Bayfords Tour of Japan – Round 4/5 Fuji

We only had 10 drivers for the penultimate round with regular front runners Loui and Ant not able to make it. This made it a straight fight between Jono and Graham. Graham took the pole but Jono took the win and the points. For me, it was a race to forget and a valuable lesson learned.

Prep

This is a quick section….. foolishly assuming I knew this track I spent all week preparing for a race on ACC around Barcelona. I didn’t know it half as well as I thought I did, paying a heavy price and qualifying 7th behind my championship rival Dan.

The Race

Things started badly when I lost 2 positions in the first two corners. I managed to claw one of those back and at the end of the lap was in 8th, drafting Dan down the long straight. Jason was long gone in front of us and it looked like Dan, Simmo, Chris and I would be fighting over 7th. At turn 1, Chris and I managed to pass Dan. He stayed close to me and was able to use the slip stream to pass me back at Turn 1. I wasn’t able to stay as close and after I took the ‘agricultural line’ through the Dunlop chicane the gap opened up to over 2s at the end of the lap.

Dan, Chris and I on the main straight on lap 2

Chris and Dan were fighting hard over 7th and, surprisingly, I soon caught them, passing Dan at Netz and beating Chris out of the final corner to lead as we finished the lap – the three of us covered by 0.4s. I kept hold of the place until Dan muscled his way past on the inside entering 100R and then I span, tagging Chris entering the Dunlop chicane. I took ages to get the car restarted and rejoined in last place, 11s behind Dan in 9th. With 21 minutes to go I had a lot of work to do. I decided to get my stop out of the way and make the best use of some clean track so I took on a set of soft tires to get me to the end of the race, now with 21s to 9th place.

Starting lap 8, the gap was 5s to Dan in 9th who must have had a problem and then 3s to Chris the following lap after he stopped. This was also my quickest lap so far (1:41.374) so the harder tires were working for me. I went quicker again on the following lap with a 1:40.631. On the following lap though I bungled Turn 1 in spectacular fashion and finished the lap 18s behind Chris.

From that point on I lost interest in the race really. I put the car in the pits for a few minutes while I sorted my head out and went out for the final lap eventually finishing in 10th and last place, miles behind Chris.

What was left of the poor Porsche at the end of the race

Lessons Learned

Simply put – I learned that I need to practice. There’s a world of difference between ACC and GTSport and I can’t just jump between the two and expect to be quick. With this poor result I’ve dropped to 8th place in the championship, 1pt behind Dan. I now need to beat him by at least 2 places at Suzuka to finish ahead of him. I’d better get the work done!