Heading back once more, and for the final time to Japan, the fourteenth round of the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series returned to Suzuka International Course. With stunning speeds through the famous 130R corner, mixing with sweeping elevated “S” sections along with the figure-eight layout, the track has always been one for the drivers to look forward to. After the drama at Spa, Apex were looking forward to proving pace once again. Hear how our drivers thought the race meeting went.
Having done very little prep work here I did my first Q laps the morning of the race. The car felt good, planted and predictable, which I felt was the main thing here to set a good time, when the pressure was on. My lap had a couple of mistakes but was pretty clean. Lap 2 started off so well and I was up .2 with another .2 to find in the final corner. I had a real chance at a front row, so really attacked the final turn only to pick up a off track. P16 on a very close grid.
I had opt for a much more stable set that my team mates, while slow in the mid/high speed turns, it was planted in the slow areas. After a good start that moved me up to 13th, I dropped back a few seconds to the pack ahead. I was able to keep the guys behind no problem with the traction out of the slow speed corners and as the tyres started to go off on drivers ahead I pulled the pack back in. Tyres felt great so we tried to stay out a little longer and a snap at the top of Dunlop cost me big time. New front wing put me back even further back and from there it was all about salvaging a result. I picked up 6 spots to end with a disappointing P18
Not 100% sure I will make the final 2 rounds, we will see.”
“Q: During race preparation I could find a good compromise for my setups and build up confidence. I started my first flying lap pushing hard. Pace was good and I was about to take an easy top 10 on the grid when I got an offtrack. In my second flying lap I drove much too cautiously and ended in a measly 19th position.
R: Start was average but pace was very good and I could make some spots in the first lap when I was almost taken out by a slight touch on my right rear wheel in the last chicane. I came back on track in 23rd position: car was almost intact with only some loss in top speed. Pace was good as I quickly closed the gap to Paul but was stuck behind him in 21st position because of my lower top speed for many laps. I could finally overtake him on lap 15 and Diogo shortly after. I found myself in 15th position closing the gap to Robin just before my pitstop on lap 24.
Unfortunately I lost 4 more seconds in the pits to change my front wing and came out in 22nd position. After all pitstops were completed I was in 18th position closing the gap to Robin again. With a fresh car I could easily overtake Robin and Mogar (one of my best overtakes ever!). After Andre’s mistake in front of me I found myself in 14th position chasing Davy. I could close most of the gap when my tyres gave up. After some big slides I decided to bring it home in P14.
Grats to my team mates and to podium. Big thanks to all our partners and sponsors”
With my first lap being a decent banker, pole or the front 2 rows looked on the cards, but I bottled it mid lap getting an off track. P9 it was with a very close session.
Got Olli off the line up to P8, then joined the train with it being very hard to pass I ended up P5 just before the pit stop. But having a damaged nose cone I had to take a extra long pit stop costing me 6 seconds extra that dropped me back out of position. Fighting my way back to 5th then being passed on the last lap by Huttu, it was a better race than expected not really doing any race practice. We had decent half decent pace.”
“Q: My First Lap in Qualifying was very cautious like normal as I like to set a banker to make sure I have something to fall back on if my push lap fails.
Going onto my push lap I knew I had around .5 in the lap which would get me up the field towards the podium, I improved and moved up the standings just outside the top 5 but the competition was close and was pushed all the down to P14 with close margins between every car, which was a little surprising and disappointing.
R: Starting the Race from P14 I knew that a lot of cars ahead of me were slower than I was so I was expecting a lot of carnage and trains. Trains were the first thing to form all the way to the leaders and Carnage seemed to be with my car most of the race. Cars were constantly turning in on me the whole race like I was Invisible. First few laps Dinkel turned in on me in the last chicane almost ruining his own race but managed to keep it going.
The train was getting frustrating as it was very difficult to make a move so I made a decision to go for a massive undercut to have the best chance of good points in the Race.
The undercut took me from P11 to P4 but I had 35 laps to do in the last stint which was inevitably going to be a tough time for me at the end of the Race.
I was pushed off at Degner 1 by Holzmann who left me no choice otherwise he would have ended my race and championship hopes, but this had serious effects on my tires which had me struggling to fight guys back.
As the quicker cars came through I was on the inside for the second part of the Final chicane in the Final laps as Saito turned in on me ruining his Race and putting Happala on my tail for the Final lap. I managed to hold him off despite being hit in the rear for the entrance of spoon to finish a solid P7 with a very bold strategy.
P14 to P7 was a good result for this circuit but what could have been without the setbacks. Time to reset and try to finish the season strong and reach a Top 5 standings result which was my goal for my rookie season.”
The World Championship will be heading to the Nurburgring, to tackle the GP-Strecke course on September 24th, 14:00GMT. You can also view the championship standings and results here. Until then, catch the race on RaceSpot TV / iRacing Live, and keep up to date with our other drivers competing in other championships such as the BSRTC (live on ApexRacingTV every Thursday at 8pm British Time) and more! See you then!
Also a big thanks to our sponsors and partners!