In motorsports, you must be ready whenever something shows up and I feel like this came up in the right moment," he said. "Right now, I'm focusing only on this race and trying to deliver a good result to the team ... I'll take one step at a time."
While it's proven to be an opportunity for road course racers like Pantano and de Oliveira, the shift from the oval to the 2.98-mile, 14-turn clockwise natural-terrain road course for the final outing for IndyCar in Japan was enforced by the 9.0 earthquake in March earlier this year, which had left engineers with concerns about the structural integrity of the oval track.
There have also been concerns in some motorsports areas (especially MotoGP) about travelling to the area at all, after the meltdowns at nuclear reactors at nearby Fukushima,
"I don't think it's great," admitted Danica Patrick last week. "I don't want to make anyone mad but heck, yeah, I'm concerned!"
But Japanese driver Takuma Sato dismissed any anxieties anyone might have about the forthcoming event. "I have no hesitation to race at Twin Ring Motegi or in Japan. None," he said. "The entire country has come together to rebuild and make the country safe for all its countrymen and visitors."
Indianapolis Motor Speedway medical director Dr. Terry Trammel reported to the drivers and organisers that the radiation in the area was less than a sixth of that received by someone having a CT scan.
FIM - MotoGP's governing body, reassuring riders who had been publicly talking of boycotting the forthcoming motor cycling event - recently produced a report concluding that Rome has almost three times the radiation level as Motegi over a one-week period. F1 has no such concerns, as Suzuka is on the South Island at the opposite end of Japan for the forthcoming Grand Prix.
"Countless hours have been spent to ready the facility to race on the road course and I hope everyone looks forward to a safe and competitive event," said Sato. "I could not be happier to be part of the event with my fellow drivers and IndyCar race teams."
Sato will be joined on the grid by compatriot Hideki Mutoh
, who will be driving the #17 AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports.