Mixed success for the Radicals after a chaotic startAugust 22, 2016
Plenty of incidents during the WCS debut at the NürburgringOctober 5, 2016
Japan has been well represented in the 2016 iRacing WC Grand Prix Series’ roster with Suzuka being the third race in the land of the rising sun. Going into qualifying we seemed to have a good pace and especially our Japanese drivers Yuta and Kazuki were eager to do well in front of their home crowd.
Early on in the qualifying session top times were changing a lot and Mogar set a proper time on his first attempt occupying 2nd position at the time. With 5 minutes remaining in the session it was local hero Kazuki who did a blistering fast lap and took pole position for the moment.
A great accomplishment for Kazuki, but it was Mogar who lit up the timing sheets once again and actually managed to beat his teammate by 0.118 of a second to take the teams first pole position in the F1 World Championship series.
With the championship favourites not being able to live up to expectations it was actually a complete front row lockout for the team.
Yuta qualified in 11th, Jeremy returned while driving with his Oculus Rift and qualified in 22nd position while Paul wasn’t able to set a good lap either and would start from 27th on the grid.
The race start was relatively clean and both Mogar and Kazuki managed to keep their positions and lead the field for the first couple of laps.
Jeremy’s return didn’t last long as he was hit going into Degner 2.
Well, not much to say to what happened. The guy behind ran out of talent despite being experienced, hit me once and then kept going as if it wasn't enough to turn my car upside down. Saying that I'm upset is an understatement.
I was really looking forward to racing with the Oculus Rift for the first time but I guess it wasn't meant to be.
Thanks a lot to Radicals for working hard on the setup and really happy to see it payed out, hopefully Mogar and Kazuki can also make it work in the race!
As the race conditions were quite different from qualifying it seemed the setup didn’t seem to work all that well in the much colder conditions and and the two at front were put under pressure and slowly started losing some positions over the course of the first stint.
Yuta was able to deal with it better though and was actually the best positioned Radicals driver driving in 6th position before the pit cycle started.
Especially polesitter Mogar struggled a lot and wasn’t pleased with how the race turned out for him.
Q: Car was just great, confortable to drive and fast at the same time. It seemed tailor made for my driving and track conditions.
I did a first safe lap, which was already good, then did a 2nd lap pushing. Nailed all corners and got my first pole.
I was just feeling confident, feeling no pressure, everything went perfect.
R: Than my nightmare started.
Completely different weather from practice and qualify sessions. Car balance changed significantly, was wrong even on new tires, and got even worse as tires started to wear out. Car was snappy, difficult to drive, and as I started to be attacked, confidence went away, and finished p16.
But also got the impression that there is something I'm missing either on driving or setup on race conditions. Speed for a single lap is there.
I know that my pole was due to luck of finding the perfect conditions, and the lack of time for preparation would appear, but I'm disappointed to finish so badly after doing a pole position.
Thank my teammates for building the set for this round.
Kazuki struggled a lot as well towards the end of the stint and decided to pit early and came into the pits after 21 laps looking for an undercut and hoping the tires would last for the remainder of the race.
And the undercut would work indeed, after entering the pits from 10th position he was back in 6th position after all pit stops were done. Being on the older tires he had a train forming behind, but managed to defend his position till lap 36.
Going into turn 1 Graham Carroll tried to overtake on the inside of T1 but overshot his apex and sent Kazuki off the track into a spin. The Japanese driver would continue his race in 10th position and managed to maintain that till the end of the race.
Yuta Saito managed to gain 2 positions at the time of the incident, but soon got overtaken by the recovering Graham Carroll and a few laps later Greger Huttu relegated Yuta back in 8th position. The group was still bunched up by Peter Berryman who was dropping back after having made a really early pitstop on lap 20 of the 53 lap race.
On lap 48 he managed to pass Peter on the inside going into the Casio triangle, but Peter tried to defend by going for the inside at the exit and as Yuta turned in they made contact and Yuta spun his car and dropped back to 9th position where he would finish as well.
On the opening laps Paul climbed to the 20th position, but he was struggling with the weather conditions as well and made several mistakes which lost him a couple positions before the pitstops. He still stayed out for a long time and gambled to gain some positions in the end as he would have fresher tires. As others indeed struggled Paul managed to climb to the 21st position until he made a big mistake while trying to catch up with the group in front. This put him under pressure by Dion Vergers again and after a contact on the last lap Paul hit the incident limit and got disqualified and would be classified 22nd.
Q: The little practice I had was focused on race practice, so I was expecting to qualify somewhere at the back of the grid.
On my first lap I ran wide on the curb in Degner 1, so I aborted the lap and so for the next attempt I had to find the balance between pushing hard and staying on the safe side as I didn't have a time on the board yet.
The lap wasn't too bad, but could have been a tenth of 2 faster I recon and ended up qualifying in 27th.
It was much to my surprise though to see that Mogar and Kazuki managed to claim the front row, which is a great accomplishment for the them and the team.
R: I had some side by side action with Diogo in the first lap which was cool, but wasn't able to make the pass stick, then dodged some of the spun cars on the opening lap and settled in 21st after that.
I was hoping to have a strong car looking at the Q results from Mogar and Kazuki, but it just seemed that the much colder race conditions didn't work in our favour.
Towards the end of the first stint the car I really started struggling with lots of oversteer and lack of grip in the rear. I started making lots of mistakes and nearly lost the car a couple times and lost some positions. I decided to stick with the 1 stop strategy and was just hoping that the guys in front of me would be struggling towards the end of the race.
That kind of worked out when a train started to form in front of me behind Jorge who stopped very early and it allowed me to catch up with them.
Then Tomo and Diogo had their incident which allowed me to pass Jorge as well and I gained 3 positions without really have to do anything.
From there on it was just pushing towards the end and hoping I could close the gap to Jake and Alex in front. That wouldn't happen though as I somehow lost the car completely in the Dunlop corner and had to come to a complete standstill.
This cost me a lot of time and the 9s gap to Dion was less then 2 seconds now.
On the final lap Dion caught up with me and I was trying to manage my ERS to be able to stay in front.
Out of the hairpin I thought I could save it a bit more, but Dion was closing in quicker then I expected and put the car on my inside going into spoon.
I left him some room but we came together and the 4x contact sent me spinning off the track.
Due to all my mistakes this pushed me over the limit and so this was my first race where I was disqualified I think.
Luckily all the cars behind us were already lapped by Martin so it only cost me one position.
A big thanks to my teammates for all their hard work and the quick car.
Also have a look at Mogar's pole position lap and Paul's onboard footage of the race.
The championship continues with the penultimate round at the Nürburgring GP track September 24th.