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IndyCar Indianapolis 500

Sato: Rahal’s Indy 500 car “very different” compared to 2021

Takuma Sato says his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing ride has an “interesting” feeling around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, compared to his last stint with the team in 2021.

Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

RLL has struggled mightily with pace, particularly in qualifying, for the Indianapolis 500 in each of the last two years, with a best start of 21st out of its seven entrants over that time.

Last year featured a low point, with Graham Rahal failing to make the field of 33 as three of its four cars participated in Last Chance qualifying; the other started 29th.

Sato ran full-time with Dale Coyne Racing in 2022 before a partial effort with Chip Ganassi Racing last year.

A two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, including 2020 with RLL, Sato expressed his thoughts on the current state of RLL’s cars and revealed that his expertise was greatly desired by co-owner Bobby Rahal.

“Yeah, it was very interesting,” said Sato, 47. “After I departed two years ago, obviously last year was certainly the most challenging year for them at the 500, which is why probably Bobby kept calling me: ‘Taku, when are you going to come back?’

“But I'm very fortunate to be called back to the team. Half of the team members are really familiar faces, and the new members and engineering has been updated so much since I left.

“Really happy to be back in the car, and we are just trying to find the back-to-back [setups], which car is feeling better in terms of the performance. We really need to rely on the engineers, but they're doing a good job.”

Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda

Photo by: Geoffrey M. Miller / Motorsport Images

When pressed by Motorsport.com to shed light on what exactly is “interesting”, the Japanese driver added: “Well, you can't really describe it because the car is mentally, physically it's a very, very similar car, so there is a little bit of manipulation of a setting, it's just the sensation is very different.

“But you could say day by day – from yesterday to today, wind direction is 180 degrees different and the car feels very different too, and that kind of window is very, very narrow. But it's a relative thing, isn't it?

“Today I think we found ourselves happier than last year for sure, and, for me, the car is not there yet, where I want it, but there are some few signs that's quite promising, so we will see for the next few days we can gather together, if we can speed it up.”

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