Sato claims season-opening pole at St. Pete

Sato claims season-opening pole at St. Pete

30 March 2014 – Takuma Sato will start on pole for tomorrow's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the inaugural race in the 2014 IndyCar Series season. Collecting his fourth career IndyCar pole, Sato qualified nearly 0.3 seconds ahead of second place Tony Kanaan, last year's Indianapolis 500 winner. The four-time defending pole-sitter, Will Power, will start P4 behind Andretti Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay.

An eventful day in St. Petersburg, Florida, saw the grandstands evacuated around midday for severe storms and a chance of tornados. Qualifying was pushed back for three and a half hours before the track was deemed safe enough to drive, and even then wet tyres weren't enough to prevent several spins and red flags.

Graham Rahal was the first to be caught off-guard by the weather, sliding into the wall early in the first session.  Defending race winner James Hinchcliffe followed suit with a minute to go, guaranteeing that he would not move on to the second round of qualifying. Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway, Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe advanced to Q2.

While the second half of the field took to the track for their Q1, the rain diminished slightly, but wet tyres were still needed. Times began to drop as a result, and Takuma Sato again finished the session P1. Moving on to Q2 with him were Scott Dixon, rookies Carlos Munoz and Jack Hawksworth, Power and Sebastian Saavedra.

As Q2 began, Conway, Briscoe and Sato immediately left the pits on slick tyres, hoping the drying track would play into their hands later in the session. Several minutes in, it appeared they had made the right choice. The rest of the field pitted to change to slicks, and by the end of Q2 lap times were equal to those from the dry practice sessions.

When time expired, it looked as though the British rookie Hawksworth would make it to the Firestone Fast Six, but there were still cars on track. Sitting on the bubble as the chequered flag came out, fellow rookie Munoz jumped him only for both to be eliminated by Dixon. Thus no rookies would make it to the pole shootout. Sato led the way ahead of Hunter-Reay, Power, Andretti, Kanaan and Dixon, meaning he had been fastest in three of the five sessions in which he'd taken part this weekend.

With the Fast Six decided, the final ten-minute Q3 began on a totally dry track. Everyone opted for the red-walled Firestone tyres and immediately saw some of the quickest laps of the weekend. A flurry of changes at the top of the time sheet eventually led to Sato in P1, just 0.0028s ahead of Kanaan. As the Brazilian pushed on his final lap he uneventfully spun into the Turn 1 runoff, ending his chances for pole. Sato responded with an even faster lap, stretching his lead to 0.3s before promptly entering pitlane for the final minute.

Kanaan and Hunter-Reay followed suit, leaving only Dixon, Power and Andretti to challenge the Japanese driver, but none of them improved on their final laps, giving Sato the fourth pole of his career.

Sato also started last year on a high note, qualifying second in last year’s season opener for A.J. Foyt Racing.  Two races later he qualified P4 en route to winning his first IndyCar event at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. He held the points lead going into the Indy 500, but a string of poor results relegated him to P17 in the final standings. During his brief IndyCar career, the former F1 driver also won pole in Edmonton, Iowa (both 2011) and Houston (2013).

Of the four rookies in the field this weekend, Munoz and Hawksworth will start in the top ten. Russian Mikhail Aleshin and Colombian Carlos Huertas will start P15 and P17, respectively. Fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, returning to IndyCar for the first time since 2000, will start P18.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Saturday 23 September 2017

  2. Rossi labels front row spot 'big surprise' 14:46

    Rossi labels front row spot 'big surprise'

    Valentino Rossi labelled his front-row grid spot for the Aragón Grand Prix as a "big surprise" after making an…

    MotoGP
  3. 14:08

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Aragón

    MotoGP
  4. 14:07

    Aragón Grand Prix: Qualifying 2 results

    MotoGP
  5. Viñales takes Aragón pole, Rossi third 14:04

    Viñales takes Aragón pole, Rossi third

    Movistar Yamaha's Maverick Viñales made it back-to-back pole positions during a thrilling qualifying session for the Aragón…

    MotoGP
  6. MotoGP confirms 2018 pre-season schedule 12:46

    MotoGP confirms 2018 pre-season schedule

    MotoGP organisers have confirmed the championship's pre-season test dates and venues for the 2018 campaign. As per usual, the…

    MotoGP
  7. F1 relaxes rules over current cars for demos 11:12

    F1 relaxes rules over current cars for demos

    Formula 1's Sporting Regulations have been relaxed in order to allow current-spec cars to be run at any demonstration events…

    F1
  8. 10:38

    Latest F3 photos: Saturday at Spielberg

    F3
  9. Ilott converts pole into victory in Austria 10:36

    Ilott converts pole into victory in Austria

    Prema's Callum Ilott took his fifth victory of the European F3 season with a lights-to-flag drive in the opening race of the…

    F3
  10. 10:00

    Aragón Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    MotoGP
  11. Márquez heads FP3 as Rossi makes Q2 09:59

    Márquez heads FP3 as Rossi makes Q2

    Reigning World Champion Marc Márquez led the way as all six manufacturers had a representative inside the top 10 during the…

    MotoGP
  12. Palmer: Points a weight off my shoulders 08:58

    Palmer: Points a weight off my shoulders

    Renault's Jolyon Palmer says scoring points in Singapore was a "weight off the shoulders" and feels he can tackle the remaining…

    F1
  13. Video: Ralf Schumacher's Formula 4 team 05:48

    Video: Ralf Schumacher's Formula 4 team

    Find out more about the US Racing ADAC Formula 4 team, run by ex-Formula 1 driver Ralf Schumacher and former Mercedes DTM boss…

    Misc
  14. Friday 22 September 2017

  15. 16:12

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  16. Video: IndyCar's new 2018 brake package 16:02

    Video: IndyCar's new 2018 brake package

    IndyCar technical guru Jon Beekhuis explains the technical advancements for the brake package on the series' 2018 car that will…

    Indy
  17. Formula 1 developing exhaust microphone 14:43

    Formula 1 developing exhaust microphone

    Formula 1 is developing a microphone that can be fitted to a car's exhaust to provide a "true amplification" of sound in the…

    F1
  18. 14:06

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Aragón

    MotoGP
  19. 14:00

    Aragón Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    MotoGP
  20. Pedrosa heads Lorenzo in second practice 13:58

    Pedrosa heads Lorenzo in second practice

    Honda rider Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets during second practice for Aragón Grand Prix, ahead of Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo…

    MotoGP
  21. Yamaha set to offer van der Mark test run 13:47

    Yamaha set to offer van der Mark test run

    Yamaha is set to offer Michael van der Mark a test on its MotoGP bike, with the Dutchman's planned debut at the Aragón Grand…

    MotoGP
  22. Red Bull adds four karters to Junior Team 12:22

    Red Bull adds four karters to Junior Team

    Red Bull has added four karters to its Junior Team line-up for the 2018 season. OK World Championship karter Dennis Haugar…

    Misc
  23. F1 to make classic race available online 12:01

    F1 to make classic race available online

    Formula 1's official website will make a classic Malaysian Grand Prix available online for fans to watch later this month, as…

    F1
  24. Video: Jaguar presents new car, new driver 10:48

    Video: Jaguar presents new car, new driver

    Jaguar introduces its new car and new driver for Formula E's fourth season, with inaugural series champion Nelson Piquet Jr.…

    FE
  25. 09:46

    Aragón Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    MotoGP
  26. Márquez fastest as Rossi returns at Aragón 09:44

    Márquez fastest as Rossi returns at Aragón

    Marc Márquez topped a wet opening practice session for the Aragón Grand Prix, as Valentino Rossi returned to action following…

    MotoGP
  27. China, Bahrain could swap places on roster 08:39

    China, Bahrain could swap places on roster

    Formula 1 commercial chief Sean Bratches is "incredibly optimistic" that China will remain on the calendar next season, though…

    F1
  28. Video: F1 pit-stop in the dark - making of 05:36

    Video: F1 pit-stop in the dark - making of

    Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Mercedes team partner EPSON challenged mechanics to complete a pit-stop in the dark. Go…

    F1
  29. Thursday 21 September 2017

  30. FIA amends Super Licence points for 2018 19:34

    FIA amends Super Licence points for 2018

    The FIA has restructured the Super Licence points system for 2018, with several championships having their allocation reduced…

    F1
  31. FIA outlines 2019 F3 International proposal 18:59

    FIA outlines 2019 F3 International proposal

    The FIA has outlined its ambition for the proposed FIA F3 International Championship, which is set to replace the current…

    F3
  32. Switzerland joins 2017/18 Formula E calendar 18:42

    Switzerland joins 2017/18 Formula E calendar

    Switzerland will feature on the Formula E calendar in the 2017/18 season, with a street race to take place in…

    FE
  33. Video: IndyCar Sonoma remix highlights 16:36

    Video: IndyCar Sonoma remix highlights

    Watch remix highlights of IndyCar's season-ending Grand Prix of Sonoma, in which Penske driver Josef Newgarden claimed his…

    Indy
  34. Sauber confirms Leclerc for four FP1 runs 15:09

    Sauber confirms Leclerc for four FP1 runs

    Sauber will field Ferrari-backed Charles Leclerc during four practice sessions over the remainder of the season, ahead of an…

    F1
  35. 15:04

    Overview: 2017/18 Formula E line-up so far

    FE
  36. Piquet Jr. joins Evans at Jaguar for S4 15:02

    Piquet Jr. joins Evans at Jaguar for S4

    Nelson Piquet Jr. has joined Mitch Evans at Jaguar for Formula E's fourth season. Ex-Formula 1 driver Piquet Jr. was crowned…

    FE
  37. 14:35

    Overview: Complete 2018 MotoGP line-up

    MotoGP
  38. Siméon signs for Avintia, completes '18 grid 14:33

    Siméon signs for Avintia, completes '18 grid

    Moto2 race winner Xavier Siméon will make the step up to MotoGP next season, joining Avintia on a two-year deal, in a move that…

    MotoGP
  39. Rossi passed fit to compete at Aragón GP 13:43

    Rossi passed fit to compete at Aragón GP

    Valentino Rossi has passed the medical check required to compete at this weekend's Aragón Grand Prix, just three weeks on from…

    MotoGP
  40. McLaren-Honda stint 'a proper disaster' 12:37

    McLaren-Honda stint 'a proper disaster'

    McLaren's latest partnership with Honda was "a proper disaster" for the team's credibility, says Racing Director Eric Boullier…

    F1
  41. Video: Verstappen 'moves on' from clash 12:18

    Video: Verstappen 'moves on' from clash

    Red Bull driver Max Verstappen vows to move on after his first-lap clash with Ferrari drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian…

    F1
  42. Barberá to step down to Moto2 with Pons 11:45

    Barberá to step down to Moto2 with Pons

    Héctor Barberá will step back down to Moto2 in 2018, after signing a deal with Pons, bringing to a close an eight-season spell…

    MotoGP
  43. Video: Singapore GP strategy analysis 10:12

    Video: Singapore GP strategy analysis

    Mercedes reflects on the strategies used at last weekend's dramatic wet/dry Singapore Grand Prix.

    F1
more news