Sato Takes 12th, Viso 15th, Moraes OK After Spin
MOTEGI, Sept. 19, 2010: Takuma Sato was treated like a rock star this weekend at Twin Ring Motegi, and the Japanese driving star had the enthusiastic crowd on its feet Sunday in the Indy Japan 300, the 16th round of the 17-race IZOD IndyCar Series.
Sato, making his Motegi debut in the No. 5 Lotus — KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone car, fought off amazing crowds in the paddock area and battled his way on the track to finish 12th at the fast 1.5-mile oval north of Tokyo.
Sato’s 12th place finish paced the three-driver KV Racing Technology lineup with E.J. Viso taking 15th and Mario Moraes 24th. Moraes’ car made contact with the Turn Two wall on lap 66. Moraes was transported to Saiseikai Hospital in Mito and later released.
Starting tenth in the 25-driver field, Sato was patient early in the 200-lap contest and charged back to be the highest finishing Japanese driver at the checkered flag. The seven-year Formula One veteran battled wheel-to-wheel with many top contenders including Marco Andretti at the finish to the delight of his Japanese fans. Helio Castroneves won the race.
Sato, an IZOD IndyCar Series rookie, was impressive in passing at least seven drivers in difficult racing conditions. The hot temperatures made for a very slick racing surface that had passing extremely hard. Sato’s adoring crowd was thrilled following the race when he climbed the Turn One catch fence to salute more than 2,500 spectators in the special Sato grandstand.
Viso, who recorded his best 2010 oval qualifying performance on Saturday in eighth, also darted through the field on numerous occasions in the 300-mile feature, but the popular Venezuelan driver had to settle for 15th. Viso’s No. 8 PDVSA—KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry exchanged positions with several in the top ten including Sato before the final pit stop in the 200-lap event.
Moraes, who placed fifth last year at Motegi, drove the No. 32 KV Racing Technology Honda/Dallara/Firestone machine from 20th to 13th position in the first ten laps Sunday. The 21-year-old racer looked to be on a strong run before the incident on lap 66.
TAKUMA SATO, #5 LOTUS - KV RACING TECHNOLOGY HONDA/DALLARA/FIRESTONE, Finished 12th: “It was a tough race but a great result in the end for the Lotus – KV team. It was a difficult start with the tight pack and the slippery track. I needed to be patient, but I did a lot of overtaking today. That was great fun. I had Nick (Harvey) as my spotter and we worked well together. We lost a few places in the middle of the race, but we always fought back to gain positions. Overall, it was a great achievement for the whole team, and I want to thank them for everything they have done this weekend. Finally, I want to thank all the fans for their tremendous support.”
E.J. VISO, #8 PDVSA — KV RACING TECHNOLOGY HONDA/DALLARA/FIRESTONE, Finished 15th: “I thought we had a good car today. We had some trouble in the middle of the race and we lost spots. We have been working well with the engineers to get a car to run with the leaders. I think that is possible on a regular basis. Our PDVSA – KV car has been very good on the ovals this year. So I am really looking forward to the Homestead race in two weeks. That is home for me. So I am very excited to race there again.”