Sacha Shows Pace Despite Weather Intrerupted Debut
The circuit, located around 30 miles north east of Okayama City in the western region of Japan’s largest island, played host to the opening race of this year’s Super GT Series season. It would also be Sacha’s first race weekend in a GT car after four successful seasons in single-seaters.
Sacha and his Kondo Racing team-mate, Kazuki Hiramine, had work to do with the car behaving differently to what they were used to after the official Super GT test at Fuji last month, although despite this they finished practice strongly on Friday with a fifth in the GT300 class.
The French-Argentinian and his Japanese team-mate were able to get the car set up a lot better in time for qualifying on Saturday. After Hiramine was able to get the #56 through Q1 and into the second qualifying session it was Sacha’s turn to put down some fast laps.
In the end he qualified the Kondo Racing team in eighth position for the first race in the 2019 season, and while Sacha believes P7 was possible, he was still very happy for his first qualifying session in Super GT.
“I think it went really well. I think I did a good job finishing P8, and we were the first Nissan car in class.
“We should have gotten P7, if it wasn’t for a small mistake during the flying lap, but I think it was a good job for my first ever qualifying in a GT car.”
After a dry start to the weekend, the weather for the race on Sunday was completely different. Heavy rain caused the race to start behind the safety car - with Hiramine taking control of the #56 to begin with - and when it did get underway on lap four the safety car came back out again before the lap had ended.
The race eventually got back underway on lap 11, although just three laps later it was red flagged due to a collision involving two GT300 cars further back in the field.
Nearly an hour later, with the race at that point expected to run to the local curfew of 17:30, the crowd at Okayama got some more green flag action before the safety car came out again. The race was then red flagged and eventually cancelled, with half points being given.
While Sacha was not able to show his talent on track during the race because of the rain disruptions, he praised his team-mate for being able to finish fifth in class.
“There were some incidents on track, but my team-mate Kazuki did a really good job. We were up to P4, then the car behind us made a late lunge which put us on the gravel and we lost two positions. In the end they got penalised, so we finished up P5. We did a good job, with a decent amount of points scored as well.
Also want to give a massive thank you to Nismo, Yokohama and Kondo for all of their great support and hard work all weekend.”
Super GT will be back in action at Fuji Speedway on the first weekend of May - the end of Japan’s ‘Golden Week’ holiday. However Sacha will be racing again next weekend when he makes his Japanese F3 debut at Suzuka Circuit.