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DATE News (chronologically)
06/02/12
irl
Sato does not regret risky move at Indy  
Sato practicing in Detroit Friday
IndyCar/LAT USA
Japanese driver Takuma Sato has no regrets about taking his last-lap shot at Indianapolis 500 glory -- and blowing it.

Sato sensationally dived down the inside of leader Dario Franchitti on the first corner of the very last lap of an already exciting Indy 500 last Sunday, only to lose control and crash.

Some described the famously feisty former Formula One pilot's move as rash -- or worse -- and others labeled it heroic, applauding him for laying it on the line with so much at stake.

His lurid exit enabled Franchitti to cruise to his third Indy 500 crown, completing the final three-quarters of the lap under a caution brought out by Sato's crippled car against the wall.

Five days later at the next stop on the IZOD IndyCar Series tour, the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Sato was adamant he didn't regret his ill-fated lunge.

"Not at all, because I was going for the win and I (had) a chance," he said Friday at the Belle Isle street track in his first public appearance since the Indy 500. "The move was made before he (Franchitti) actually turned in (to Turn 1).

"If I have the same chance again, I do the same, but obviously having had experience on that one, perhaps I would do slightly different. But it was very close, anyway."

While many observers felt Sato should have waited until the second last turn of the last lap, drafting past Franchitti down the back straightaway of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sato maintained that his only chance was going into the first turn.

"I tried to overtake the Ganassi cars (at Turn 3) in an earlier part of the race -- it was impossible. I tried a couple of attempts and I knew it could not be done, so it had to be done in Turn 1, I knew it.

"At that time, I had no choice. The moment I dove under him, I thought it was job done. But instantly he decided to come back in (move down on him slightly), so I had to react instantly. So I was forced to go very low."

Sato's instinctive evasive action caused his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda to snap sideways, sending him across the track -- clipping the rear of Franchitti's machine on the way through -- and into the wall.

"It was just one of those unfortunate incidents that didn't come out as we wished," he said, showing remarkable composure in the wake of the victory-costing incident.

"I know Dario knew I was coming and I knew I was going to. It was just instantly. We're talking about a 225-m.p.h. turn-in, talking about a couple of inches' difference. Unfortunately, I was below the white line (that marks the inner apron of the track).

"I wanted to make sure not to contact him, so that was all my focus. It's just one of those unfortunate things."

Sato, who struggled to 22nd quickest in practice Friday for Sunday's Detroit GP, said his doomed overtaking move wasn't a silly gamble.

"It wasn't like throwing the (dice at) roulette," he said. "We weren't like that. It was a calculated move." Detroit Free Press

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