Honda, Sato Lead the Way at Indy Car Pre-Season Open Test
• Takuma Sato quickest in three of four practice sessions
• Graham Rahal and new teammate Sato run 1-2 Friday night as Honda-powered Rahal Letterman Lanigan drivers lead every full-field session
• 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series opens March 11 in St. Petersburg, Florida
AVONDALE, Ariz. (Feb. 10, 2018) – Defending Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato dominated the time sheets Friday and Saturday at ISM Raceway, leading three of four full-field practice sessions and finishing second to teammate Graham Rahal in the fourth during the Verizon IndyCar Series Open Test in preparation for the 2018 season.
The Honda-powered Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing duo paced the 23-driver field throughout the two-day event, which included afternoon and evening sessions each day. Sato led the first three-hour session on Friday, and both practices on Saturday, while teammate Rahal and Sato ran 1-2 on Friday night.
Rahal ended the test fifth overall as Honda drivers claimed six of the top-10 speeds in the combined results. Andretti Autosport drivers Marco Andretti and Alexander Rossi finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Scott Dixon ended the test ranked eighth, despite a crash in the final 45 minutes of the final practice, while Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top-10 in his Andretti Autosport Honda.
The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season opens on March 11 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda) 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner, fastest in IndyCar Series Open Test this weekend at ISM Raceway: “The open test was very successful, I would say. There were a lot of things to do, and lots of things to be tried. I think over the course of two days we learned a lot. The new car is great [with a new aerokit bodywork for 2018], definitely more exercise for the drivers, definitely busier with low downforce. We did qualifying simulations and race traffic runs. I think the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team is really strong, so I’m really looking forward to two more road course tests [prior to the start of the season], and hopefully we’ll be ready for St. Petersburg.”
Allen Miller (Race Team Principal, Honda Performance Development) on this weekend’s open test: “This being a test weekend, you can’t read too much into the results, and there is still a lot of work for us to do prior to the start of the season. But we are very satisfied with the results from these last two days here at ISM Raceway. We’re looking forward to the start of racing next month in St. Petersburg, and to seeking our fifth victory in the last seven years at the Indianapolis 500.”