Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato will make his NTT IndyCar Series iRacing Challenge debut at Twin Ring Motegi on Saturday for the Firestone 175 in the No.30 Panasonic/Keihin Honda. The 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner has visited Motegi as an ambassador for Honda every year since winning the 500 and is looking forward to racing.
I was surprised when I saw INDYCAR will go to Twin Ring Motegi again! I have never raced in iRacing, but I have been watching the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge and was very impressed. I finally have my equipment this week and am thrilled about my debut in iRacing at Motegi; what amazing timing! The Japanese fans are already very excited and very happy that they can watch the current INDYCAR SERIES race in Motegi virtually. I have been visiting Twin Ring Motegi every winter as Honda held fan appreciation days. Honda’s riders and drivers attend and have a fun time. A lot of current and historical cars and bikes were making exhibition runs. However, my first time to drive an Indy car since 2010 on the oval in Motegi was at Honda Racing Thanks Day in 2017 when I drove the Andretti Autosport Indy 500-winning car. That was a very special moment. Even the engine was original, so everyone that attended at Motegi that day listened to the same exhaust note as May in Indianapolis. It was an absolutely amazing moment to share the time with loyal fans. Racing in front of home crowds is always very special, so you could imagine the Indy Japan days were crazy, but I am very fortunate to drive some very historical special cars in front of Japanese fans there still today. We missed racing in an INDYCAR race in Japan for a long time, but who could imagine we are going back there for virtual racing? We are living in extraordinary times at the moment, but this is an amazing story to be able to race an Indy car at virtual Twin Ring Motegi. The fact is that the Twin Ring Motegi oval was quite popular for drivers and a very tough track. Turns 1-2 are super-fast, but Turn 3 is very tight. There is not such an oval (anywhere) apart from some short ovals today where you have to brake and (make) two or three downshifts for every single lap! Overtaking is usually done by braking into the corner, just like a road course. I drove on virtual Motegi in iRacing for the first time on Thursday. The graphics look great. I can’t wait for the race!”
Graham Rahal in the No.15 Fifth Third Bank Honda is looking forward to the virtual race at Twin Ring Motegi saying:
I am very excited to return to a virtual Twin Ring Motegi circuit this weekend. It’s a track that I genuinely love and have had success at. While we are improving in our iRacing journey, I’m hopeful we can find our way to the front and pick up a W there this weekend for Fifth Third Bank and all of our partners. And, because it is an oval, there are a lot of laps and therefore a lot of potential to add to our Turns for Troops program with United Rentals.”