TORONTO — After what can best be described as a somewhat confrontational Saturday, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Takuma Sato’s Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto ended prematurely for the four-time NTT IndyCar Series winner.
Starting 10th, Sato moved into the top five during the first half of the 85-lap race at Exhibition Place before the No. 30 Panasonic/MiJack Honda went to pit lane on Lap 67 with flames coming out of the exhaust. That was the end of a strong drive.
“In the end, we lost power,” Sato said. “I don’t know exactly what happened but obviously we had to come in. It’s such a shame, we ran strong – it was a genuine fifth place, I think the strategy was on pace, the tires were under control, we overtook in a lot of places, it was a great race.”
Sato’s weekend had a bit of an interesting middle portion as the 2017 Indianapolis 500 champion had words on pit road with Sebastien Bourdais following Saturday’s practice session. The two engaged in a brief shoving match before being separated by a member of the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan team.
Sato managed to pass Bourdais’ No. 18 Mouser Honda on Lap 12 and remained ahead of him while still racing.
“We didn’t like what happened to each other, but I didn’t think anything was going to take place (in the race),” Sato said. “I think we both behaved professionally. I overtook him (in the race) but it was smooth -- nothing negative -- so I think it was genuinely a great race for us.”
The next NTT IndyCar Series race is Saturday at Iowa Speedway. Sato finished third at the .875-mile oval last year when the race was run on Sunday afternoon. This year’s winner at Barber Motorsports Park is looking forward to the competition under the lights at night.
The Iowa 300 begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Radio Channel 209 will have the call.
“I think it’s going to be a really tight race,” Sato said. “I think Iowa is such a compact place and is a battlefield the whole way through. Last year it was a daytime race and this year is a night race so conditions will be quite different. Hopefully we can bring a good package.
“Hopefully the car behaves similarly so we’ll have a competitive package but until we have first practice, nobody knows.”