Sato saves Honda’s day with another St. Pete Fast Six appearance

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ST. PETERSBURG – After ending the 2014 season with three top-six finishes in the final five races, Takuma Sato carried whatever possible momentum from that finish possible into the opening qualifying session of 2015 with a fifth place effort in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda.

Sato, the 2014 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg polesitter, wasn’t quite able to match that feat in Saturday’s session.

However, in a similarly impressive performance, Sato upheld Honda’s honor as the manufacturer’s only representative in the Firestone Fast Six. He qualified fifth, for his first top-five start of 2015 after banking a total of four during the 2014 season.

“Well, I think it’s pretty important for us to be in the Fast Six,” said Sato. “The last two seasons, this track is very kind to me, being able to putting a good result in qualifying. Today it wasn’t like that way.

“As I said, obviously congrats to the Team Penske with the dominance over the qualifying,” he added. “Particularly well done for Will.”

What was frustrating to him though was that new teammate Jack Hawksworth was unable to match his pace in qualifying, after showing decently well during practice. Sato noted an issue, but praised the Larry Foyt-led team’s efforts to expand back to a full-time two-car effort.

“I’m very proud of the team, particularly from a one-car team to a two-car team,” Sato said. “Really the team worked hard to put everything together.

“Jack had a little issue today. But we gathered really good data from yesterday and made a significant improvement over the first practice session. So I think it was good.”

Sato has a decent record at St. Petersburg, with fifth (2011), eighth (2013) and seventh (2014) place finishes on his resume.

He stands the best chance, after qualifying anyway, of delivering a podium finish for Honda in the first race with the new manufacturer aero kits.

Behind Sato, it doesn’t look great for Honda. Ryan Hunter-Reay slots in eighth, with Simona de Silvestro and Marco Andretti the next best placed Hondas in 11th and 12th.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’


The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.