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
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’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
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Jun 2, 2021