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.”

Power was followed across the line by Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, Justin Wilson and Verizon P1 pole winner Helio Castroneves.

Qualifying for Race 2 takes place tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. The race will be broadcast live by ABC-TV at 3:30 pm ET.