All photos courtesy BorgWarner

Honda welcomes Sato, Borg-Warner Trophy and more on ‘Thanks Day’

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We mentioned last week how the Borg-Warner Trophy was set to embark on its first ever trip outside the U.S., en route to Japan for a couple weeks.

A highlight event for the trophy, for 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil race winner Takuma Sato and more than two dozen other Honda drivers was Honda Racing’s THANKS DAY – held this weekend at Twin Ring Motegi, Japan.

With more than 20,000 fans in attendance ranging from babies to more senior fans, questions, pictures and memories flowed throughout the day to catch their glimpse of the trophy and Sato in his home country.

Fans admire the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Beyond the event and reveal of the trophy, Sato also ran some demonstration laps on the Twin Ring Motegi oval in his No. 26 Ruoff Home Mortgage Honda that he won the ‘500 with for Andretti Autosport. The laps were the first turned on the oval since the Fukushima earthquake in 2011; the last Verizon IndyCar Series race held in Japan was at Motegi’s road course, a one-time only event held in 2011. The last oval race ran in 2010.

“Today has been amazing, one of the most special days of my life. I want to thanks Honda and BorgWarner for all they have done to make today great,” Sato said.

“Honda Racing THANKS DAY is about the fans and all their passion and loyalty. It was historic for the Borg-Warner Trophy to leave the United States for the very first time ever and come to Japan, it makes us all proud!

Young fans admire the Borg-Warner Trophy.

“I have been very fortunate to spend so many years with Honda and to win the Indianapolis 500 with them has been a dream. I love the Indianapolis 500 and the Borg-Warner Trophy and to share my win and the trophy here in Japan has been something I will never forget!

“I have had a big smile all day through all the events. Running laps in my Indy winning car today in front of all the happy fans was a thrill. I loved the cheers and appreciate their support. I am a happy smiling man like the man on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”

Past McLaren Honda F1 driver Jenson Button, who announced his return to Super GT at the weekend, and Repsol Honda MotoGP riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were thrilled to see the trophy and Sato during the day as well. Former Honda chief Mr. Michihiro Asaka was there to witness the trophy and car. All of them chimed in on the day, as well.

Button admires the Borg-Warner Trophy.

“That is one amazing trophy!  There are so many of my friend’s faces on it and so many Formula 1 drivers who won at Indy too.  Neat to see Dario (Franchitti) and his three silver faces and look at Takuma, what a proud smile!” Button said of the trophy, and his friends.

Marquez and Pedrosa.

The Repsol Honda riders had the chance to race at Indianapolis, but hadn’t really understood the measure of the trophy until seeing it up close.

“That is one big trophy. So cool. That would be worth winning. I like the history it represents at a great track, Indianapolis. It is nice to see Takuma with all the other winners!” said Marquez.

Pedrosa added, “Wow, I like that trophy, I wish I won that for winning my races racing at Indianapolis. That is a great trophy representing racing in the United States.”

Mr. Asaka, who was instrumental in bringing Honda into IndyCar in 1994, said this was a truly special day for the company given its racing heritage and the success being able to come home.

“We were so happy getting the first Honda driver’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy,” he said. “There are now so many great Honda drivers represented over the years. I am very proud of our success in racing and at Indianapolis. It was not always easy but we worked very hard to reach our goals. We are very honored the trophy came to Japan. It is historic and all the fans and media can’t believe they get to see it with their own eyes today. I have seen it many times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but I never, never thought I’d see it in Japan and at Twin Ring Motegi. This is a special, special day for all of us to share and remember.”

Sato, the Borg-Warner Trophy, and BorgWarner’s Scott Gallett.

Scott Gallett, Vice President of Market, BorgWarner Inc., put into perspective the day’s proceedings.

“It was my first time at the Honda Racing THANKS DAY. To see all the Honda Motor Sports drivers, cars, motorcycles and fans in one place at the same time makes it truly unique.

“Everywhere the Borg-Warner Trophy goes it attracts attention. The fans at the event brought this to a new higher level. They gathered to see the trophy in person non-stop all day long taking pictures and just staying to be in the presence of the iconic trophy on it’s first trip to Japan.

“Takuma Sato thanked BorgWarner and Honda repeatedly throughout the day and we could see the true joy on his face. BorgWarner was proud to help make the day more special for Takuma Sato and Honda. It was a very historical event.”

Gathering of stars at Honda Racing THANKS DAY.

Social media (more than just Sato and IndyCar) 

 

Lewis Hamilton takes F1 pole in dramatic Russian GP qualifying

Russian pole Lewis Hamilton
Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to equaling the Formula One win record Saturday by clinching pole position at the Russian Grand Prix, after narrowly avoiding early elimination when Sebastian Vettel crashed.

Hamilton charged to a track-record time of 1 minute, 31.304 seconds, beating the Red Bull of Max Verstappen by 0.563 for his fifth straight pole position. Hamilton can achieve his 91st career win in the race on Sunday, matching the record held by Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, was beaten into third by Verstappen’s fast run at the end of the session and was .652 off Hamilton’s time.

The long run from the grid to the first significant turn means Bottas could yet threaten to overtake Hamilton at the start Sunday using the slipstream from his teammate’s car.

“It’s nice being on pole but here is probably the worst place to be on pole,” Hamilton said.

“This year you’re seeing that our cars are more draggy and there’s more tow this year than we’ve seen in other years. So I generally expect one of (Verstappen and Bottas) to come flying by at some point. I think I’m just going to focus on my race and run the fastest race I can.”

Bottas earned his first win at the 2017 race in Russia after starting third and overtaking the two Ferraris ahead of him at the start.

Verstappen and Bottas both start the race on medium tires, which could give them an edge in terms of pit strategy over Hamilton, who is on soft tires, which wear much faster.

“I’m just going to have to nurse those tires for as far as I can. These guys, if they get by, they’re going to be pulling away,” Hamilton said.

Verstappen said he was delighted to start second.

“I wasn’t expecting that and of course it’s great for us. If we can get a good start tomorrow you never know what can happen,” he said.

Vettel lost control of his car over the kerb on the inside of the 90-degree, right-hand turn four and spun into the wall, before the Ferrari bounced back onto the track. Teammate Charles Leclerc was following closely behind and narrowly missed the wrecked car, driving over its discarded front wing.

“Oh my God, that was very, very close,” Leclerc told his team over the radio. Leclerc qualified 11th and Vettel 15th as Ferrari failed to reach the top-10 shootout with either car for the third time in four races.

Vettel’s crash meant the red flag was waved while Hamilton was trying to set his first valid lap time to make the third session – after his first attempt was earlier ruled out for going off the track.

After the track was cleared and the session restarted, Hamilton had to rush his out-lap to make it over the line in time for another flying lap with just a second to spare.

“It was horrible,” Hamilton said. “Heart in the mouth.”

Hamilton was also asked to report to race stewards over another incident in which he went off the track in the first part of qualifying. No further action was taken. It was found Hamilton didn’t gain an advantage because the lap time wasn’t counted.

Hamilton is the runaway championship leader with a 55-point advantage over second-place Bottas and 80 over Verstappen. If he can earn four more pole positions in the last seven races, he would be the first driver to 100 in F1 history.

Earlier in the third and final practice Saturday morning, Hamilton set the pace with a time of 1 minute, 33.279 seconds that was 0.776 better than his Mercedes teammate Bottas, who had been quickest in the first two sessions.