Monday saw the 5th and final round of our Tour of Japan and 11 drivers taking part in the 30 minute race at Suzuka.
Until the day of the race I’d not done any practice since I’d been concentrating on ACC. I put that aside and did some practice in a test lobby and after watching a few YouTube videos got my times down to 2:01 which I was fairly happy with. In the practice before qualifying I was quicker than Dan and only about 1.5s off the quickest drivers.
I started the race in P7 between Matt and Dan, making up position when Graham span at Turn 1. By the time we arrived at the hairpin, Jason had passed Dan and if things stayed that way I’d beat him at the end of the season. Crossing the line, I had a gap of 1.7s to Matt in front of me and 1.6s to Jason behind. While chatting on the headset I made an error at Turn 1 and lost control, dropping to P10 behind Simmo. I then had another off at the Esses but got past Simmo, with 9s to Dan in front I had a lot of work to do.
On lap 3 I span, oversteering out of the bend under the bridge and was passed by Simmo who I soon started to catch. I was quicker than him and started to get frustrated when I couldn’t pass him quickly. I eventually muscled my way past on lap 5 at the bus stop chicane only to spin under the bridge again and let him back through. With all the spins, my tires were shot so I pitted for a set of RSS tires and went back out. I didn’t take on any fuel as I thought I’d make it to the end without needing any.
On rejoining I set my best lap of the race – a 2:01.360 and drove well (for me) until lap 12 when I made a mistake at the hairpin allowing Simmo through and dropping me back to 10th where I eventually finished, 12s behind Simmo and a long way behind Dan. Definitely another race to forget. Overall I finished 6th in the championship, 4 pits behind Dan caused largely by bad results at Fuji and Suzuka.
The biggest things to take away from this race are the main areas I struggled with. I lost control many times in the race, qualifying and in practice under the bridge and with a race coming up at Suzuka on Assetto Corsa in a couple of weeks it’s somewhere I’ll need to focus effort on.
Comparing my times to the leaders, I was losing most of the time in sector 3 – the hairpin and through Spoon so that’s another thing to work on for next time.
I’d like to thank all the drivers for taking part, especially those who saw the season all the way to the end. It was fun racing with you all, especially the chat during the race which made up for not being able to go out.