Situated to the south of the city of Nagoya, Suzuka has seen many Formula One drivers come and go with some previous outstanding performances. This week a new outstanding performance saw series leader and defending champion Ethan Grigg Gault racing for SDC Motorsports take another chequered flag to continue his recent good form.
From earlier races, it was apparent that the SDC team had done their homework during the week as they Simpit Holden Commodores locked-out the front row for the first time. Grigg Gault, taking the pole position by almost three tenths of a second over the second place sister car of Michael Cracknell. A surprising third place in the ERA car was Marcello Rivera, who, considering his limited track time, showed that his consistency continues to improve. George Maris, making a welcomed return to the series for ANZ motorsport found himself in fourth position in front of Ian Ford and Beau Cattell.
32 laps of sim racing stood between the green lights and the chequered flag, and from qualifying and practice it really was a case of “by how much” as from the “get go” Grigg Gault had a great jump from the line. This would be the closest that the field would get to the defending champion. As the cars settled into their opening laps the first drama would come at the Casio Triangle, the final chicane, where it appeared Maris, who had worked his way into third place, braked far too early. Some would suggest a brake check, that would have Ford running out of road after he tried to brake at the usual mark. The ensuing chaos allowe Maris’ teammate — Beau Cattell — through even after slight contact from the trailing cars as a result of the mess caused up front. Young Josh Rogers, continuing his excellent form of late, was lucky to escape any damage and even made a gain as a result of the dramas caused by Maris.
Ford, however, was not as lucky and the damage to his car would end his race, causing him grief for the overall championship. Maris, after suffering light damage, was able to continue on without interruption while Cattel, promoted to third as Rivera gained to fourth place.
From the previous week where the 6Boost car of Corey Preston won pole position, the ground fell away at Suzuka. Preston fell to the rear of the grid after a problematic qualifying at Suzuka. From last place, Preston immediately made major progress through the field, gaining seven positions by lap 5 and tagging on to the rear of the top 10. At Spoon Curve, however, Preston struck difficulties where, after running wide on exit, he encountered the cars of Brenton Hobson and Ellis Teal. The Preston car would lose significant time with damage and not be a threat for the remainder of the race.
With the fuel being limited, strategy figured to again play a part in the outcome of the race; the introduction of fuel reductions has been a big success to the V8 series giving a wider aspect to strategy.
As has been the case in many other races, there is always one who tends to make a significant gain and others who make losses. Jason Dickson in the Sim Spec SDC car pitted first to take on new tyres and fuel. The immediate gain from having new rubber allowed him to string together a series of fast laps, whilst at the same time, Maris, who delayed his stop, was as much as 1.5s slower and was eventually be passed from the undercut. The Dickson and Maris cars would finish in seventh and eight positions.
The quiet achievers of the race, Andy Carey and Josh Rogers ran strong times throughout with a good pit strategy, getting their just rewards in fifth and sixth behind the Maverick Welding car of Rivera in what was a largely uneventful race for the trio after the lap three dramas.
At the front, however, Grigg-Gault showed that he was the complete class of the field with a string of incredibly consistent and fast laps that saw him take the most dominant win of the season finishing 17 seconds ahead of team mate Cracknell and 30 seconds ahead of previous race winner Cattell.
So with recent wins, Grigg-Gault continues to strengthen his claim to win yet another official series. There is no doubt a long way to go, Suzuka being the half way mark of the series, but with another strong track at Brands Hatch to come, the field has to work hard to make gains into the multiple series champion’s lead.
With the weekly views over 2,000 views the popularity and the participation is high with new sim raacers coming to the series.
Find the full race replay here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfehQFV-TzA