Lotus signs Sato for Indy 500 comeback

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On the weekend that the Lotus name returned to F1, Group Lotus confirmed it would also be heading back to the Indianapolis 500 – as predicted by Motor Sport (March).

The traditional green and yellow colours will be carried on Takuma Sato’s Dallara-Honda in this year’s IRL series, thanks to a commercial deal with KV Racing Technologies, run by Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.

The deal has been put together by Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar – formerly with Red Bull and Ferrari – rather than an outside entrepreneur, as with the F1 project. The idea is to push the brand in the USA and Japan, two key markets for Lotus.

Announcing the deal, Bahar said: “Racing has always defined Lotus and on many occasions in motor sport history Lotus’ numerous innovations have redefined racing. It’s only fitting that, as the Lotus Racing name re-enters F1, we will also race and innovate again in Indycar.”

The deal was originally announced as also involving support from Cosworth, which is involved in Lotus road car projects. Not surprisingly that caused some confusion not only in relation to Honda’s position as exclusive IRL engine supplier, but also because of its long-time support of Sato. Thus the Cosworth connection has been quietly dropped.

Sato made his IRL debut in the São Paulo street race in March, where he qualified a promising 10th only to get involved in a first-corner skirmish. The definitive Lotus colours were due to be revealed only at the second race at St Petersburg. It has been 42 years since Colin Chapman’s works team last competed at the Brickyard.

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