Mechanical failure halts promising race

November 2020

Sacha Fenestraz’s Super Formula race at Autopolis came to an early end, when after just six laps the rear left wheel unexpectedly came off his car and forced him to retire out of a promising race.

The unfortunate mechanical problem for the French-Argentinian driver gave him his third retirement in three races after finishing his debut race in Super Formula on the podium.

After getting experience on track during the practice sessions on Saturday, Sacha’s first qualifying lap was disrupted by a red flag. However he managed to get into Q2 and narrowly missed out on the final qualifying session for pole position.

Sacha had a good start and made it through the first turn unscathed on the opening lap. He started to settle into 10th position, 4 places ahead of his teammate, before on lap six of 41 his left rear wheel came off, forcing him to stop on the side of the track. This put an end to a promising race in which based off the race pace Sacha had during the early laps, a second podium finish of the season was possible.

As Sacha explained after the race, he and Kondo Racing are still not sure what the cause of the issue was.

“The exit of Turn 6 I felt a puncture of some sort, but when I quickly checked the tyre pressures nothing seemed wrong.
“When I turned into the next corner I just lost the rear left tyre, and I wasn’t able to get back to the pit. We don’t know what happened as the wheel nut and the tyre itself looked ok when we got them back.”

Sacha believes that without this incident he could have been on course to battle for a podium position.

“The five laps that I did I thought that the car felt good. Our strategy was to do an early pit stop, and seeing what happened in the race and where my teammate (Kenta Yamashita) ended, I think a challenge for the podium was definitely possible.
“It was a shame. Luck is just not with me recently in Super Formula.”

There are three races left of the 2020 Super Formula season, including a double-header weekend at the beginning of December at Suzuka. The season then ends on December 20 at Fuji Speedway.

Before then however, Sacha will rejoin Team Au’ Toms at Fuji Speedway for the final Super GT race of the year. Sacha and his team-mate are still in contention to win the GT500 championship.