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Sato proud of Super Aguri efforts 24 Feb 2006

Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1. Formula 1 Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 21-24 February 2006. World © Sutton

Super Aguri lead driver Takuma Sato described the new team’s progress as ‘encouraging’ after they completed their first three-day test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya this week.

Despite a difficult start - Sato managed just 10 laps on the opening day - and finishing well off the pace of their nearest rivals, both Sato and rookie team mate Yuji Ide insisted the team are on target for a successful debut at next month’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

“I am very proud of everybody in the team who has made this test happen with such a tough schedule,” said Sato. “Obviously this test has been an important opportunity for us to run our systems programme before we go to Bahrain. I am very pleased that we have successfully completed the three-day test and that we were able to evaluate the small amount of data that we have. In terms of performance we need to work hard, but at least this has been an encouraging start.”

While Sato, dropped by BAR at the end of last season, has plenty of Grand Prix experience, fellow Japanese Ide is a Formula One newcomer. The Formula Nippon graduate completed 44 laps in his debut session and came away confident he can improve further before the start of the season.

“I wish I could have driven more, but there were some problems that cut my day short,” he said. “However, I am satisfied about what I was able to learn. For the first time I felt the actual F1 G-force and downforce. Although I did not drive much I was able to feel confident in the car and hopefully I can do a better lap time at the actual races. I had a great learning curve and I enjoyed it very much. I am looking forward to the next test and also to the opening race in Bahrain.”

After their late entry to the 2006 championship was accepted by the FIA at the end of January, Super Aguri now look to have won their race against time to be ready for the start of the season with an interim car based on the 2002 Arrows A23 chassis and using V8 Honda power.

“The team has delivered more than anyone imagined possible before we came to Barcelona and this makes us confident that our performance in Bahrain will be acceptable,” said chief technical officer, Mark Preston. “These three days have helped to gel the team together, and that includes both the Super aguri Formula 1 and Honda personnel, who have been central in our getting to this test.

“The engine performed faultlessly, which is a good indicator of our reliability for the first race. The test fulfilled our requirements and we were able to solve a number of systems-related issues. By the third day the car ran reliably all morning, allowing us to begin a programme of performance evaluations. Part of these evaluations allowed us to run our Bridgestone tyres for Bahrain and we are happy with the choice that we have made.”

Super Aguri’s next test will take place at Silverstone in the UK next week.