DONKEY BOP OVERCOMES A BLAZING TRACK SURFACE TO SCORE AT THE 12 HOURS OF SUZUKA
April 18, 2020
(Suzuka, Japan) – How different this race at Suzuka was from the famous Hunt – Lauda championship duel at Suzuka in 1979, which played out in a heavy rain and fog.
Donkey Bop Racing entered four cars and thirteen drivers in the iRacing 12 hours of Suzuka held today. This was the first endurance race held in recent memory at this track. And instead of a lashing rainstorm, the weather for the race was hot and sunny, driving the track temperature up from the mid 80 degrees Fahrenheit at the start of the race to nearly 120 degrees during the early afternoon.
Nonetheless, two of the four Donkey Bop entries scored big. In the upper split, Donkey Bop #002, with an international set of drivers, including Stephen Jones (British), Zach Robinson (US), and Matthew Maseko (CAN) performed brilliantly. After starting 42nd in a field of 53 (SOF 1889) cars, the #002 team finished a very strong P7.
“My teammates were incredible, they kept the car clean, and stayed out of trouble,” commented Matthew Maseko.
“The fact this was a single class race led to a very competitive field,” said Jim Ray, Donkey Bop Racing Team Principal. The #002 car had four other cars on the same lap at the finish and ten cars total within 1 lap.
Donkey Bop #001, (crewed by Daniele Noventa (IT), JF Godin (CAN), and Chris Phillips (US)) also in the upper split, experienced more difficulty early with an unfortunate internet disconnect on the first stint, putting the car two laps down.
“So, from there we started pushing hard and had nothing to lose,” said Noventa. The #001 car still finished in a very respectable “plus” position at P21. It’s always a good sign if drivers have a very challenging day but manage to still score in a respectable position and add to their driver rating.
The Donkey Bop #003 car (Jerry Foehrkolb (US), Jim Ray (US), Milt Minter Jr. (US) and Ken Soszka (US)) in the lower split also scored well, finishing at P20 in full field of 53 (SOF 1495). The #003 car had to overcome a major setback at the beginning of the race dropping to the back of the field early, then making an epic comeback and charging through 60% of the field to grab the strong finish.
“Ken Soszka had an amazing day, completing 96 laps with only 4 safety incident points,” said Jim Ray.
In the Donkey Bop #008 (affectionately known as the Donkey Bop “Ocho”) car Jim Ray paired experienced driver Hal Kemrite (US) with two newer drivers – Kris Thompson (US) and Chet Barkin (US). Kemrite did his part, running 115 laps with only 13 safety incident points, and zero required repairs. The car finished the race at P32, and it was a race of “lessons learned” for the newer drivers in training. But the best way to learn is to get in the fight and start swinging. (Kris Thompson)
Up Next: The 24 hours of Nurburgring April 25, 2020.
Wish us luck!