The double Indy500 winner Takuma Sato has found a new seat in the NTT IndyCar Series.
The 44-year-old Japanese driver will be racing the 2022 season for Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing in car #51, where he replaces Romain Grosjean.
Sato is hugely experienced in single-seaters. After having raced Formula 3 in his home country, he travelled to Europe in 1999, and won the British Formula 3 Championship two years later.
That gave him the ticket to Formula 1, where Honda placed him at Jordan. That was followed by three seasons at BAR Honda, before he was moved to the Japanese Super Aguri outfit. His Formula 1 opportunities dried out, when Super Aguri pulled out in early 2008, and Honda pulled the plug at the end of the season.
So he moved to Indycar in 2010, starting out with two seasons at KV Racing, before Rahal Letterman Lanigan ran him for one year. That was followed by four years at A. J. Foyt Enterprises, until they lost their main sponsor, and had to demand more money from their drivers. So not even the advantages that Honda would give the team was enough to compensate for that.
He raced 2017 for Andretti Autosport, where he won his first Indy500, before moving back to Rahal Letterman Lanigan for four seasons, where he claim another win at the Brickyard in 2020.
The 2020 victory was probably what gave him the seat for 2021 as well, but RLL had other drivers knocking on the door for 2022, so they no longer were able to retain him, plus the results – other than Indy500 – wasn’t too great either.
There have been doubts for quite some time, if Taku would get a 2022 Indycar seat at all, but the DCR w. RWR combination stepped in, and gave him the opportunity. It will give the team huge exposure in Japan, where he still is seen as a massive hero, including meeting the president after his wins at Indianapolis.
Romain Grosjean has moved on himself, since he signed with Andretti Autosport almost three months ago, which on the other hand pushed Ryan Hunter-Reay out on the bench. We still don’t know about his future, or chances of finding a full season seat, or if it will be Indy500 only.