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Motor racing: Sato takes Portland GP in 1st win of IndyCar season

Takuma Sato (Mainichi)

NEW YORK (Kyodo) -- Japan's Takuma Sato took the checkered flag Sunday at the IndyCar Grand Prix of Portland for his first victory of the season.

    The win in the penultimate round of the North America-based IndyCar Series was Sato's third since making the jump from Formula One in 2010 and first since his historic victory at the 101st Indianapolis 500 in 2017.

    The 41-year-old Sato started from 20th at Portland International Raceway but was able to capitalize on a series of mishaps, including a spectacular first-lap pileup, to work his way to the front over the course of the 105-lap race. American Ryan Hunter-Reay and Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the podium.

    Sato said he was impressed by the response from fans in the Pacific Northwestern city of Portland, which was hosting its first IndyCar Series race since 2007.

    "Look at the fans here in Portland, so enthusiastic," the Honda driver told IndyCar.com. "I think this is one of the most beautiful days in my life again."

    In his eighth Indy 500 appearance in 2017, Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the marquee race of the IndyCar Series.

    The victory erased unhappy memories of the 2012 race, when he spun and crashed trying to pass eventual winner Dario Franchitti on the final lap at the famous "Brickyard" in Indianapolis.

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