It has been an amazing visit to the Suzuka International Circuit for our second race weekend of the season in the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia!
What can I say. I have always dreamt of driving here since I was a young child and during the race weekend for rounds 2 & 3 of Asias Premier Motorsport series, Porsche Motorsport brought us here for the opportunity to drive one if the most challenge tracks in the world!
Dubbed the Spa Francorchamps of Asia, the Suzuka International Circuit is located an hour and a half drive outside of Nagoya and boasts some of the hardest elevation of any circuit in Asia. It is an extremely fast flowing circuit that was so quick, it brought tyre temperatures to record numbers for any circuit ever in Asia. So from that, you know that the car is loaded up big time! The epic 130R at the end of the back straight was everything it was cracked up to be, alongside famous corners such as Blanchimont at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium.
Practice started off well as we got a good feel for the circuit that we had never been on. So getting setup as well as driving the car on the limit were two things that were challenging. It also works against us not to know the circuit to get the setup right as if I drive a bit off pace, the read on the car maybe wouldn’t be quite accurate enough!
There were many red flags during the practice sessions, a total of seven from memory! So it wasn’t easy for us to get a good rhythm but not putting a wheel wrong kept our consistency up!
Qualifying came quickly as there just wasn’t quite enough time to practice so on went the new rubber and up came the pressure! We were cautious but still pushed hard and managed p2 to start up alongside championship leader, Bao Jin Long. I was not fully satisfied as pole was the target, though p2 gave us a fighting chance of taking the win! So not all was lost.
Race 1 was a GO GO GO though from the first lap when we started, the car had no confidence in it and I had quickly realised that we didn’t quite start on the correct tyre pressures. For the first three laps, we were sitting ducks getting passed by two cars behind me and losing track position down to p4. Though on the 4th lap, the tyres started working and we started to catch the cars in front. Unfortunately due to the gap being so large already, it wasn’t easy to catch up and a safety car ended any chance of getting by the guys that passed me. P4. Not a good result and lost pace off the front of the championship.
Race 2 however went a lot better for us! Started p2, had a mega start and took the lead immediately into turn 1. After our result in race 1, I asked my race engineer Patrick to give me high pressures so the car was a lot better at the start than the end! And that’s what it was. My #5 Novu Racing Team car was a rocket ship and by the fourth lap, we had a 4.5 second gap to the 2nd place competitor. I was loving it!
Then on lap 6, a safety car was called out again and I thought to myself that we could get robbed of the victory. Though after a few laps under safety car, it was damage control till the chequered flag to keep everyone behind me as our tyres were well passed their best! Finally, the first win of the season!!!! And back in the championship hunt.
In 11 years I have won 1 championship title and have been runner up on 4 occasions! So the title is the only thing on my mind! Onwards to Fuji Speedway to hopefully take the championship lead! Let see what happens!!!!