TORONTO – Team co-owner Jimmy Vasser could not believe his eyes when he looked in the pit lane and saw Takuma Sato charging his driver, Sébastien Bourdais. The alternation came at the end of Saturday morning's practice session for Sunday's Honda Indy Toronto.
Sato was upset by Bourdais's passing in a final lap, but with Spencer Pigot immediately behind Bourdais, he was trying to dig a gap to get a quick lap.
Furious, Sato accused the quadruple Indy auto champion while he was coming out of his SealMaster Honda # 18 for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan.
Sato grabbed Bourdais by the collar of his firefighter's suit. Bourdais pushed him away and things got even more complicated.
Several of the swings were connected, but both drivers were still wearing their helmets. The fight was broken by Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan Public Relations Manager Kevin Diamond, a veteran who handles public relations for Bourdais.
Diamond succeeds in repelling Sato.
Ironically, Diamond was once Sato's public relations representative when the Tokyo pilot drove for KV Racing.
"As long as Sebastien is around, he gets along with Paul Tracy, with Mikhail Aleshin, he's not afraid of bigger or smaller men," Vasser told NTT INDYCAR Mobile. "Sebastien is quite fiery.
"I was surprised that Sato came so fast in our box. He passed unnoticed by the stopwatch. But Seb (Bourdais) is not one to back down. "
Both are worth watching in the Honda Indy Toronto, which starts at 3 pm AND on NBCSN. Sato will line up a position behind Bourdais when the green flag falls around 3:45 pm AND.
What led to the incident was a chance to make one last lap in Saturday's practice session. He was stopped for a red flag after Graham Rahal overturned his Honda in the tire barrier in Turn 1. While the squad was about to complete a final "flyer", Bourdais overtook Sato, as his 39, he intended to improve his position.
According to Diamond, it was a matter of digging a gap with Pigot who was closing quickly behind him to gauge his speed for qualifying.
Sato, however, took this as a sign of disrespect because it was the last round of testing. After all cars descended into the pit lane, Sato came out of his Honda, ran into the pit lane and confronted Bourdais as he was coming out of his Honda.
"I doubled it on the lap, and it pissed him off," Bourdais told NBC Sports. "I'm not sure it deserved that kind of reaction, but it does not matter. If there was something, it's me who should be pretty pissed off. He almost ruined our race in Texas three laps and blocked the last three relays.
"I never asked him anything. We know he's running hard but with this little incident, I'm not sure what should happen to him. "
Sato gave his version of the story and said, "I'm cool."
The 101st The winner of the Indianapolis 500 went on to say, "He was excited. It was not me, "referring to Bourdais. "Passing me was absolutely useless. It was just a ride. He exploded next to me and then became Josef Newgarden.
"What was the goal?"
During his driving career, Vasser was never involved in a physical altercation with another driver.
"I just chewed a bit and moved on," said Vasser. "Sometimes, when your adrenaline is at its peak, you can not turn it off.
"It's probably safe to be able to control your emotions. In this case, Sato was face to face in his box just after getting out of his car.
"You arrive in someone's box or in his trailer, you should not expect a welcome party."