Sato aims for a top finish at Barber Motorspors Park in Alabama

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Takuma Sato on Barber Motorsport Park: "Average speed is high too so to get good balance for both aero and mechanical is the key."

Takuma Sato on Barber Motorsport Park: “I like the circuit, it has nice flowing high speed corners with good elevation changes. Also a couple of the corners are blind so it is always challenging here. It’s a quite unique and fast track –and it’s beautiful.”

Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda
Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Sato on where to pass: “At any of corners it’s possible to pass if the guy is out of shape, but mostly it’s very difficult because the entry speed is too high and didn’t have much opportunity to go alongside under the braking. But the hairpin is different so that is the most popular and only place to pass under the normal conditions.”

Sato on the track’s museum: “Very impressive. The first time I went there was in 2010--my first year in IndyCar. It was just such an amazing collection! Particularly it is a private collection and the world largest collections of motorcycles. There were also many different types of race cars plus historical things. Some of the collection is runnable which is impressive too. I think it is one of the nicest facilities anywhere, and as a circuit it is a great track.”

Sato on the key to success at Barber: “Need a good car! (laughs) I think it requires a really good balance. You spend a lot of time in cornering because it’s not 90-degree corners like a street course has, there are some long corners that you have to back on power before car pointing straight. So you need to have a good stability on entry but minimize a mid corner under-steer. Average speed is high too so to get good balance for both aero and mechanical is the key.

Sato on the last race at St. Pete: “It was a great way to start the season, especially up through qualifying we showed such a great performance—it was a very exciting moment. Unfortunately the race was a little different scenario. We had a couple of issues to address with but we fought hard to the end and particularly on the last stint we were able to put down a good pace and we were able to overtake some people to gain back some positions. Overall the result is not saying everything. I was happy and very positive about the team’s performance. We definitely are bringing some good momentum.”

Sato on the difference at Barber circuit from 2012 to 2013: “They ground the surface of the track since we raced there which made it a fresher and rough surface which made it grip more. Plus Firestone brought a new 2013 spec tires that also gave you more grip. With the combination of the two factors, we saw nearly three seconds gain – faster than last year. That was very impressive but it also meant we were at a different level of the cornering speed so you need to adjust the setup. I think we had a reasonably good test at Barber. On the test days we had very good track conditions— consistent and cool weather which also contributed to the increase in speed. On race weekend when it will be warmer, I expect the lap times to still be faster than last year even though the track conditions will be different from testing.”

Sato on March 27th private test at Texas Motor Speedway: “It’s good to be back on a speedway. It feels really fast when you jump in the car for the first time. It gets really comfortable quite quickly and we started to move on to the test program. Today temperature-wise it was good conditions but there’s so much gusty wind that it made the car unpredictable – it felt so different from one side of the track to the other. It’s a good exercise to try to achieve stability of the car because in conditions like today, you really need a stable car. With very little running I think we learned as much as we could and we made good improvement so I think it was a productive day.”

Past performance at Barber: Takuma Sato’s best start is 6th (2010) and his best finish is 16th (2011), both with KV. AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is fourth and their best finish is seventh, both with Mike Conway last year.

AJ Foyt Racing

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Preview
Tags aj foyt racing, barber motorsports park, birmingham, honda, indycar, sato