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Sato confirms seat at Rahal Letterman Lanigan

Former F1 star Takuma Sato will race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2012, the Japanese driver confirmed this morning on his website.
Takuma Sato is to race for the rejuvenated Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team in 2012, the Japanese former F1 driver announced in a team press release published on his personal website on Friday.

“RLL is extremely pleased to welcome Takuma to our IndyCar team for 2012, and we anticipate having a very strong season together,” the press release quoted team co-owner Bobby Rahal as saying.

"I'm very proud, motivated and excited to be chosen by Bobby to join his big project,” responded Sato in turn.

Sato moved to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010 with KV Racing Technology after seven seasons in F1 with Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri. He had a strong second season in the series in 2011 and became the first Japanese driver to ever claim pole position in IndyCar. He went on to earn earn three top-five finishes, seven top-10s and lead 61 laps on his way to a 13th place finish in the point standings.

For 2012, he will take the wheel of the Honda-powered #15 RLL Dallara, with Rahal explaining that the team needed the blend of development and race experience together with raw speed that Sato offered.

"While we were determined to have an experienced driver for this season, we also needed someone that knew how to get to the front and Takuma has shown that he can do that," said Rahal. "He has made great strides through the last two seasons in Indy Car and I have no doubt that we can produce a strong effort with him leading the team."

2012 will be the first time that the Rahal Letterman Lanigan will compete in their full season of IndyCar racing since Ryan Hunter-Reay led the team in 2008. In previous years the squad had won the 1992 championship with Bobby Rahal himself at the wheel, as well as the 2004 Indianapolis 500 with Buddy Rice.

"Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has got a great history and record of winning so my motivation is ever so high and I am extremely thrilled to start the new season," said Sato. "This team I feel has got huge potential."

The team faces something of a steep climb to get up to speed in time for the start of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season on March 25 at St Petersburg, with Sato the first driver to be announced and the team not yet having taken part in any of the pre-season test sessions going on at Palm Beach and at Sebring International Raceway since the end of last year.

"With a new car for everybody, I am confident that we'll be up to speed very quickly," assured Sato.

The team are yet to confirm who will be sponsoring their 2012 campaign, or who will be in their second car assuming that the financial backing means that they are able to run one as hoped.

Pippa Mann raced for the team last year and has good relations with team co-owner Bobby Rahal; fellow Brit Jay Howard is another option as is Belgium's Bertrand Baquette, after he caused a stir when he briefly took the lead during the final laps of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in May while driving for RLL.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Bobby Rahal watches on from pit road [Photo Credit: IndyCar Media]
Pippa Mann on track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. August 2011. [Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Takuma Sato celebrates his maiden IndyCar Series pole - the first time a Japanese driver has ever claimed pole position in the series. [Photo credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Takuma Sato watches on from the pit lane during practice at the Milwaukee Mile in June 2011. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
Takuma Sato will start from the pole position after winning the Verizon P1 Award. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato will start from the pole position after winning the Verizon P1 Award. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato will start from the pole position after winning the Verizon P1 Award. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato and A.J. Foyt after winning pole. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato and A.J. Foyt after winning pole. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato with the Verizon P1 Award. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato in action in qualifying at St Petersburg. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Takuma Sato in St. Pete -- Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media
Takuma Sato in St. Pete -- Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media
Takuma Sato in St. Petersburg (Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal in car (Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Charlie Kimball, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, Mike Conway, Will Power, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato, Mike Conway, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal (Photo Credit: John Hendrick for IndyCar Media)

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Ric - Unregistered

February 11, 2012 12:31 AM

To paraphrase Douglas Adams, calling Taku a former F1 "star" is a obviously a use of the word which I was previously unfamiliar with.

Ricky - Unregistered

February 05, 2012 3:49 PM

Good luck Sato! Nice 6+ minute on track testing video of Tony Kanaan at speedtv dot com. The turbo whistle at shutdown makes it sound like a jet engine. Cool stuff.



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