Takuma Sato returned to Indianapolis late last week to wrap up some paperwork, have a physical assessment at his training facility and take in Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts home games.
It's back to work Dec. 18 for the Tokyo native and Colorado resident, who will climb back into the Honda-powered No. 14 ABC Supply car for a test session at Sebring International Raceway. A.J. Foyt Racing confirmed that Sato, who won at Long Beach in April, would be back for the 2014 IndyCar Series season.
The victory at Long Beach was the first for the team since 2002, and later in the season Sato delivered A.J. Foyt Racing's first pole since 1998. Overall, Sato recorded four top-10 finishes and led four races for a total of 187 laps (including a field-high 109 at Milwaukee). The Long Beach win was followed by a runner-up finish at Sao Paulo after starting 12th, and Sato led the championship standings heading into the Indianapolis 500.
"It is great news that I will continue to drive with ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing next year,” Sato said. “We had some great results in our first year. I know what the team is capable of and what I am capable of in the coming season.”
Chief engineer Don Halliday and performance engineer Raul Prados also will be on board for the third consecutive year with the Waller, Texas-based organization.
“Working with A.J., (team director) Larry (Foyt), Don and all the boys (and, of course, ladies) is just fantastic,” Sato added. “This team is really special for me. I always felt that the team was behind me and it gave me the confidence to go for the win in races. I’m very excited to continue to build this great relationship. We know what we need to focus on next year. We are anxious to test the new Honda (twin turbo) engine. From what I hear, the engine will put us in a great position to be up front more often in 2014. I am convinced that we can be a contender in the championship."
A.J. Foyt, who underwent successful knee replacement surgery on his right knee Dec. 12, said having everyone back "is a big plus."
“We came out strong but then had some problems midway through the season. We are making changes so we will get stronger as the season goes on, which I believe is the key to being one of the contenders in the title race,” the four-time Indianapolis 500 champion said.
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Added Larry Foyt: “Taku, our engineers and mechanics all gelled quickly last year, and getting to victory lane together was something we are all very proud of. We are focused on building on the positives from last season and working toward more victories and a higher standing in the championship. I know with Taku’s talent and our race team personnel, these are realistic goals.”