F1 Driver Takuma Sato Leaves Honda for IndyCar KV Racing Tech
Takuma Sato test drove a Honda-powered Dallara for Jimmy Vasser's KV Racing Technology team last week at Sebring International Raceway in anticipation of competing in the IndyCar Series Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.
Takuma Sato's Racing History
Sato, who speaks English quite well (with a hint of a British accent), brings the prestige of a longtime history of driving with some success in European open-wheel competition. A veteran of 7 Formula 1 seasons, he competed in several European series most notably British Formula 3.
Sato placed fourth in the British Formula 3 National Class B championship in 1999, third in Class A in 2000 and won the Class A championship in 2001. His greatest winning achievement came when he posted 16 wins in British Formula 3 over the 2000 and 2001 seasons - this is still the record number of wins in a season for this series.
The former Formula 1 driver has been on the sidelines since his Super Aguri team folded in mid-2008. He has long been linked with an IndyCar move and visited last year's Indianapolis 500, although he wanted to exhaust any potential options for an F1 comeback before switching his full attention to opportunities in America.
The 33-year-old Japanese driver contested 92 grands prix for Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri between 2002 and 2008, with his third place in the 2004 United States GP his best F1 result. He is confident that he can be an immediate frontrunner with Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven's team.
KV Racing Technology Welcomes Sato
We are very excited to have been able to put this deal together with Takuma and his group," said Vasser. "I can't wait to see what I know will be a extremely fast pace by Taku on the road courses and look forward to working with him and getting him up to speed on the ovals. I have no doubt that Taku will be right on the pace immediately. Taku's knowledge and experience will be a great asset and his great sense of humour and easy manner will add positive energy to our team."
KV was a race-winner in Champ Car and has been a regular top 10 contender since joining the IndyCar Series, although Mario Moraes' third place at Chicagoland last year is its only podium in the championship to date.
The team also ran former HVM driver EJ Viso at Sebring this week, and could return to a two-car line-up for 2010 after only running Moraes for a full campaign last year. KV is also thought likely to field Paul Tracy in a limited program again.
Upcoming IndyCar Races
If IndyCar can not develop an open-wheel racing platform for the next generation to replace the Dallara (see DeltaWing Project), they can, at least, sign proven and tested open-wheel F1 race car champion to invigorate this series.
The season opens with the first of four road/street races:
- Sao Paulo, Brazil -March 14
- St. Petersburg, Florida - March 28,
- Barber Motosports Park -April 11,
- Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - April 18.