No Attack, No Dreams Accomplished

Former Formula 1 drivers are nothing new to the world. Many have not made it beyond being a journeyman driver with no sponsorship, no drive and no chance nor any hope. A few lucky ones have managed to reinvent themselves and revive their career with a different category, but not many of those have become history makers whilst reinventing themselves. The 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2017 gained significant international interest as the intense focus of media and fans is on Fernando Alonso and his McLaren Honda team with Andretti Autosport, his team mate (newly hired by Andretti in 2017) Takuma Sato quietly chips away at his consistent pace throughout each stage of practice and qualifying for the Indy 500. For Taku, there is unfinished business from 2012 almost winning Indy 500 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan feeding his motivation and desire to succeed at the brickyard.
 Taku has been on the pace throughout the event. Placing 2nd into the Fast 9 and officially qualifying 4th as well as being 2nd fastest on Carb day bodes well for his chances at the main event. A botched pit stop almost put paid to his chances, however Taku tackles it the only way he knows: “No attack, no chance”. Pass after pass, he fights he way past Ed Jones and Helio Castroneves to the lead. For every Takuma fan, the last 5 laps were unbearable to watch with any breathing involved. For the Japanese TV commentators, the commentary became higher and higher pitched with no translation required for their comments as the white flag was shown and Taku rounds the last corner with Castroneves with the commentators shouting:
“Takuma Sato, The first ever Japanese Indy 500 winner!
There may only be a few people who can understand the magnitude and significance however it is incredibly, truly amazing. Congratulations. You’re the best! “
The first Japanese Indycar race winner at Long Beach 2013, the newly crowned Indy 500 Champion and the first Japanese winner of the Indy 500. Such history making accolades were unimaginable during the bleak years of 2008-2009 when a group of dedicated Takuma fans met with his then commercial manager Matthew Winter in London for pizza, looking for opinions, feedbacks and ways to revive Taku’s career after the forced ending of Super Aguri, leaving Taku with no ride and racing career on the balance. That meeting was the birth of the decision to try for Indycar. 
It is well known that Taku has the most loyal and dedicated fanbase not only in his native Japan, increasingly in America but also many parts of the world broadcasting his progress at Indy in many languages other than Japanese and English. Many dedicated long term fans have once in a lifetime stories to tell about meeting Taku and sharing some unforgettable experiences with a genuinely great personality that is very approachable and loved by everyone that comes across him. I have personally experienced many such experiences since I started following his progress in British F3 in 2000 and meeting him for the first time in 2002 on his Jordan F1 debut. His “no attack, no chance” style of racing and his samurai like approach (like his hero Ayrton Senna) was what drawn me. His virtuoso performances at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka in 2002 and 2003 reinforced my belief of not underestimating what Taku is capable of given competitive machinery and never losing faith.
Among many once in a lifetime experiences I have experienced with Taku was being invited into the Super Aguri pits on a number of occasions and being part of the inner sanctum spending time with him. I will never forget that giant killing performance in the underfunded Super Aguri during and post qualifying at the Australian GP in Melbourne 2007. After being lifted aloft by his mechanics in front of the Aguri pits, he saw us and our Sato banners and proceeded to come up to the pit wall to salute us, notwithstanding the next support race grid is already forming.
The screaming over the radio once he passed the finish line was reminiscent of his hero Ayrton Senna’s high pitched screams in 1991 after winning his career zenith at his home Grand Prix in Interlagos Brazil. The milk at Indy certainly tasting better than champagne and kissing the yard of bricks has brought the fact home that Takuma Sato is the 101st Indy 500 Champion. Perhaps Taku should be bestowed the People’s Honour Award by the Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe for his achievements?