Takuma Sato sounds off on Sebasiten Bourdais following their incident Saturday in practice on the streets of Toronto.
Jim Ayello, email@example.com
TORONTO — Takuma Sato fumed. He expected an apology. Or at least an explanation. Sebastien Bourdais had no intention of giving him that satisfaction of either, not with the Japanese star screaming in his face.
Sato grabbed Bourdais by the collar of his firesuit, then his helmet. Bourdais then shoved Sato, and the screaming match evolved into a pit-lane brawl the likes of which IndyCar hasn’t seen for some time.
After Bourdais passed Sato during the final lap of Saturday morning’s practice session on the streets of Toronto — a final timed lap awarded to each car/driver after Graham Rahal’s crash caused a red flag — Sato was furious.
For the life of him, Sato said, he could not understand the rationale of Bourdais’ actions. With one guaranteed lap for everyone, why bother passing? Why take risk?
“It was a ridiculous moment,” Sato said later in the afternoon. “I saw Josef (Newgarden) was sort of warming up his tires on the back straight so I had to back off. There’s not point to overtake him, because what do you gain?
“But then Bourdais comes screaming out, squeezing me into the wall, I mean, what’s the point? Then he kept going and nearly hit Newgarden on the exit of Turn 5. How ridiculous is that? What are you trying to achieve? I have no idea.”
Irate, Sato marched down to Bourdais’ pit box, got in the Frenchman’s face and demanded answers, shouting:
“What were you thinking about?! And what are you trying to achieve?!
“And (Bourdais) just went crazy.”
Standing up in his seat, Bourdais shoved Sato and two started exchanging blows. Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team spokesman Kevin Diamond stepped between the IndyCar veterans before any damage was done, and eventually, the pair were separated.
The incident was captured by NBC cameras and eventually posted on social media for the world to see.
Upon watching the replay, Bourdais said Sato completely overreacted to a minor incident.
“Obviously, I passed him out the outlap; I guess that pissed him off, but I’m not quite sure it deserved that kind of reaction.”
Bourdais explained that Spencer Pigot was riding his bumper, so in hopes of creating more separation for the final lap, he maneuvered around Sato. Frankly, Bourdais said, nothing that happened on that lap should have mattered much to anyone, since no one was realistically going to be able to get up to speed.
“I really didn’t have any expectations that lap was going to be any good because it’s really hard to clean up the tires and get going anyways, so really did it make any difference? No, because everyone was two seconds off the pace. That’s why it’s even more stupid to come out of the car fuming like that and making a scene. It just makes no sense.”
Sebastien Bourdais explains why he should be the one who’s upset, not Takuma Sato
Jim Ayello, firstname.lastname@example.org
Following qualifying, Bourdais was adamant that he has no intention of apologizing to Sato, saying that if anything, Sato owes him an apology. Not only for their skirmish on Saturday but for a number of other recent incidents that have ruined his races.
“If anything, I should be the one who was pissed,” Bourdais insisted. “He’s pretty much ruined our race in Texas and blocked us for the better part of three stints. At Road America, he gave the first punch, and roughed us up in the race. I never even went to him; I never asked for anything. We knew he races hard, and that’s the way it is. … But it’s becoming a bit of a habit, and I’m just a bit tired of it.
“I wish he’d come and apologize. That’s the least he should be doing. But I don’t get the feeling he’ll be doing that. I probably shouldn’t go to him, because I’m probably not going to be very pleasant.”
Of course, Sato has no intention of apologizing to Bourdais. Though the two will be starting near each other Sunday — Bourdais on the outside of Row 4 and Sato just behind him on the outside of Row 5 — Sato said if the air between them is to be cleared, Bourdais will have to be the one to initiate.
And he doesn’t expect that to happen.
“I’m always open to talk to him, but is he willing to? Seems like he (just wants) to be impulsive and has no idea,” Sato said. “I think he’ll be professional enough to race hard but fair (on Sunday). If not, I’ll be very disappointed.”
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