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Top-ten delight for Sato and Super Aguri 17 Mar 2007

(L to R): tenth placed Takuma Sato (JPN) Super Aguri F1 Team celebrates with Aguri Suzuki (JPN) Team Principal Super Aguri F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, 17 March 2007

When both Super Aguri’s made it through to the second phase of qualifying there were a few raised eyebrows in the Albert Park paddock. When one of them then progressed to the final shootout, surprise turned to amazement as Takuma Sato clinched tenth on the grid for the Japanese team.

And Sato’s pace in the new SA07 - launched just last Wednesday - was no fluke. Team mate Anthony Davidson narrowly missed out on a place in Q3 and will start Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix from 11th. Had Davidson repeated his impressive final practice pace, he too would have made the top ten.

“What can I say, it was an absolutely fantastic team effort,” said an overjoyed Sato. “During the whole of qualifying the team worked well together, building up the car, step-by-step and things just went the right way. I was always going to be very happy if we made it into Q2, but I never imagined that we would reach Q3 - but we did, and it is a great feeling.”

“Fantastic news for the team,” added sporting director Graham Taylor. “To get Taku through to Q3 and to finish in the top 10 at the first race of our second season in the world championship is just astounding. Everyone in the team, and back home at the factory in Leafield, did a fantastic job; the drivers drove very well and the engineers got the cars balanced well.”

Super Aguri’s impressive performance came in stark contrast to that of engine partner Honda’s own works team. Rubens Barrichello failed to make it past the first phase of qualifying, while Jenson Button could manage no higher than 14th.