The French-Argentinian driver and his team-mate Yuki Sekiguchi managed to rise up the field from P12 to finish third. After a successful start to the championship their Toyota GR Supra was carrying multiple success handicaps, with 45 kilograms of additional weight ballast and a restricted air intake.
Going into practice with the maximum amount of ballast restricting the car, Sacha and Team Au Tom’s worked on getting the car set up right and adapting to the new track of Suzuka. It was Sacha’s first time around the circuit in the GT500 car.
Sacha knew that qualifying was going to be tough for them, and the team put him in charge of the first qualifying group. Unfortunately he missed out on going to the top eight shoot-out and qualified P12.
Despite this, Sacha was fairly happy with his performance and believes that was around the maximum they were able to achieve in the circumstances.
“We knew that qualifying was going to be very tough with the success penalties, and it was harder for me as it was my first time out around Suzuka in this car.
“I felt that I did a good job in qualifying on new tyres, but the car was very heavy and felt quite slow even at the limit."
Sacha again was trusted with the opening stint like in the previous two races. He rose up and through the field, using the traffic and two safety car periods to his advantage. He proved to be competitive out on track despite the additional weight.
Sacha explained that it was a difficult but rewarding stint.
“It was a difficult race, especially going through traffic. Suzuka is narrower than Fuji and it was my first time dealing with GT300 traffic here. A key part of the weekend for me was trying to manage the traffic as best as I could, and I think I did a good job. The safety cars were helpful and I was able to put in some nice overtakes.”
Eventually he pitted from sixth position and gave the car to Sekiguchi at the end of lap 24. The team managed to gain another spot through the pit cycle, and during the second half of the race moved up into third position after an incident between two cars in front.
Sekiguchi took the chequered flag in third position with a large gap to fourth place behind. The result extended their championship lead to eight points with fifteen points separating Sacha and his team-mate from third overall.
“An amazing job by everyone this weekend. I can’t believe it really, I don’t know how we managed to end up P3 with the heaviest car on the grid. Before the race finishing around P6 to P8 would have felt like a victory for us. To end up third is incredible.”
Sacha will be back in action next weekend as he makes his debut at Twin Ring Motegi in Super Formula, the premiere open-wheel championship in Japan. He will then return to Motegi and the Super GT paddock to race on September 13.