Sato hopes Indy 500 win inspires next Japanese generation

Takuma Sato says he hopes his Indianapolis 500 victory will inspire the next generation of Japanese drivers to pursue careers in IndyCar.

Sato hopes Indy 500 win inspires next Japanese generation
Winner Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda crosses the finish line and the yard of bricks under the checkered flag for the win
Winner Takuma Sato with team owner Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport Honda
Winner Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda, Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing Honda, Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Takuma Sato, Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport team owner Autosport Honda celebrates the win in Victory Lane with Japanese Flag
Winner Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport Honda
Takuma Sato, Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport team owner Autosport Honda celebrates the win in Victory Lane with Indy 500 ring

The Andretti Autosport driver prevailed in a thrilling showdown against Helio Castroneves in the closing laps of Sunday’s race, becoming the first Japanese driver ever to earn the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Sato has been the sole Japanese driver in the Indy 500 field since his second season in 2011, despite Honda powering over half of this year’s field.

But the 40-year-old ex-Formula 1 star hopes more of his compatriots will be motivated to try to follow in his wheeltracks in years to come.

“I certainly hope so,” said Sato on Monday when asked if his achievement could inspire more Japanese drivers to try IndyCar.

“I mean, I want to see the new generation. As long as I can drive, I want to teach them, of course, but beat me and come up and then get even better.”

Honda currently backs a number of young Japanese prospects racing in European single-seater series, such as Nobuharu Matsushita, Nirei Fukuzumi and Tadasuke Makino, but not on the Mazda Road To Indy ladder.

“I think that there are a lot of potential young Japanese drivers out there, and there are a few of them in Europe,” Sato continued. “Unfortunately we haven't really seen the up-and-coming young Japanese drivers in the States.

“But after this result, I'm sure there are many, many drivers who wanted to achieve that one, and here in the States, there is a great pyramid and scholarship system from the junior formulas until Indy Lights and IndyCar.

“There's always great opportunity, and Honda is committed to this series, and I'm here to help anything.”

Sato also revealed the level of interest his win generated in his home country, which led to his phone being “abuzz” late into the evening as Japan woke up to the news on Monday morning.

“Since [the] checkered flag I've probably done 30 interviews, and it's really nice,” said Sato. “It's nice to talk. I was exhausted, but somehow kept on going because I think the race just pumped me up.

“I went to bed at 3am, actually, because by that time my phone was just abuzz, exposure, the explosion from Japan, it being in the daytime.

“It's just fantastic. Everybody is so happy, and I've got… I don't know, probably hundreds, thousands emails by now. It’s just great.”

shares
comments
Rookie Jones believes he had the car to win Indy 500

Previous article

Rookie Jones believes he had the car to win Indy 500

Next article

Alonso wins Indy 500 Rookie of the Year over Jones

Alonso wins Indy 500 Rookie of the Year over Jones
Load comments
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021
IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet Prime

IndyCar young guns are great, but the elders aren’t done yet

The ace 20-somethings in IndyCar have risen to become title contenders, but the best of the series veterans are digging deep and responding – and will continue to do so over the next couple of years, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Aug 20, 2021
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021