Takuma Sato’s team says the veteran driver is not at fault for Sunday’s first lap IndyCar crash at Pocono.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan is publicly standing behind driver Takuma Sato following his involvement in Sunday’s first-lap NTT IndyCar Series incident at Pocono Raceway.
In real time, it appeared as if Sato took Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay three-wide heading towards Turn 2 before turning left into both, triggering the five-car melee that also collected James Hinchcliffe and launched Felix Rosenqvist nose-up and towards the catchfence.
Following a review of video evidence and steering data, the team is adamant that Sato is not at fault.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan released the following statement on Tuesday night:
“Normally in a situation of this nature it is not necessary for a team to comment but following the accusations levied at Takuma Sato, and after reviewing Takuma’s onboard data and camera, we feel that a clarification is necessary. The data and video clearly shows that Takuma did not turn down the track into Alexander in this incident and in fact the first steering wheel movement made by Takuma was to the right, as he tried to correct his car after the initial contact.
“This sort of accident is part and parcel of this type of racing and with track position being vital at every stage of each race is, in our view, a part of the sport. It’s a racing incident and we as a team wish to publicly state that we stand behind our drivers and have absolute faith in their ability to race and perform at the highest level for RLL.
“This was a racing incident which unfortunately may have some championship implications. A crash at Pocono impacted our title aspirations in 2015 while second in the standings so we know the frustration drivers and teams experienced. As always, we are thankful for the quick response of the AMR Safety Team.”
As the statement points out, the involvement of Rossi greatly impacted the Andretti Autosport driver’s chances at winning the title as the incident dropped him from 16 to 35 points behind Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
Rossi hurtled several accusations towards Sato, blaming him for the incident, while Sato himself suggested that Rossi was pinched by Hunter-Reay and towards himself.
“I can’t even begin to understand how after last year Takuma thinks that is acceptable,” Rossi said, referencing the similar incident at Pocono in 2018 that left Robert Wickens paralyzed. “It’s disgraceful and it’s unacceptable.”
Sato was contrite after the incident but did not accept blame.
“I feel sorry for the guys,” Sato said said. “Ryan and I were obviously racing (out of) Turn 1, and it looks like Alexander had a slow start and we went left and right (of him). I thought I was clear, and unfortunately we got together.”
The incident was reviewed following the race by the sanctioning body and no further action was taken.
I think you’ll find that if you watch the video, it was you moving down trying to get ole Scotty D’s tow which caused this whole situation. ??♂️??♂️ #tryagain https://t.co/nc2lP4bFtG
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