ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – Though there was little doubt, if any, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing made it official Saturday morning that two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato of Japan will return to the team next year.
Sato scored his second Indy 500 victory on August 23 when he drove the No. 30 Honda to victory to give the team its second Indy 500 triumph, as well. The first for Sato was 2017 with Andretti Autosport. The first for the team was 2004 with Buddy Rice as the driver.
“I am very pleased that we were able to come to terms with Takuma to continue with us in 2021,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “Clearly it has been a successful partnership over the last several years, culminating in this year’s Indy 500 victory and I look forward to further success with Takuma throughout 2021.”
Sato first joined the team in 2012 and returned in 2018. He has earned six wins in the series to date, four of which have come with the team, including the Indy 500 this year.
The 2021 season will be his fourth consecutive year with RLL and fifth overall.
“I am very excited to continue with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the 2021 season,” said Sato. “The 2020 season was an unforgettable one for many reasons. Needless to say, it was an extremely challenging situation worldwide, but the team continued to work very hard to be competitive under the difficult circumstances and Bobby, Mike and the entire team deserve huge credit for this.
“Our Indy 500 win was a truly special moment and I want to thank everyone at the team again. We are already focused on the future and I am really looking forward to 2021.”
In addition to his six series wins, Sato has earned a total of 10 pole positions, including one this season for race two of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway on Aug. 30.
Sato also finished second in race one of at WWTR and has led a total of 172 laps so far this season. He is ranked seventh in NTT IndyCar Series point standings, with 328 heading into this weekend’s season finale.
Sato’s highest finish in points is eighth in 2017.
“It has been a pleasure working with Takuma for many years and sharing with him all of the successes he has had,” said Mike Lanigan, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Bobby Rahal and David Letterman. “Winning the Indy 500 together exceeded my own dreams and we at RLL look forward to more success in the new season. Having Takuma back with our team in 2021 provides continuity and will allow us to build upon the competitiveness we have shown this season.”
Sato, a native of Tokyo, Japan, has made 181 starts in the IndyCar Series since his rookie season in 2010. His Indy car highlights include his two Indianapolis 500 wins, as well as victories in the 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, 2018 Portland Grand Prix, 2019 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the Bommarito 500.
Of his 14 podium finishes to date, 10 have come with RLL, as have three of his 10 poles.
Prior to joining the IndyCar Series, Sato competed in 90 Formula One races between 2002-2008, with a best finish of third at the 2004 United States Grand Prix.