Takuma Sato appears set to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2018. The reigning Indianapolis 500 champ has close ties to Honda, joining RLL in a second car will keep him at the wheel of a Honda powered car. Sato previously raced for RLL in 2012 nearly winning the Indy 500 before crashing out going into Turn 1 on the last lap. A return to the team should reap results as the Japanese driver appears to have matured like a fine wine with age.
Sato’s current team Andretti Autosport is currently engulfed in an ongoing struggle over whether they want to join Chevrolet or stay with Honda. Currently, Andretti serves as the flagship team with Ganassi, leaving Honda would be leaving the manufacturer that helped the team record three Indy 500 wins in the last four years. Sato’s move to RLL all but drives home the fact that Andretti will be a Chevy team next season.
Michael Andretti owes it to his team and sponsors to go with the manufacturer offering the most money. It sounds like Chevy wants Andretti and the team would be dumb at this point to not make the switch. You’ll always play second fiddle to the evil empire and lord Penske but you’ll also be given really good equipment. Honda meanwhile always seems to be playing catch up to Chevy except at the speedway. While it’s not always their fault, Chevy generally has the competitive advantage/rules formed in their favor.
In 2018 selecting the right engine partner is key. IndyCar will move to a universal body kit meaning both Honda and Chevy cars will be running identical bodywork. Chevy’s high downforce advantage goes to the way side and same for Honda’s advantage at the speedway. When it comes down to it, it will all be about horsepower and set up in 2018. Chevy will come out of the gate with the horsepower advantage more than likely. Andretti aligning themselves with the bowtie brigade is a smart business move for the time being.
When the Andretti deal is announced the IndyCar silly season will commence. People will be changing seats more than a second-grade musical chairs party. People will be moving all over the place trying to align with a team that has an engine deal with the manufacturer that supports them the most. Rossi is gone, Hinch will be sought after, Kanaan is unkillable, Munoz might get a shot and a new team might join the grid. All of this thanks to Andretti wanting to wear some bowties.
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