The break in the SRO season between Indianapolis and Suzuka saw a huge update hit Assetto Corsa Competizione with many updates and changes to many cars including aero packages, engine buffs, suspension and damper changes amongst other things such as ballast changes per track. The overall pecking order of the manufacturers had indeed changed. One manufacturer benefitting from this was the Aston Martin. Finally, after struggling all season with being way off the pace of the leading manufacturers even when BOP was applied. Suddenly there was hope heading into Suzuka of a good result.
Suzuka, Japan. Round 3
Arriving at Suzuka the team went through another driver line-up change. Out of the team went Joshua Allan and into the team came Pedro Marzan. Ryley was also back from his break away from the team which meant we were operating at full strength. The team of Chris Severt, Pedro Marzan and Ryley Murdock would tackle the 10h of Suzuka with Adrien Bourdon acting as a chief engineer instead of a driver.
Suddenly the highest Aston Martin in Qualifying came from the Pro class and sat in P12. Chris Severt put the car P24 overall and P8 in class while qualifying for our personal best performance of the season so far, with 4 Astons inside the top 25. A major turnaround compared to the opening two rounds where the Astons were non-existent in the top 25.
Rewatch all the action from round 3 below:
Our good fortunes stayed with us during the opening stint of the race as we progressed into P7 in class. But as is the nature of Suzuka, there were trains forming up and down the grid with teams lapping bumper to bumper meaning strategy calls needed to come into play. Adrien, verbally in the ears of the drivers, opted to go for the short stint strategy to undercut the field and it worked out beautifully. Chris Severt double stinting the first two hours found himself into P6 in class and P20 overall with some fantastic racing, overtaking and race craft.
A second pit stop and a second undercut attempt then, saw Pedro Marzan come out for hour three and appear in P5 in class and P19 overall. The undercut was working its magic as the team could have those vital laps in clear air to gap the trains of cars. Unfortunately, the hard work would be undone when a competitor spun Pedro around. We dropped to P23 overall and P8 in class.
Chris Severt jumped back in for what would be another double and final stints in the car taking the team to the halfway point in the race, seeing us sit P22 overall.
The Halfway Point
Ryley Murdock was introduced to the race at the halfway point, jumping into the driving seat for his first stint of the 10h race here at Suzuka. It was pretty much status quo for the entire stint as we maintained P23 overall and P8 in class, but the pace was strong and we were closing up on the field and our class competitors.
8 hours of the race complete then and the sun was already setting at 6pm local time in Japan. Between Pedro and Ryley the team climbed back up into the top 20 overall and sat P7 in class after a number of teams started to pick up DT penalties for track limit violations. It was evident the race was still on for positions between P4 and P8 in Silver class as 30s separated all four teams, which in endurance racing, is a rather close gap that can swing and change in an instant.
45 minutes left in the 10h of Suzuka and we found ourselves P7 in class and P19 overall, only 10s behind P6 in class. Then the racing gods spoke to us as a DT penalty for one of the teams up ahead meant we moved up to P6 in class with just 20 minutes of the race left.
The team also had to be careful themselves as three track limit warnings sat glaring them in the face on the dash. So it was race management until the flag. This meant our 10s cushion to the team behind us also vanished and it was a literal dash to the line coming out of the final corner with just 0.511 of a second separating ourselves in P6 and P7 after 10 whole hours of racing.
The Finish Line
The team crossed the line in darkness, finishing P6 in class and P18 overall for the team’s best result and performance in the SRO IGTC season so far. It was a firm pat on the back for Chris, Ryley, Pedro and Adrien who had to overcome being spun around twice in the race, had to avoid track limit violations, had to make the undercut strategy work and had to avoid rapidly closing competitors in the final 30 minutes.
I know they enjoyed themselves a romeo’s gin at the end of this one! Maybe you can too:
The team now sit P12 in the overall standings just 9 points away from the top 10 and 24 points away from the top 5. We just need the final two rounds to be like Suzuka and we will be there or thereabouts in the championship standings. The 9h of Kyalami is next in the SRO IGTC season where we know the Aston is also strong. If we can avoid having too much ballast applied to level the BOP between manufacturers, we actually stand a chance of grabbing the win here. The 24h of Spa-Francorchamps, which had to be rescheduled earlier in the season due to the infamous DDoS attacks will complete this season of SRO IGTC.