TOKYO (TR) – It has been quite a month for professional racing car driver Takuma Sato. Last week, the winner of this year’s Indianapolis 500, greeted U.S. President Donald Trump at a state banquet at the Akasaka Palace hosted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
However, this week’s issue of Shukan Shincho leaves the 40-year-old driver appearing less than dignified, claiming he is engaged in an extra-marital affair with freelance announcer Satoko Naito.
According to the magazine, which hit newsstands on Thursday, Naito, 43, was seen exiting the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by Sato on November 4. After stopping at a supermarket, she entered an apartment. Sato followed her inside after he parked the vehicle.
When confronted by the magazine, Sato admitted to being in a romantic relationship with Naito, whom he first met at a race in the fall of 2010. “[The relationship] started several months later,” he said.
In 2005, Sato married a woman of the same age. The couple has two children. Until March of last year, Naito appeared as an assistant announcer on the Tokyo MM program “Goji ni Muchu!”
Sato told the magazine that his wife became aware of his relationship with Naito in the summer of 2012, a time when the couple discussed getting a divorce. “Honestly speaking, I am worried,” Sato said. “While Naito-san has certainly supported my racing, on the other hand, my feelings for my children are great.”
First Asian driver to win the Indianapolis 500
Between 2002 and 2008, Sato competed in Formula One with a number of teams. Since 2010, he has raced full-time in the IndyCar Series. He became the first Japanese driver to win an IndyCar race by claiming the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2013. His victory at this year’s Indianapolis 500 made him the first Asian driver to win that race.