “We were looking at a good top 10 because the car was much better today. Thankfully all the boys and engineers did a great job to get back our speed but we need to work harder because we’re still behind from the top group.”

Scott Dixon won his third race in a row, and by winning both races in Toronto this weekend, he earned the SONAX Perfect Finish Award which was worth an extra $100,000. Helio Castroneves, Sebastian Bourdais, Franchitti and E.J. Viso rounded out the top five.

With a two-week break ahead, Sato will return to Tokyo to spend time with his family. The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to action July 31 with an Open Test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course followed by the Honda Indy 200 at the picturesque road course set for August 4th.