GT300 Sacha Fenestraz: Experience pays off in Autopolis

Sacha Fenestraz's previous experience of racing at Autopolis paid off as he rose up the order on a drying track to finish eighth in class in Super GT.

The French-Argentinian driver was returning to the track for the first time since he dominated in Japanese Formula 3 by winning all three races that weekend.

 

Sacha took the wheel of the #56 Kondo Racing Nissan for the first round of qualifying in dry conditions. With limited practice on brand new tyres and 64 kilograms of success ballast from the previous race - the second-highest of all GT300 cars – it was always going to be tough session.

Carrying the equivalent of an extra passenger in the car makes it incredibly hard to be constantly fast, but he overcame this challenge and got through into the second round of qualifying. This gave his team-mate Kazuki Hiramine the chance to qualify ninth for Sunday's race and the second highest Nissan GTR.

Hiramine started the race on Sunday, which initially stayed dry. He had moved up to seventh in the opening 10 laps and kept position as the rain gradually started to affect part of the circuit around lap 21 of 65.

Unfortunately for Sacha and Hiramine, the safety car was deployed at the wrong time for their pit strategy, this meant when Sacha had took to the track he was running down in 16th in unpredictable conditions.

"At the beginning of my stint I did one or two laps before the safety car came out again. It was very tough to get temperature into the tyres, as we were on slick tyres and the circuit was still wet."

Sacha trusted that the weather would improve and become an advantage later in the race, and during the final stages the circuit began to dry. With the experience of racing in similar conditions in the Japanese F3 round at the same circuit, Sacha quickly got up to pace.

During the final 12 laps he was the fastest GT300 car on the track and setting consistently fast laps. By the end the race Sacha had risen back up to eighth position, scoring valuable points for the overall championship.

"I knew that at this track from racing here in Formula 3 that there is good grip in the rain on slick tyres, so I was confident of myself in these conditions.
"I was very happy with my performance the whole weekend, and being able to score more points is important for the championship."

Sacha is next in action with Kondo Racing alongside team-mate Hiramine in just two weeks time at SUGO Sportsland, where they're still in the fight for the Super GT title in the GT300 class.

Qualifying : 9th - Kazuki Hiramine & Sacha Fenestraz
Race : 8th - Kazuki Hiramine & Sacha Fenestraz

Ashley Bibby,


Marie-France Estenave pour MFE-Live.com

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