In a motorsport week that sees the return to action of Formula E in Europe and the landmark 1000th Formula One grand prix, there was also excitement aplenty on Sunday as Takuma Sato scored a dominant win in the NTT IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park.
For former F1 driver Sato, it was the fourth victory of his IndyCar career, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver leading home Scott Dixon and Sebastian Bourdais.
“This is because of the team, they did a fantastic effort,” Sato said. “My car was superb! (On alternate) red tires, (primary) black tires, I didn’t have to worry about it. It’s probably the cleanest race I ever won. I think we come here with the hopes, always do, but honestly never really, really expected to be this much of a domination.”
Despite starting on pole position, it was a victory not without incident for Sato, the popular Japanese suffering a sticking left-rear wheelnut on his first pit stop and surviving a late off-track excursion through the dirt before taking the chequered flag first.
“Outside, (it) probably looked easy winning from the cruising and the pole position, but it wasn’t really cruising,” added Sato. “So I was really pushing hard using push-to-pass on everything the last 10 laps. So it was tough, and I had a little moment into Turn 8. Anyway, it was not necessary to give the little bit sort of heart attack to the body.”
— Jim Ayello (@jimayello) April 7, 2019
It could have been even better for the Acronis partner team, Graham Rahal starting alongside Sato on the grid and enjoying a strong race before grinding to a halt on lap 55.
In winning, Sato became the third different driver from a third different team to win at the start of the 2019 season.
— NTT IndyCar Series (@IndyCar) April 7, 2019
The thrill of victory!
— Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (@RLLracing) April 7, 2019