Rahal Letterman Lanigan recently announced that they had signed Takumo Sato to drive for them in 2012.
“I think we all look forward to having him with us because, as I said earlier, he’s shown his pace over the last couple years in IndyCars,” co-owner Bobby Rahal says of the announcement. “As I said in the beginning when we reentered IndyCar racing, it was important for us to do so with someone who was going to be competitive. I had no real interest in just being here. Taku certainly fits that bill.
“I think we are quite excited for the start of the year. We have testing to do yet. We’ve done a little bit already in December which went I think pretty well. So I think everybody’s just anxious to get going.”
Rahal adds that he’s excited about working with Sato due to their friendship. The relationship between Rahal and Sato began back in 2001 when Sato was running Formula 3.
“I had a chance to see Taku not when he first started racing but when he was Europe in England in Formula 3 in 2001 when I was over there with Jaguar Formula One,” Rahal says. “I managed to watch Takuma win a lot of Formula 3 races. I think Formula 3 has always been considered a very good judge of talent.
“Of course, you know, I kept an eye on him when he was in Formula One. So I’ve known his competitiveness, his speed. I’ve seen that many times over the years.”
Sato says he made the move as Rahal offered him a good offer and the team has a great history.
“The numbers in racing is very impressive winning record,” Sato says. “It’s just great success. Okay, the IndyCar Series wasn’t entering full-time in a couple years, but they showing great speed last year every single time they were entering IndyCar. So I was very confident.”
Sato says he has high expectations for this year and excited about the new operation. The addition of Sato to the team isn’t the only change as Rahal moved the team to Brownsburg, Indiana over the off-season.
“It’s really become the center of IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis area,” Rahal says of the move. “You look at the resource that exists here within the area, both the human resource, but the subcontractors, what have you, that can provide services for an IndyCar team.
“It just seemed to me that we needed to be in sort of the epicenter of IndyCar racing now that we were going to come back into it on a full-time basis. So we managed to lease the space that Gil de Ferran used to be in from my friend Don Prudhomme. It’s a nice shop up here in Brownsburg. This is a start for us. But the IndyCar team will certainly be headquartered here for many years to come because we think this is the place to be both for now and in the future.”
Rahal added earlier this week that the team is looking into options of adding a second car to make the team better for 2012. Though if another team is not put together, it is okay.
“While a single-car team may not be ideal, I think your ability to be competitive is just as good there as anywhere else,” he says. “You’re able to focus all your efforts on one driver, one car, a small group of people tightly knit. That can do a lot of good things.
“In the end, if we have our options, we want to be a two-car team. We’re working hard for that. I think we will be. So that’s how we’re going forward at this stage.”