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Japan's Takuma Sato wins Indianapolis 500

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Indianapolis (AFP)

Takuma Sato won the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, becoming the first Japanese driver to triumph in America's iconic race.

Sato passed three-time winner Helio Castroneves in the waning laps and held on to triumph, laying the ghost of a heartbreaking defeat in 2012.

"Unbelievable feeling!" a beaming Sato declared as he accepted a bear-hug of congratulations from Andretti Autosport team boss Michael Andretti.

"He drove unbelieveable," Andretti said of Sato's performance in an eventful race that saw pole-sitter Scott Dixon of New Zealand escape serious injury in a spectacular crash and Formula One star Fernando Alonso's race ended by engine failure.

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