With a pair of top-five performances in two days, Takuma Sato and A.J. Foyt Racing were one of the top Honda runners over the two days of Verizon IndyCar Series testing at Barber Motorsports Park. He ended Tuesday and combined in fourth place.
One of the few full-season single-car teams in the series worked through a series of promising runs. Both in 2012 and 2013, albeit in warmer conditions in April for the race weekend, the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda has been a top-six qualifier at Barber (in 2013, a penalty knocked Sato from the Firestone Fast Six).
“It’s been a very productive two days,” he said post-Tuesday. “We’ve been unlucky in terms of the weather-it was wet in the morning so we didn’t run and the afternoon was cold so that won’t replicate for the race weekend. Nevertheless we did a lot of the test program that we wanted to do and saw how the car reacted. It was a very positive performance wise and the feedback. It’s been a good preparation and we are ready to go to St. Petersburg.”
Sato was one of the top starters to the 2013, with a front-row start at St. Petersburg, the aforementioned Barber qualifying effort and back-to-back podiums at Long Beach (his first win) and Brazil.
The only thing he’ll need to upgrade heading into St. Petersburg next week is his driver uniform, as the old IZOD IndyCar Series logo appears and will need to be swapped out for the new Verizon one.
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.