Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing announced that Takuma Sato will be joining the organization as a full-time driver of the team’s No. 51 Dallara-Honda for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season.
Sato, a 44-year-old native from Tokyo, Japan, is a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 with six victories, 14 podiums, 10 poles and 902 laps led in 198 career starts (12 seasons) in the IndyCar circuit. He is coming off four full-time seasons with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, where he achieved his second Indy 500 victory in 2020 along with four victories, one pole, eight podiums and a career-best seventh-place result in the final standings in 2020. His first Indy 500 victory occurred in 2017 when he competed for Andretti Autosport and became the first Japanese competitor to win the 500.
“I am extremely excited that we were able to work out a deal with Dale, Rick and everyone at Dale Coyne Racing,” Sato said. “With Honda an integral part of Dale Coyne Racing, it seemed like a great fit. The team has proven year after year that they are very competitive on all types of circuits. Particularly the speed that team has shown in recent years at the Indy 500 were very impressive. I am really looking forward to working with my new environment and can’t wait to get started.”
Sato replaces Romain Grosjean and Pietro Fittipaldi, both of whom shared the No. 51 Honda throughout the 16-race schedule in 2021. Grosjean is set to compete as a full-time IndyCar competitor for Andretti Autosport while Fittipaldi will remain as a test and reserve competitor for Uralkali Haas F1 Team for the upcoming season.
Prior to making his inaugural presence in IndyCar competition in 2010 with KV Racing Technology, Sato, whose racing career started with karting, campaigned in seven seasons in Formula One (2002-2008). Making 90 career starts, he notched his first and only podium in F1 competition in the 2004 United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he finished in third place while driving for Lucky Strike BAR Honda team. He went on to conclude the 2004 F1 season in a career-best eighth place in the final driver’s standings.
Following his debut season in IndyCar in 2010, Sato spent another season with KV Racing before joining Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2012, where he earned two podium results. He then swapped to A.J. Foyt Enterprises in 2013, where he earned his first career victory in IndyCar competition at the Streets of Long Beach, California, in April. He would continue to compete with A.J. Foyt Enterprises through 2016 before campaigning in his first and only full-time season with Andretti Autosport in 2017. Sato’s transition to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2018 marked a reunion for the driver and the team, which spanned through this season until it was announced in early October that the Japanese competitor will not be remaining with the team for the 2022 season.
“Takuma has shown that he is one of the best drivers to ever race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES,” Dale Coyne, team co-owner, said. “Winning the famed Indianapolis 500 twice, we look forward to competing with our package of a good car with a great driver in the ‘500’ next year. All of us on our team welcome the very talented Mr. Sato into our fold for 2022.”
“I am excited to have Takuma join the Dale Coyne Racing with RWR family for 2022,” Rick Ware, team co-owner, added. “Takuma’s experience within motorsports is extensive, not just in the United States, but around the world. With Takuma’s experience, and vast knowledge of the cars, we are really looking forward to stepping up the program and having a successful season, and maybe even add another Indianapolis 500 win to his list of achievements.”
With a new team to call home for the upcoming IndyCar season, Sato is also primed to achieve a milestone start in what will be his 13th season in IndyCar competition. By competing in the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on March 20, he will make his 200th career start in the IndyCar circuit.
Sato is set to make his debut with Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing at the Streets of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and to commence the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season on February 27.