2017 Indianapolis 500 champions Takuma Sato and Andretti Autosports have been presented with miniature versions of the famous BorgWarner Championship trophy to commemorate their victory in the event last year. Sato and Andretti Autosports team owner Michael Andretti have presented the trophies on Wednesday this week in Detroit.
“The fact is it’s January now,” Sato said. “It’s only four months away to the next Indy 500, and still we are receiving the trophy tonight, so it’s an absolute honour. I haven’t decided if it’s going to Indy or Japan, Anywhere will do.”
“It’s going to be a special feeling when you go to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May as the defending champion. I can’t imagine how it’s going to be like.
Sato and Andretti were presented with their own mini BorgWarner trophies by President and CEO of BorgWarner Inc., James Verrier. After the presentation, Andretti took to the stage to give his thanks to Sato for driving his car to victory back in May:
“His drive was phenomenal. He drove his way to the front there in the last 10 laps. He won that thing for us. We gave him a good car, but he drove it there, and it was big,” Andretti said of the victory, his second straight win in the event as a team owner, “I knew when he crossed that finish line that this is a big win, this is a historic win — being the first Japanese driver, driving a Honda, it was huge, and I’m so glad he was able to win it in our car.”
Sato will not be back behind the wheel of an Andretti Autosports cars for the upcoming 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series after having been dropped by the team in favour of rookie Zach Veach. Instead, Sato will return to his former team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, chaired by Bobby Rahal.
“Very appreciative with Michael, and the entire Andretti Autosport made it happen in 2017, but Bobby has been a big supporter of me after 2012, and we had to go different ways, but he’s been always supportive,” Sato said of his departure from Andretti and his return to Rahal, “Entire 2017 season, he wanted me back home, his team, and all those things come together, so I think 2018 will be a great season for everyone.”
Andretti shared his appreciation for his time with Sato as a driver, saying: “I miss Takuma. I think he was a lot of fun having on the team, and it’s a shame that he’s not going to be driving with us next year. With him, I have no problems. It’s his management.”
The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series get’s underway on March 11 with the Grand Prix of St Petersburg. Later on in the year, the series will head back to the Brickyard for the 2018 Indianapolis 500, the 102nd running of the event. Andretti Autosports will be going for their third straight win in the world-famous event, with Sato vying for his second with his new home at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.