Monday's wildly up and down Itaipava Sāo Paulo Indy 300 resulted in an eighth-place finish for KV Racing Technology-Lotus driver Takuma Sato, although the Japanese driver had appeared set to do a lot better than that for a sizable portion of the rain-delayed event.
Five laps after the resumption of the race on Monday, Sato passed Ryan Briscoe for second place. Then, on the restart following the second caution, he overtook Will Power for the lead. Sato led the next 23 laps – the first of his IndyCar career – but late in the race it became obvious he would not get the final caution he needed to finish the race with the fuel he had. On lap 49 of the 55-lap contest he pitted for a splash of fuel, dropping him back to eighth at the flag.
“We came to this race expecting to be competitive, but after practice and qualifying it was clear that we weren't at the top level in dry conditions,” Sato said. “However, yesterday, even though I have never driven an IndyCar in wet conditions and never used the wet tire, I was immediately comfortable.”
Although he conceded that ultimately his team's tactics proved a mistake, Sato remained enthusiastic about his performance.
“I really enjoyed the race. Every time we had a restart I was able to gain positions and overtaking the two Penske cars was very exciting,” he added. “Once I got in the lead I was able to control the pace and was saving fuel massively. However, in the end our strategy did not work and, in hindsight, we should have pitted for fuel during the final caution because we were not in a position to take a gamble. It was a shame we did not make it, but I want to thank the entire team for all their hard work this weekend.”
Team co-owner Jimmy Vasser said, “Taku drove like a champion today. He earned the title as the new rain master. Unfortunately, the team made the wrong call. At the time, we felt there was a high probability there would be at least one more yellow, which is all we needed to finish the race. At the end of the day we made the wrong call – but Taku showed today that his first win is not far away.”