Round 2 of the 2020.1 SA simiGTc Series was held at Suzuka, the ever changing conditions made for a challenging race to see multiple race leaders on different strategies.
The race got off to a clean start to see a quick Leslie Oliphant pressuring Ichor’s Zaahir Essa for the race lead, only to see the two cars make contact and allow ATKs Basheer Jadwat to go to the front. Lap 7 saw rain fall with Jadwat leading Oliphant and Essa. Jadwat pitted first for wet tyres. Oliphant, Essa, Langeveldt and Wilken followed soon after. However, Ghostworx’s Markus Steyn took a gamble and braved the wet on slicks, the decision saw him lead the race throughout the wet conditions. Later a dry track saw Steyn still leading with a pitstop in hand and his competitors around him still on wet tyres. The closing stages saw Oliphant and Jadwat passed Steyn. Oliphant fended off Jadwat to take victory.
2020.1 SA simiGTc Series Round 2 Suzuka : Monday 9 March 2020
Sim Race SAs correspondent, Henry Roux. caught up with his fellow competitors after the race. . .
HR: “Leslie, welcome back to the league, awesome drive and a well deserved win in difficult conditions. Many congratulations. You had a migthy fight with Essa in the beginning, a great defense against Jadwat in the closing laps and everything in between. How did the race go for you and were there ever any doubts when you saw that Steyn stayed out on dry tyres, in effect gaining a free pit stop?”
Leslie Oliphant :” Hi Henry. Good to be back. Thanks, it was a great race. Essa was defending quite hard. The Porsche was too slow on the straights. Bash was flying at the end. I was worried about Steyn. He had a great strategy. Overall I had a great race but I still have a lot to learn.”
HR: ” Basheer, congratulations, a great drive and a well deserved podium under difficult conditions. You had Oliphant in your sights there at the end and it went down to the last corner. When the rain came it was decision time and you were the first car in to pit for wet tyres. The race was on against Steyn who stayed out on slicks. How did your race go and did you ever doubt you made the right call?”
Basheer Jadwat (ATK) :” Thanks Henry.. well done to you too. That was one of the most intense races I have ever been involved in. Firstly congrats on an amazing qualy to Zaahir and Leslie. The start of the race was great for me, I was pretty comfy in p3 keeping up with the two ahead. I got to the front thanks to the contact with Leslie and Zaahir. Then the heavens opened and i pitted when i saw the puddles forming and i couldnt keep my lines. My car was more than a handful on the wets. In hindsight, looking at Markus’ race, the better option would have been to ride out the slicks but hindsight is 20:20. Great race strat by Markus there! When it dried off at the end, I was around 15 or so seconds behind so I ran as hard as I could to try and catch up. Markus ran wide at the hairpin letting me by and I had 4 or so laps to catch Leslie. I caught him relatively easy but could not make a decisive move without risking both of our cars so in those laps behind, I only really had one go at 130R but I could see the carnage coming so backed out and finished in p2. Overall I am super stoked to have a good result in these conditions”
HR: “Markus, many congratulations on your podium. You made the bold call to stay out on slicks when the rain came and it almost, almost bagged you a win. Great strategy and solid drive. How did the race go for you and how nervous were you to stay out on slicks when everyone around you pitted for wets.?”
Markus Steyn (Ghostworx):” Sup Henry, thanks. Yeah I knew I had to make a different call seeing the front running pace. Few factors made me very nervous..I lost all my auto settings for ignition, start, lights & wipers.. so had to quickly map buttons for ignition/starter before the race..which toom away my lights on switch..I had to find by feel F1 to switch to bonnet cam as I had no wipers…that worked out ok and I could feel the car really well in the wet and decided to go for it..I had more fun than nervous. But a few hairy moments that I luckily survived… For the lights luckily my wife was around I shouted for her to press L and Shift L until my lights came on in the dark…when the rain stopped I switched back to cockpit view. Would’ve liked the win.. was totally possible..but Leslie and Bash was insanely quick. Well done guys! Great race.”
HR: “Christopher, great race. You were catching Steyn at a rate of knots at the end and maybe one more lap would have given you a chance for a podium. You were on different tyre strategies when the rain came and in the end there was almost nothing in it. How did your race go and did you feel you made the right call to pit for wet tyres?”
Christopher Langeveldt (The Simracing Crew) :”hi yeah thanks.was happy with my lap in qualy made a few mistakes through the esses but all in all my pd on the track.when i came in the pits i thought i did the correct strategy changing to the wets but after a few laps they were overheating like crazy and then i knew maybe wets werent the right choice.i really enjoyed the race as it was really tight and the rain made things really interesting as no one could break away.yeah 1 more lap and i would have had 3rd place.Made no real mistakes in the race.we will see what the next race will have in store.
HR: “Hey Charl, great drive last night. For most of the race it was hard to pick a winner from the top 5. You also opted for the 2 stop strategy going on wets and back to slicks. How did the race go for you in general and do you think that the 2 stopper was the right call in the end?”
Charl Wilken (CW Racing): ”Hi Henry, at the moment I am learning the hard way. The first 30-min were great. Unfortunately after my first stop the pressures for the wets were set way to high, so they were cooked even when it was still wet. Had no choice to stop again. Funny that the set of slicks I put on had very low pressures and it took forever to get heat in them. I also forgot to switch the ECU map back to 1 from 3 after the second pitstop, which I only realised after 3 or 4 laps. So a difficult race for me. I find ACC immensely complicated and since I only started with it in January I clearly still have a lot to learn.”
HR: “Zaahir, commiserations, a difficult race for you. You had a blistering qualifying lap to put the car on pole and controlled the race nicely from the front until what looked like an unfortunate contact with Oliphant. The Porsche looked like quite a handful in the wet and cost a further few positions, but a solid comeback drive from you in the end. How did the race go for you and did you ever think there was a chance to stay out on slicks as some guys did?
Zaahir Essa (Ichor Racing): ”Haha thanks, I figured this season would a learning one to get to know ACC but it still sucks when the races don’t go right. The Porsche was a handful even in the qualifying track conditions compared to anything I’ve tried before, but I ended up on pole which was cool. The car is so sensitive to this stuff. I didn’t get time to finish tweaking my race setup for these different track conditions because of the short time available, things like this could easily be sorted out before the racing season imo but we are tweaking settings in the middle, a bit unfortunate. Anyway, I ended up joining the grid with a very well used set of tyres instead of new, by mistake. I struggled initially wondering what was going on and only realised after a couple laps. The Porsche is so horrendous in a straight line that coupled with my suboptimal grip, I just couldn’t get away. The contact with Oliphant was bad, I was initially pretty pissed that he didn’t let me back past but he said it was lag. After that the rain came down. In the Porsche I was either hoping for fully dry or fully wet, because the car is undriveable in wet conditions with a dry setup. In all the chaos of coming out the pits and trying not to spin at every corner, I had unnecessary contact with some guys and I apologise for that. I was basically tip toeing around to not die, and that wet stint was where the race was lost pretty badly. My pace was good again after switching back to dry tyres. I didn’t realise the trick of staying out on dry tyres in the wet, most of us are a bit inexperienced in ACC and all this will come in time. Onward!”
HR: “Dewald, solid P7 in difficult conditions. You went for the 2 stopper with a change to wet tyres and back to slicks. How did it your race go in general and were you surprised at the guys making a one-stop work?”
Dewald Nel (Centurion Racing): “I was caught off guard by their strategy for sure, but I had no idea beforehand that the time acceleration dries out the track faster as well, so it’s good knowledge for the future. I tried to make it work after I realised it was the wrong strategy, and I was catching P4-6 in the wet, but when it dried out I was slow again. Best track in the world, though, and I was sad when the race was over.”
HR: “Hugo, I’m a bit biased since we are teammates in ACC this season, so many congrats and good job banking points for the team. You were the only other car in the top 10 who made the one-stop strategy work, opting to stay out on slicks. Great call and it worked out well for you. How did the race go for you and were you ever a bit nervous staying out on slicks while everyone around you pitted for wets?”
Hugo De Wit (The Sim Racing Crew): “Thanks Henry. Starting off with qualifying i was further back then i wanted to be but i wasn’t too worried about it because a lot can happen in 90 minutes with a field of almost 40 cars.. For the race itself it went much better than i anticipated, never thought i would make a top 10 within a field with so much talent. Once it started to drizzle i decided to stay out for as long as i could, because i knew cold dry tires are just as bad as overheating wet tires since it didn’t rain hard enough to justify losing pit time and also there weren’t enough water on the track to cool the wets in my opinion. There were 2-3 laps that rained quite hard and i was thinking about pitting at that time but decided to stay out another lap or 2 and that was the best decision for me as the rain stopped soon afterwards and the track dried quite fast. I did a few more laps before my fuel was running low and only did a splash and dash as my tires were still fine. After my pitstop i knew all the fast guys were going to make up time on the dry track and i just tried to stay calm and managed to finish in 8th spot, which i think is my best result so far at SRSA GT3. On to the next one….”
HR: “Devon, commiserations, you had a tough race, picking up contact in the opening laps and serving 2 drive through penalties and still finishing in the top 10. Not the birthday present you were hoping for I’m sure, but still keeping it together to bring the car home. How did the race go for you and how did the car handle through the rain on slicks?”
Devon Leisher (The Simracing Crew):”Hey H, yeah was a cracker haha. I enjoyed not having a smooth race for my first ACC outing as I learnt a lot and will come out stronger next time. Overall i am quite happy with the result. Its a shame that Quayde and i collided lap 1. I’ve put his punt down as a racing incident, we all make mistakes. And he came off way worse than I did. I was hoping for a good battle with him for the race. But next time. As for the penalties, silly mistakes on my side. Drive through was caused by me losing the back of the car braking into the final chicane. Only way to not hit a wall was to just go straight over. And then the evil 30 second stop and go was as a result of me not setting my pit limiter as expected, and I proceeded to full send in the pits haha. But all part of the process. I am pretty impressed with the Porka and how it held up on the slicks in the wet. It was solid, and I have not felt confidence like that in the Porsche on any wet setup. The decision to stay on the slicks would have paid off tremendously if I didnt have those penalties, as I found myself all the way up in 3rd with a decent gap as the track started to dry up after I came out of the pits for my quick fuel stop.”
HR: “Johannes, welcome to the league. Solid drive last night at Suzuka, closing out the top 10. How did your race go and what did you do for tyre strategy when the rain came?”
Johannes Greyling (Repress eSports) :” “Hi Henry. Thank you for the warm welcome. From qualifying I struggled with pace as Suzuka is a track I have little experience on. The race went better than expected as I finished in 10th at the end. I had technical difficulties in the start of the race but kept my head down and focused on the long stint. The rain definitely brought an interesting aspect to the race. I enjoyed the rain the most and gained a lot of positions during the rain. Unfortunately the wet tires started to overheat which made it very difficult to keep consistent lap times. I’m looking forward to the next race at Laguna Seca”
Re-live the live stream of Round 2:
SA simiGTc Series Drivers’ Championship Standings after Round 2 at Suzuka:
SA simiGTc Series Teams’ Championship Standings after Round 2 at Suzuka: