Takuma Sato, RLL, IndyCar, Pocono, 2019

Sato’s team says data clears him of blame for Pocono crash


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Takuma Sato’s IndyCar team says data from his car during last weekend’s Pocono 500 clears him of blame for the first-lap crash which involved five drivers.

Sato has publicly disputed the cause of the crash with Alexander Rossi, who he tangled with approaching turn two, triggering a spectacular shunt which also claimed Ryan Hunter-Reay, Felix Rosenqvist and James Hinchcliffe.

Rossi, who lost ground to championship rival Josef Newgarden following the crash, initially described Sato’s driving as “disgraceful” and accused his rival of steering left into him. This prompted the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver to post images and video on social media which he claimed exonerated him.

“I think you’ll find that if you watch the video, it was you moving down trying to get ole Scotty D’s [Scott Dixon’s] tow which caused this whole situation,” Rossi responded.

RLL has now entered the debate, issuing a statement describing the crash as a “racing incident” and insisting its driver was not to blame.

“Normally in a situation of this nature it is not necessary for a team to comment but following the accusations levied at Takuma, and after reviewing Takuma’s onboard data and camera, we feel that a clarification is necessary,” said RLL’s statement.

“The data and video clearly shows that Takuma did not turn down the track into Alexander in this incident and in fact the first steering wheel movement made by Takuma was to the right, as he tried to correct his car after the initial contact.

“This sort of accident is part and parcel of this type of racing and with track position being vital at every stage of each race is, in our view, a part of the sport. It’s a racing incident and we as a team wish to publicly state that we stand behind our drivers and have absolute faith in their ability to race and perform at the highest level for RLL.

“This was a racing incident which unfortunately may have some championship implications. A crash at Pocono impacted our title aspirations in 2015 while second in the standings so we know the frustration drivers and teams experienced. As always, we are thankful for the quick response of the AMR Safety Team.”



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Keith Collantine
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22 comments on “Sato’s team says data clears him of blame for Pocono crash”

    1. IndyCars turn left if the wheel is pointed straight. Take that into consideration when analyzing videos of this incident.

    2. If you steer straight in an IndyCar set up for an oval it will naturally pull to the left. Sato would’ve had to turn slightly right to stay straight, not after initially contact as RLL explained.

      1. Watching the Sato onboard, on the straights before the crash you can see his steering wheel is straight. So however his car is setup when the wheel is straight the car is driving in a straight line, whichever way the front wheels are pointed.

        However… it’s impossible to tell from the video whether he’s actually steering straight or not the instant before the initial contact because the wheel is see-sawing a bit, probably because of turbulence. You’d need to see the raw data from both cars to be conclusive.

        1. I think some of that “see-sawing” is because of contact with another car.

      2. @gdog They tend to have things setup now so that even though the setup of the car pulls it left the steering wheel is fitted so that it remains straight & drivers no longer have to turn right to go straight.

        When the wheels were round they would just put tape on the top to show the driver what straight was but with modern wheel shapes differing between teams/drivers it can be uncomfortable & difficult for a driver to hold the wheel right. Additionally with them having the LCD display, Dials & buttons they want all these to be easy to read & in the same place when drivers need to quickly & without looking make adjustments & it’s easy to do all that when the wheel is straight.

        1. @gt-racer Yep, that’s exactly what I imagined. I’m just using the video evidence to counter all the people saying his wheel is straight therefore he’s going left.

  1. Some technical background info. On ovals the cars are staggered so they naturally want to turn to the left all the time with the way the suspension etc have been set up. To counter this effect the drivers need to turn to right on the straights to make the car go straight. Of course it is annoying if your steering wheel points to the right on straights when you want to go straight and when you have best opportunity to read the display on your steering wheel. So every team adjusts the steering wheel little bit so on straights the wheel is straight despite the front wheels being turned little bit to the right to counter the way the car naturally wants to turn left.

    I am not going to make any comments about whose fault it is but the direction where the steering points on that video doesn’t tell which way the car is turning. A normal car in 99% of the cases goes straight when the wheel is straight but in oval car that is not the case.

    1. John Toad (@)
      21st August 2019, 5:03

      All you need to do is watch the head-on shots at any of the banked ovals to see the line of cars come off the corner and head for the inside of the track.
      It’s all part of the setup for oval racing, unless the driver is correcting it the car will automatically turn left.

        1. As I said, watch head-on video from this years Indy 500. All the cars turn left as they come off the banked corners.

          1. Now watch satos video before the crash. Wheels straight, steering wheel straight, line straight.

  2. If the wheel is straight it wont go right. It’ll go left. He misjudged it, its really clear. The other guys, clearly shaken, were asked 5 minutes later their opinion that’s clear as well. You ask anyone after a 200mph crash that sees someone go up into the catch fencing a la Wickens and you will get emotion speaking not logic. Sato messed up but he didn’t turn left, the car did as per how its set up. It was a rookie error by a vet and a rookie response from him also.

    1. If the wheel is straight it wont go right. It’ll go left.

      That used to be the case but teams offset the steering now on ovals so that the wheel is straight even though the car has a bit of right hand lock in it.

      When the steering wheels were round you could get away with putting a bit of tape at the top to give drivers a visual of what is straight & they could just alter there hand position to accommodate a bit of right hand down. But with modern wheel shapes it’s not so practical to do that & you also have the LCD display, Dials & buttons so they just offset the wheel position to keep it straight.

      Some teams/drivers do still leave things as they are but most change the offset.

      Will power has it offset so the wheel remains straight – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dECir6hBOM
      Alonso opted not to so had to turn right slightly – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNH9eL6GKXI

      1. Fair point. Its not clear cut and he certainly didn’t steer left. He did cause an accident though, no Sato scissor, no accident. Harsh but that has to be the judgement on ovals. Unless something breaks the driver is in charge of his and to a degree other drivers destiny. Ferrucci called it right when he suggested as much and he IS a rookie. Keep your eye on him, very impressive so far.

    2. If you look at the footage its actually Rossi driving at a slight angle towards the outside. Sato is completely straight. Rossi should have looked into his mirror better and left Sato more space.
      Its Rossi hitting the back wheel of Sato because he keeps going to the right.

  3. If you look at the onboard of Sato, Rossi and Rahal it is clear that Sato went straight and Rossi went up a little.

    No fault of Sato imho.

    1. Sato came up alongside incredibly late and it was dangerous to even attempt to go 3 wide at that moment in the approach to that corner. Regardless of who steered which way he gave no space at all despite knowing he made 3 wide and he said afterwards he didnt even know rossi was still there which shows lack of awareness, it was a crazy move

      1. Late or not, Rossi should have corrected his line. He hit satos rear wheel so he definetely saw him there and still didnt make a correcting steering move.

    2. But Rossi and RHR were gradually going up for a decent bit of time, Sato shouldve realised and changed his line. Not outrageously dangerous driving, but still his fault imo. Needs to be more observant

      1. Valinor@live.nl
        22nd August 2019, 21:02

        Then why dont you tell rossi to be more observant. Should have looked in his mirror and could have corrected his line when he saw sato to his right. Its rossi hitting the rear wheel of sato.

  4. Where is the actual data supporting their claim? Did they present this and I missed it?

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