Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has felt moved to back its driver Takuma Sato over last Sunday’s Lap 1 five-car shunt at Pocono Raceway, following which the majority but not all expert opinion went against the 2017 Indy 500 winner.
While Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, whose car was struck by the #30 RLLR-Honda, remained angry at his rival, and NBC commentator Paul Tracy even called for IndyCar to consider a one-race ban for Sato who dominated this year’s race at Barber Motorsports Park, both Dario Franchitti and Sebastien Bourdais were more conciliatory, citing several extenuating circumstances.
The RLLR statement reads as follows:
“Following the events on Lap 1 of Sunday’s IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway, we are relieved that all drivers emerged unhurt from the crash.
“Normally in a situation of this nature it is not necessary for a team to comment but following the accusations levied at Takuma Sato, and after reviewing Takuma’s onboard data and camera, we feel that a clarification is necessary.
“The data and video clearly shows that Takuma did not turn down the track into Alexander in this incident and in fact the first steering wheel movement made by Takuma was to the right, as he tried to correct his car after the initial contact.
“This sort of accident is part and parcel of this type of racing and with track position being vital at every stage of each race is, in our view, a part of the sport. It’s a racing incident and we as a team wish to publicly state that we stand behind our drivers and have absolute faith in their ability to race and perform at the highest level for RLL.
“This was a racing incident which unfortunately may have some championship implications. A crash at Pocono impacted our title aspirations in 2015 while second in the standings, so we know the frustration drivers and teams experienced.
“As always, we are thankful for the quick response of the AMR Safety Team.”
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