Courtesy of Red Bull Air Race Media Service
At the holy grail of motorsport – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato met fellow countryman and Red Bull Air Race pilot Yoshihide Muroya to discuss the art of motorsport. The season finale this weekend will determine whether Muroya brings home Japan’s first World Championship trophy in the sport.
INDIANAPOLIS (USA) – Sato’s arrival at the century-old speedway to watch this weekend’s action also marked a return to the site of his historic win back in May, when he became the first Japanese driver to clinch one of the world’s most prestigious auto races. Sato, who also earned a Formula One podium at Indianapolis in 2004, was impressed when he walked into Muroya’s hangar and got up close to the raceplane.
“I’m very excited – it’s the first time I’ve ever been to the Red Bull Air Race, and I’ve also come to see Yoshi,” said Sato as Muroya helped him into the cockpit of his Edge 540. “The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a very special place for me, as it is for a lot of people, but I’m here to cheer him on.”
Being the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500 puts Sato’s name firmly in the history books in Indianapolis, and the driver is hoping that his compatriot – who is locked in a four-way battle for the title – can follow in his footsteps on Sunday.
“It will be absolutely thrilling if Yoshi wins here tomorrow. He has a really big chance to win the race. Whatever the result, I will cheer for him as much as I can, but I would like him to win and then kiss the bricks,” said Sato, referring to a tradition at the speedway.
Being a professional driver, Sato looked instantly comfortable when he slid into the cockpit of Muroya’s race-winning plane.
“There are quite a few similarities between the race car and raceplane,” Sato noticed. “It’s a single-seat cockpit, we call it a cockpit, too. Obviously, there is a difference in the way you’re driving or flying, but you’re still fighting with the G-force, and the seating position is very similar. It’s fascinating to be in Yoshi’s cockpit, it’s very narrow like a racecar and it’s a low seating position as well.”
He added with a smile, “I would love to go for a flight with Yoshi, especially around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it’s not possible with his single-seat raceplane.”
Takuma Sato and Yoshihide Muroya are superstars in their native Japan, and both know what it will mean if Muroya claims the first country’s World Championship in the sport.
When asked if the pressure helps or hinders a competitor in such a situation, Sato commented: “It’s a bit of both. The pressure is always on, whether you’re here or in Japan. For him, he will be building his concentration and determination, and that has nothing to do with the pressure – in fact I think when many people are cheering and following you, it keeps your concentration up and motivates you even more.”
See Japan’s Yoshihide Muroya go for the World Championship: Tickets for the Red Bull Air Race season finale at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 14-15 October are on sale now. For all the latest news and information, including tickets, visit www.redbullairrace.com.
About Red Bull Air Race
Created in 2003, the Red Bull Air Race World Championship celebrated its landmark 75th race at the 2017 season opener in Abu Dhabi. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile, lightweight racing planes, pilots hit speeds of 370kmh while enduring forces of up to 10G as they navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 25-meter-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was conceived to help the next generation of pilots develop the skills needed for potential advancement to the Master Class that vies for the World Championship.