Power tops opening Motegi practice, Sato crashes again
Takuma 'Crash' Sato on his way out of the pits to wad up yet another Dallara Honda
There was a collective gasp from the large crowd at Twin Ring Motegi assembling for practice-qualifying day as the No. 5 Lotus car for KV Racing Technology spun and backed into the SAFER Barrier between Turns 1 and 2 early in the morning session.
Takuma Sato was checked at the infield care center and cleared to drive. An oil line failure spewed oil onto the rear tire, causing the car to spin. The Holmatro Safety Team laid a chemical substance to soak up oil from the start/finish line all the way to the point of impact.
“The good news is the primary car looks good and the crew are going to repair it," said Sato, who was on his sixth lap during the first practice session for the Indy Japan 300 on the 1.5-mile track. "It’s disappointing but at least I’m fine."
He is expected to join the field midway through the 60-minute session (11:30 p.m. ET live on indycar.com) that precedes qualifications (2:30 a.m. ET). He drew the 18th spot for two-lap qualifying. Sato, who competed on the road course at Twin Ring Motegi in Formula One as recently as 2007, is making his debut on the oval.
IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader Will Power, also making his debut on the track, turned the most laps (53) of the 25 drivers and topped the speed chart for the practice with a lap of 201.245 mph (27.1908 seconds).
Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, a three-time pole sitter and 2006 winner here, was second (200.010 mph; 27.3587 seconds) and Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon (199.866) was third. He won in 2004 and '05.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Dario Franchitti, 17 points behind Power entering the 200-lap race, was sixth (198.229).
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