IndyCar Barber: Takuma Sato says blocking penalty was 'unlucky'

Takuma Sato thinks he was unlucky to be dealt the qualifying penalty that has relegated him to 12th on the grid for Sunday's IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park

IndyCar Barber: Takuma Sato says blocking penalty was 'unlucky'

Sato had been among the drivers set to advance to the 'Fast Six' final segment of qualifying at the Alabama circuit.

But he then had his two best times deleted for breaching a newly-introduced rule designed to encourage fair play during qualifying.

Rule 8.3.6.1 states that: "To further emphasise on-track sportsmanship, if a car is deemed by the race director to have interfered with qualifications during segment one or two of road/street course qualifying, the car will not be allowed to advance to the next segment in addition to having its two fastest laps disallowed. If the offence occurs during Segment three, the 'Fast Six', the car shall not be permitted to participate in the remainder of qualifying."

Sato was deemed to have fallen foul of the rule by blocking Justin Wilson during the second qualifying phase, although the Japanese driver said that the Briton had been unsighted due to undulations in the track.

"I had to back off because there was a slower car in front of me at the exit of Turn 5," he said.

"So I abandoned my qualifying lap and I tried to stretch the space.

"I checked my mirror on the back straight and there was nobody there, and then going through Turns 7 and 8, which is where the elevation changes, was probably the worst place for Wilson to catch me because I couldn't see anything behind me.

"When I was able to see that he was coming I tried to keep my line tight and let him have the racing line. Obviously it was close, but I was disappointed to be penalised."

Wilson will start four places ahead of Sato in eighth.

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