News & Multimedia

Sato Inspires Muroya, Shares in Japanese Joy of Red Bull Air Race World Title

An emotionally overwhelmed Yoshihide Muroya wiped away tears of joy as the reality started to sink in.

A jubilant Takuma Sato raised his arms as if vicariously reliving his own euphoric, career-defining moment.

Nobody enjoyed the Red Bull Air Race on Sunday more than two new fast friends from Japan as Muroya, inspired in part by Sato, flew home with a record run in the final heat to win the event and claim his first Master Class World Championship.

What made the experience even more memorable was that it came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Sato triumphed in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28.

Whereas Sato ended that glorious day at dusk by kissing the famed “Yard of Bricks,” Muroya was doing the same smooching in the early-evening shadows with his airplane wheeled next to the start/finish line.

“I can’t believe it,” Sato said. “Two of us in the same place in the same year.”

The first Asian pilot to secure a series title admitted it meant a lot for his cheering section to include the first Asian driver to win the Indy 500.

“He has a lot of energy inside,” Muroya said of Sato. “I met him (Saturday), and I feel a really powerful emotion from him. That means a lot to motivate.”

The excited Sato repeatedly uttered the word “incredible” to describe the day.

“All the emotions come out,” Sato said. “It was so incredible to see him and his family here for such an incredible moment. What an incredible moment.”

The dramatic conclusion on a cloudy, overcast day was in stark contrast to how the afternoon began, when Muroya feared he had lost his shot at the title after incurring a two-second penalty in a first-round showdown with points leader Martin Sonka of the Czech Republic.

“Living on the edge," Sato said.

Muroya edged Sonka, who incurred a three-second penalty but was fastest loser in the opening round and still advanced. Both reached the Final 4 showdown. Muroya, who had entered the day four points behind the leader, needed to win and Sonka had to finish third or worse for the Japanese pilot to prevail.

Despite windy conditions which saw many pilots clip Air Gate pylons with their wings, Muroya was at his best when it counted the most with a record run of 1 minute, 3.026 seconds. When Sonka struggled and finished fourth at 1:07.280, it was time for so many Japanese visitors – including many ecstatic fans and media – to celebrate once again.

As Muroya shed those tears in his hangar and accepted congratulations from team members, he was grabbed and hoisted high by defending series champion and inaugural Red Bull Air Race winner Matthais Dolderer of Germany. Dolderer finished a season-best second Sunday.

Sato, so honored by how his win inspired Japan, put into perspective his friend’s victory. He acknowledged how Muroya, 44, is from Fukushima, which is still recovering from a 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the latter causing a catastrophic meltdown in the Daiichi nuclear power plant.

“He came from the devastated area, so this really means a lot to them, it means a lot to him, it means a lot to us, too,” Sato said.

Sato was so moved by Muroya’s win, he joined the media in asking a question of his new friend about how this accomplishment will resonate in Japan. Tokyo native Sato referred to Muroya as “the man for helping people and supporting them.”

Muroya expressed gratitude to people back home for helping him.

“The people in Fukushima are really strong,” he said. “We were down at first, but we’ve recovered in five years. The life is back to kind of normal. For now, going to the next stage with a more bright future that we’re aiming for, I’m kind of an ambassador. Maybe I’m not helping, but I’m helped by the Fukushima people.

“Lots of people support me as a very good home base for training. That’s why I can be a World Champion. What I can do is promote and open the media to the reality for now.”

Muroya eventually admitted that, after Sato’s Indy 500 win, his World Championship could be “a huge, huge news event, I think.”

In such an unforgettable day, perhaps the most meaningful moment came when Japan’s national anthem was played on the public address system. The respectful Muroya took off his hat with his left hand and clutched a Japanese flag with his right hand.

“I just feel so proud of that,” Sato said. “We did both the road and the air.”

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Yoshihide Muroya and Takuma Sato
Sato Inspires Muroya, Shares in Japanese Joy of Red Bull Air Race World Title
An emotionally overwhelmed Yoshihide Muroya wiped away tears of joy as the reality started to sink in. A jubilant Takuma Sato raised his arms as if vicariously reliving his own euphoric, career-defining moment.
Read More
Related Media
AMR Named Official Ambulance Provider of IMS, INDYCAR
The INDYCAR Safety Team, an industry leader in motorsports, now has title sponsorship from a national leader in emergency medical transport. American Medical Response (AMR) was named today to a multiyear partnership with INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. AMR will brand the INDYCAR Safety Team and provide emergency and non-emergency ground medical transportation services at IMS.
Read More
Red Bull Air Race
Confidence, Speed, Lighter Plane Help American Goulian Soar to Red Bull Air Race Win
Michael Goulian was the first pilot on course in the Final 4 of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season opener Feb. 4 at Abu Dhabi, with three fellow elite aerobatic pilots waiting in the wings to challenge him.
Read More
Red Bull Air Race
Red Bull Air Race Lands in Abu Dhabi for 2018 Season Opener
The rivalries of a fiercely contested 2017 World Championship will reignite on 2-3 February, as the Red Bull Air Race kicks off for the record 11th consecutive year in sizzling Abu Dhabi. New pilots, raceplane innovations and updated rules will only add fuel to the fire.
Read More
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Mark Your Calendars Now for Diverse Lineup of 2018 Events at IMS
Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans should place the dates for all 2018 events at the Racing Capital of the World into their calendars, as you won’t want to miss any of the excitement of a schedule that features something for everyone.
Read More
Security Robot
Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV Named Official Security Robot of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
“Start your engines” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) now extends to its automated, driverless security robot, the Sharp INTELLOS Automated Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV). Named the Official Security Robot of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Sharp INTELLOS A-UGV provides an added layer of safety and security protection for what is known as the highest capacity sports venue in the world.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 250
Latest Tweets
It's Pole day on @CrownRoyal Armed Forces Weekend & we can't wait to see you! Check out details on the day:
May 21
We've created a new webpage that will help even an #Indy500 first-timer enjoy Race Day like a pro! Check it out:…
May 21