Race report: Suzuka, 5 October 2021

Copper Horse Racing puts in fast laps under the stars to bag another top 10 finish  

In season 7, Car 59 raced around Zolder and now – in season 8 – it’s time to add another John Hugenholtz designed track to the list – the mighty Suzuka circuit. Built in the 1960’s to fulfill Honda’s test track needs, the technical layout wastes no time in discovering a driver’s limit thanks to iconic features such as ‘the Esses’ (or ‘Snake’) and ‘Spoon curve’. 

Esses from the air: after navigating turn one, competitors then snake through a series of ‘S’ curves.

Also, if that wasn’t enough to contend with, series organisers Apex Online Racing have made this event a night race, although sparingly, a dry night race.  

Fully committed: Car 59 positions itself for the high-speed 130R bend followed by Sweden’s Mathias Alenmalm in an underrated LEXUS RC F GT3 – one of the best handling models on the grid. 

Green lights and away 

Qualifying mid-pack in P12, it was important to survive the opening laps without incident. A couple of bumps from neighbouring drivers threatened to send the white and green 2015 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 off-track. But lead driver David Rogers had confidence in the vehicle settings and managed to keep Car 59 between the white lines. So began the 60 minutes slog around a very physically demanding circuit (yes, that’s right – sim racing can be both physically and mentally demanding!).  

First lap action at Suzuka in Season 8 of AOR’s GT3 sim-racing series.

Under race conditions, the Lamborghini performed well across all three sectors as grip levels allowed it to find more time through the Hairpin and two Degner corners – sequences that had been more costly in qualification with less rubber on track. A conscious choice had been made to increase the level of rear wing for this race and to keep the traction control at a reasonable level as the cold night air made the track slippery than usual. 

Overtaking opportunity: Copper Horse Racing’s white and green Lamborghini pulls ahead of Davy Melin in a McLaren.

Playing the long game, Car 59 had moved up five places to 7th by lap 10, picking its battles to keep within the limits of track and driver. As the leaders pitted, the Secure-CAV liveried Lamborghini enjoyed a short spell at the front of the race until it too had to stop for new tyres. 

Cockpit view: Copper Horse racing spent much of the race behind Brazilian driver Matheus Martins who drove well in a Mercedes AMG GT3. 

Rejoining the action, the biggest concern was obeying track limits, particularly around the tricky ‘Spoon’. With ten minutes to go, a second track limits warning was received; one more and it would be a stop-go penalty. Careful driving in that section for the remainder allowed the Lambo to steer clear of last minute disaster! 

Penalties avoided, it was an encouraging night’s work as Car 59 registered its best race result in the competition so far – P8. 

X-section: Suzuka’s figure of eight layout is enabled by an overpass. Race leader Nico Urbantat heads under the bridge, stuck in traffic between the yellow number 87 McLaren of Northern Ireland’s Willy Cranston in 13th and 14th-placed number 878 of Poland’s Robert. Davy Melin’s number 22 McLaren 720s GT3 in 9th place crosses over the top. 

Secure-CAV makes its YouTube debut 

With our race reports in double figures, you probably know a great deal about our exploits on track. But there’s plenty that happens when we’re not racing. One of our biggest projects currently is Secure-CAV, where Copper Horse is contributing threat modelling and security testing expertise. And a quick way of finding out more, is to check out this short film commissioned by the project partners and made over the summer by Suited & Booted studios

Podium positions 

No change from Last week with Nico Urbantat taking the win once again and Matthew North coming second. But the third spot has proven to be less predictable with Teis Hertgers taking P3 this time around. 

Top spot: Nico Urbantat in a Porsche 991 takes the win at Suzuka.

About the author 

James Tyrrell is a Threat Modelling Analyst at Copper Horse.