This past weekend, the iRacing Road Pro Series made it’s way to the ultra fast Suzuka International Circuit for the fourth race of the 9 week season. With 3 different race winners crowned so far, would there be another person to be crowned a victor? After Apex Academy driver Stephen Michaels took his first win at Silverstone last week, who would take the next? The race was sure to be an action packed one, with this circuit being known for trains forming, and the challenge of turbulent air, who would overcome the other to take the chequered flag in first? Hear from our 4 drivers on their thoughts on the race and how they look onwards to the next race.
Qualifying: I put in two decent laps, a solid banker to begin with but a few little mistakes and the second lap with a hint more aggression but still a very poor run through Dunlop and tentative through Spoon left me in P5 again.
Race: Made a horrific mess of the start, a couple of nerves as soon as the car got going and I jabbed the throttle a hint too much. I lost out to Huis and had to tuck into 6th. The car felt ok in the first stint, not particularly quick but it wasn’t bad considering I was in dirty air most of the stint. I moved into 5th after Bono’s incident with Sebastian and then into 4th when Cem’s tyres seemed to fade early in the stint. As the stint progressed the “Apex Armada” began to charge again towards the front as Freek and Daniel’s tyres began to wear.
I was given great information on the potential gap to slide into for the pitstop phase and it would be a big undercut. I had confidence that the car would hang on for 30 laps or so, so at the end of lap 22 I decided to pit. Unfortunately I ran wide at Spoon on my inlap and that proved very costly as I came out a car length or two behind Guerrero. Getting by him cost me a full second from my previous first 3 sectors so if I had a clear path and fresh tyres I could have reasonably gained another second and a half. Unfortunately this meant that Marcus overcut me and I lost out in the cycle.
From there, with slightly older tyres and balance tweak in the pits and with dirty air, I struggled big time in the second stint. The car was stable for 31 laps but just had no real bite from the car and struggled with Freek and then Stephen behind me. I decided to play the long game and let them go when they had a big run rather than hurt the car in the long run. Marcus was tucked up behind Daniel all of the final part of the race and we could only sit back and watch from there. Freek made a mistake and ran wide at Degner 2 to let Steve and I back through then near the end he dropped it completely there. I had to hold Bono off right at the end in his late charge but I couldn’t go any quicker in dirty air.
Massive thanks to the team again this week, really strong meeting and we can move on to COTA with some confidence despite it being a very tricky track.
Qualifying: I got a decent first lap in, but I knew there was 2 tenths in it. Then on my second lap I hit the bump at t1 which ruined my lap. A disappointing qualifying starting from p9.
Race: I got a great start and jumped both Stephen and Massimilliano off the line, which put me p7 after the first lap. Then a bit later Bono had some problems and I moved up into p6. Then for the rest of the first stint men and Jamie were catching the leaders. Right before the pitstop we had caught up to Daniel and Seb in front. Jamie decided to try the undercut, while I stayed out. On that lap I had a tiny bit of clear air, and I pushed a lot. Then I came into the pits with both Daniel and Seb, I jumped Seb as he unfortunately got a speeding penalty. Coming out of the pits I just about managed to stay ahead of Jamie, as his undercut didn’t work.
Freek pitted a lap later from the lead, and surprisingly I had jumped him. Which put me in p2, right behind Daniel. For the last 30 laps I was trying to get past him, but without success. I had one good opportunity around the outside of t1, but I just couldn’t make it stick. A bit of a shame that I couldn’t get the win, as my pace certainly was good enough for it. But really happy to finish p2, after moving up 7 spots during the race.
Qualifying: Not a good one. My first lap wasn’t counted so the pressure to get a lap at all was huge, only managed P18. All I can do is look at what’s going wrong for me in Q so far this season and change it for COTA.
Race: My launch okay, but I played it very cautiously for the first few corners so I didn’t make any places. A train was starting to form so I had to either start making passes if I wanted any chance of a good finish. I got Jonjic quite early, then I was stuck behind Cattell for a while, but still managed to get him into Turn 1 after saving up for a pass. Ragusa was leading a train again with Dunkel right behind him, and Vaz was quite close to us, but I couldn’t get a run. On lap 22 or 23, Dunkel pitted while he was ahead, and I knew responding immediately meant I wouldn’t get by him, so I decided to hold out and use the fresher tyres at the end to get by later on.
Pit stop was good, I was quite close considering how much later I’d stayed out. From there I put pressure on him and he started making small mistakes every now and again. He got a little sideways out of Spoon so I took advantage and got him on the inside to 130R which was a lot of fun. Gergis and Ficarra were in range too, so I started putting in the times and started catching them quite quickly. Once I caught them, it was troublesome since Ficarra wasn’t able to get by, and I couldn’t get him either since he had the draft from Gergis down the two straights. So in the end, P14. Not enough if I’m to get that WCS license. Big thanks to Jamie for the help again this week and to Michael for info during the race.
For qualifying my first lap felt very good. It was a solid banker as it had no mistakes, but I knew there was time available in some corners. Going into T1 on my second lap the back end stepped out a bit and that meant I was already a tenth down by the exit of T2. I had to push hard to gain the time back and this caused more mistakes, so I had to settle with the lap I had, which was enough for 2nd.
My start was pretty poor but luckily only Daniel got past by T1. After a few laps in 3rd I made a mistake out of the final corner and that gave Bono a run on me. I tried to do the cutback into T2 but misjudged it very slightly and unfortunately tapped Bono (sorry again). Karma came back to me as I got a speeding penalty in the pits and lost 15 seconds as a result. I also kept getting off tracks this race and had a few half spins and a full 360 at 130R, so for the entire 10 last laps I was on 14/15 incidents, which meant I couldn’t be too risky with passing.
Very disappointed overall as I had good enough pace to challenge for the win, but I only have myself to blame. Congrats to the top 3, thanks to James for spotting, and thanks to Jamie for the setup work
The Pro Series will travel next to Austin, Texas to the famous Circuit of the Americas for Round 5 on December 3rd, 13:30GMT. You can also view the championship standings and results here. Until then, catch the race on iRacing Live / Apex Racing TV with commentary from Andrew Woodhouse, Adam Bath and Alex Simpson. Catch the BSR Pro Series live on ApexRacingTV this Thursday at 8pm GMT too and more! See you then!
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