Images: BAM MEDIA
AIDAN READ and teammate Alberto Di Folco have delivered the season’s best result with fifth in the overall classification in the Blancpain GT Series Asia in Japan. It was another significant step forward in the career progress of the Perth young gun.
It was a triumph for Aidan and his fellow Lamborghini Squadra Corse GT3 Academy driver.
Perhaps more significant than the result was the performance, particularly in the ever-worsening wet weather conditions of Race 2. Aidan got to grips with his first wet GT3 race and excelled. He propelled his Lambo from handover in 10th at the halfway point of the hour-long race to a finishing fifth. He was consistently fastest,running at times three-seconds quicker than the leading group.
The legendary Suzuka track in Japan in notorious for being a ‘drivers track’, with challenging corners and a technical layout. Aidan, had not previously raced at the venue, had limited time to familiarise himself with the circuit.
With a short free practice introduction, he had little more running before qualifying. An off-track excursion from his teammate took the car out of the important second practice session.
Aidan soon found the maximum performance and balance and did a solid job qualifying ninth for Race 1. Alberto also struggled at qualy for Race 2, resulting in a lowly 15th starting spot.
Taking the start for Race 1 Aidan pushed on quickly, getting the car up to sixth at the hand over. But Alberto incurred a drive-through penalty for leaving the pits too soon. The pair could only manage 12th.
Light rain fell for Sunday’s Race 2 start and Alberto knew he had a tricky job on his hands. But both youngsters knew the partnership was gelling nicely. Alberto handed over in 10th in steady rain with 30 minutes to run to the flag.
Aidan (right) on a high at Suzuka.
It was Aidan’s first experience at Suzuka on full wets. After a tentative out lap he soon found the limits of the tyres and took the race to his competitors. He was going quicker and quicker and lapping much faster than his rivals.
An incredible side-by-side battle for fourth ensued with the experienced Darryl O’Young. The Porsche driver said he was fortunate to hold off Aidan. “He was very fast” and “raced cleanly and with trust”, Darryl said.
The result was Aidan’s best of the season and strengthens his position in the championship for ‘pro driver’ pairings.
“I am really pleased with the result.” said Aidan. “Last time out we were sixth (in Buriram, Thailand) and now fifth – the target I set myself. Next we’re in Fuji. And where I’ll be looking to make the step up to the overall podium on a track I raced at last year in Asian Le Mans. The only downside to a great weekend was getting the pit lane penalty for the second race running. The team have put measures in place to prevent this happening. It’s demotivating when we’re putting so much effort into the on-track performance.”
On his first wet race in a GT3 car, Aidan was naturally happy with the experience: “I was confident in the car and as soon as I got to know the limit of grip in the tyres I was able to really push. Had I been able to know the tyres sooner, a podium should have been possible. I was cautious at first, not wanting to go off.”
The next round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia is back in Japan – at the Mount Fuji Circuit – August 19-20.
Check out www.aidanread.com.au or view content on his YouTube channel.