Takuma Sato Signs With RLL for 2012 IndyCar Season

February 3, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Takuma Sato celebrates winning the pole after qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series Indy Edmonton, July 23, 2011. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Takuma Sato celebrates winning the pole after qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series Indy Edmonton, July 23, 2011. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Ex-F1 pilot and former KV Racing team member Takuma Sato has found a ride for the 2012 IndyCar season, with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

The 35-year-old Sato, who scored two poles, three top-fives, and seven top-ten finishes in 2011, will drive the No. 15 RLL Dallara.

“We anticipate having a very strong season together,” team co-owner Bobby Rahal said on the team website. “While we were determined to have an experienced driver for this season, we also needed someone that knew how to get to the front and Takuma has shown that he can do that, and we expect to have a great opportunity to win races this year.

“He has made great strides through the last two seasons in IndyCar and I have no doubt that we can produce a strong effort with him leading the team.”

Sato started karting at age 19, in 1996. By 1998 he was racing in F3, and in 2000 moved up to the British F3 series, where he won 16 races in two seasons, and took the 2001 title.

Sato then stepped up to Formula One with the Jordan team. After stints with BAR and Super Aguri, Sato was left without a ride when Super Aguri folded in 2008. The Japanese driver switched to IndyCar, signing with KV Racing in 2010 and 2011. Though he earned a reputation for crashing, he was also fast, and in 2011 curbed his recklessness and achieved good results, finishing 13th with the underfunded KV Racing squad.

RLL Racing has not run a full-time IndyCar team since 2008, instead concentrating on running its championship-winning BMW team in the American Le Mans Series. With BMW focusing on DTM, RLL has decided to split its resources: RLL will defend its ALMS titles and also return to IndyCar with a two-car team. Details of the driver and sponsor for the second car will be announced soon, according to IndyCar.com.