As Sacha and his #36 au Tom’s team-mate Yuki Sekiguchi were leading the GT500 class championship, they entered the fourth round of the season with a combined handicap of 82 kilograms.
Along with up to 50kg of weight ballast, Sacha’s Toyota Supra had two fuel flow restrictors in place. In comparison their nearest rivals in the championship had the equivalent of 66kg and 52kg.
Sacha went into the first qualifying group after getting to grips with the success handicap and the Motegi circuit. He ended up qualifying in 14th place and was only 0.02s off the #37 Team Keeper Tom’s fastest lap, despite the difference in weight handicap.
Sacha took the wheel again for the start of the race, with the weather staying dry. It was a professional stint from the French-Argentinian driver as he managed the tyre wear in 14th and kept close to the cars in front. Through a quick pit stop one lap later than his rivals, the team was able to make up positions.
“My stint wasn’t too bad although it was hotter on track than we were expecting. We had soft tyres on the car, so we struggled with tyre degradation early into the run. From that point I was focusing on managing the tyres and not losing too much time to the cars in front.
“We were able to go one lap longer so I was able to push a bit more with clear air. We had a very good pit stop, and we had moved up to eighth when my team-mate come out of the pits.”
Unfortunately during Sekiguchi’s stint, while in the running for a good points paying position, an incident that was out of his control with the sister #37 Tom’s car caused damage to the rear. With Sekiguchi coming worse off from the collision and the performance of the car hampered, he crossed the line in 11th, just outside of the points.
“It was a difficult end for us and it’s a shame that this happened for the team, especially as we lost P10 on the last lap. It was always our target with the handicap on our car to finish in the top 10.
“It is a shame but this happens. We'll go to the next Super GT race in Fuji with other cars around us in the championship with similar weight handicaps.”
Sacha and Sekiguchi are still second overall in the GT500 class despite the difficult weekend. The Super GT season is at the half-way point with four more races left.
Before joining Team Au Tom’s back at Fuji Speedway on the first weekend of October, Sacha will compete in the second Super Formula race of 2020 at Okayama International Circuit.