Two-time and defending Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato will return to the RLL Racing stable next season. The team announced early this morning that they have signed the 43-year old Japanese driver. It was an expected move, but one that is now official. The team could potentially add a third car next season, should the funding materialize. Teammate Graham Rahal has not won a race this season, but the two have been a formidable duo. Heading into this weekend’s season finale, Rahal and Sato sit 6th and 7th in the championship standings. The full press release from today is below.
[Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Press Release]
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL) announced today that the team has come to terms with 2020 Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. 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 team’s second Indy 500 win in 2020. The 2021 season will be his fourth consecutive with RLL, and fifth overall.
“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.”
In addition to his six series wins, Sato has earned a total of 10 pole positions including one this season for Race 2 of the Bommarito 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) on August 30. He also finished second in Race 1 of the Bommarito 500 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. His highest series, season-ending point-standing 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.”
“I am very excited to continue with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the 2021 season,” said Takuma Sato. “The 2020 season was an unforgettable one for many reasons. Needless to say, it was an extremely challenging situation world wide 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.”
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 wins in the 2017 and 2020 Indianapolis 500, 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, 2018 Portland Grand Prix, 2019 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and Bommarito 500 at WWT Raceway, with four of the six coming with RLL. Of his 14 podium finishes to date, 10 have come with RLL and he has earned 10 Indy car poles, three of which are with RLL. Prior to joining the INDYCAR SERIES, he competed in 90 Formula One races between 2002-2008 with his highest finish of third at the 2004 United States Grand Prix.