Going into the fifth race of the 2020 season, Sacha and his #36 Au Tom’s team-mate Yuhi Sekiguchi were still second in the GT500 drivers’ championship after finishing in 11th place at Twin Ring Motegi.
For the race at Fuji they still had the same amount of success handicap to contend with. This was made up of 50kg weight ballast and two fuel flow restrictors.
In qualifying the added handicap hindered Sekiguchi’s chance to get into the Q2 and battle for pole position. Despite this his 1:28.776 time placed them in P10 and ahead of their championship rivals who had a similar handicap.
“We weren’t expecting to go into Q2 as with this weight handicap it’s very difficult. He managed to do a very good job to qualify P10 ahead of some cars with less of a handicap.”
Like the previous four races this season, Sacha was behind the wheel of the #36 Toyota GR Supra at the start. The race was disrupted at the beginning by an early safety car, however it didn’t take long for the race to get underway again.
By lap 7 of 66 Sacha was still holding 10th position. Over the course of the next 13 laps he managed to move up to seventh and kept up with the cars in front, despite the success handicap.
Sacha was one of the last five GT500 cars to pit before handing the car over to his team-mate at the end of lap 28. Sekiguchi locked up on cold tyres early on which made his stint more difficult, but he managed to hold on to seventh position during the middle portion of the race.
Unfortunately a mixture of the handicap, tyre wear and strong battles meant that Sekiguchi dropped down the order before suffering a tyre puncture towards the end of the race meaning he crossed the line in 12th.
“We both struggled with the balance of the car today, which then generated more problems later on in the race with the tyres.
“The result is a shame, but we will learn from this race and focus on improving for the next race to keep in the battle for the championship.”
The result means that Sacha and his team-mate are fourth on the GT500 drivers’ standings with three races to go, but with just six points separating them from first place.
Sacha will travel to Sportsland Sugo in two weeks time to compete in Super Formula, before joining up with Team Au Tom’s at Suzuka for the next Super GT round.