Tag Archives: Suzuka

Japan Recap

The long summer break is over and the SBMRL opened up the league’s 5th season with a cracker of a race in Japan. Before getting to the details of the race, though, it’s always worth taking a few moments to review the changes around the league as far as the teams and drivers go.

The big question of the offseason was whether or not Sprite Racing would be fielding a team again this year. With Whiplash having won the driver’s championship last year and Bubba McQueen finishing in last place, the team only managed a 3rd place finish in the team standings. In the end, the team folded, with Whiplash getting picked up by Regency Motors to replace Sheila Dinkum. Regency Motors, having finished last in the team standings after never losing, was certainly eager to get a quality driver into the fold to help return to glory. Both Scandinavian Blitz and Force Ravenswood return the same lineup for this year.

Filling the void left by Sprite Racing will be Switch Motorsports, who will be racing in the dark blue livery traditionally associated with Red Bull. Mario will be driving with a blue rear wing and dark teal helmet, while Luigi will have a purple rear wing and light blue helmet.

Japan Race

With the offseason changes out of the way… let’s get to the race! Qualifying for SBMRL races normally uses the reverse order of the current season’s league standings, but for the first race, that’s not the case. Instead, qualifying for the first four grid slots was done through dice rolls. The final four slots were filled by reverse order of the teammates in the first four. When all was said and done, Launch Bornado was on pole with the Stig making up the other half of the front row.

P1 – Launch Bornado (FR)
P2 – The Stig (SB)
P3 – Jaap Snellrijder (RM)
P4 – Mario (SM)
P5 – Luigi (SM)
P6 – Whiplash (RM)
P7 – Rask Sjofar (SB)
P8 – Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)

2019 grid, lined up for Suzuka

Former champ, the Stig, got off to a hot start by timing the lights perfectly, getting a quick edge up on Launch right from the get go. The rest of the field found themselves closely packed through turn one and the Esses.

While the Stig was able to get a leg up at the start, Launch was smoother through the Esses and carried more momentum into Degner. That allowed Launch to get far enough ahead to be at the hairpin when the Stig was only just working his way through Degner. As he moved on from there, the rest of the field clashed at the spot he had just vacated, with 6 cars all wheel to wheel through the corner.

The pack fights for position

Over the first laps final sector, Launch pulled away from everyone in 130R. The Stig wasn’t able to handle Spoon cleanly, and that allowed Mario, Whiplash, and Delilah to all catch up with him. Mario, the Stig, and Whiplash all had the pace to keep ahead of the others and found themselves neck and neck in the chicane while Launch pitted for new tires.

The Stig’s brakes, however, had been heavily abused over the first lap and he wasn’t able to rely on them coming out of the corner. Instead, he found himself spinning on the pit straight rather than diving for fresh rubber.

The Stig spins out and misses the pits

The spinout lost the Stig enough time that Jaap, who opted not to pit, was able to pass him on the pit straight. Jaap’s new teammate, Whiplash, was able to get out of the pits quickly and establish himself in 2nd place early on the second lap, but Mario and Jaap weren’t far back. Behind them, Delilah had caught the Stig while Luigi closed in. Rask was well back at this point, pitting well behind the rest of the field.

Launch’s clean first lap was a distant memory as he began to struggle in the second sector on lap 2. He couldn’t find the right rhytm in Degner or the hairpin, which was something that both Mario and Whiplash did. Both challengers then passed Launch on the way into Spoon, and Jaap was closing in as well.

Bird’s eye view of Mario and Whiplash getting to Spoon before Launch

At this point, the Stig and Delilah were running in 5th and 6th, respectively, with Luigi close, but Rask a long way back. We’ll come back to them in a minute, but for now, Mario and Whiplash were in a drag race through 130R on their drive to the chicane and the victory.

Mario found the power he needed while Whiplash got the braking all wrong. While Launch was able to get close to Whiplash, neither could catch Mario who would win in his first time out.

Mario takes the win

While Whiplash was able to hold off Launch, and Jaap nearly reeled him in for 3rd place, but in the end, Launch got his podium with Jaap just behind.

The first four finishers were well ahead of the second half of the pack, and a large part of that was their inability to replicate the skilled driving of the others. None of the Stig, Delilah, or Luigi were able to make the run from the hairpin to Spoon smoothly. As a result, Rask was able to make up a lot of lost ground.

Slow out of Spoon, as Rask tries to catch up

Delilah was the car to charge forward out of this group, and Rask made his move at 130R to pass his teammate and Luigi. They ended up finishing 5th and 6th. While many observing were wondering if the Stig would even finish the race, he fought bravely through the second lap. Unfortunately, Luigi passed him at the final corner and he came in a distant last.

Delilah holds off Rask, while the Stig is about to be passed

Final Results

Mario (SM)441
Whiplash (RM)622
Launch Bornado (FR)113
Jaap Snellrijder (RM)334
Delilah Whipplefilter (FR)865
Rask Sjofar (SB)786
Luigi (SM)577
The Stig (SB)258

Mario’s win on debut makes it two straight years that we’ve had a rookie win their first race, with Rask winning at Road America last September.

Whiplash didn’t finish in 2nd place at all last year en route to winning the driver’s title, but it’s his 9th podium and best first race of a season that he’s had. Launch’s podium is his 18th, as the SBMRL’s career podium leader extended his lead over Jaap.

At a team level, Mario’s win was enough to give Switch Motorsports a 1 point lead over Regency Motors after they put two cars in the top 4. Force Ravenswood isn’t far back, but Scandinavian Blitz is an early hole with less than half the points of any of their rivals.

Race Gallery

Japan Preview

The first race of the 2019-20 season takes us to Japan, to race Suzuka International Racing Course. The league visited a few years ago in what proved to be a disastrous outing for Scandinavian Blitz, losing both cars right at the end.  Originally designed in the early 1960’s as a test track for Honda, it first hosted an official Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1987.


Suzuka is noted for the fact that it involves both clockwise and anti-clockwise portions of the track. It’s the only figure eight track that the SBMRL races at and features a number of notable corners that have made it a driver favorite through the years.

The pit straight is short and leads into a high speed right hander. Cars won’t have to slow down here at all on the run up from the grid. The “S” curves follow, a smooth rhythm section that can set up cars beautifully for the middle section, or get them all out of whack if not handled properly.

The Degner curve comes just before the underpass and it’s a short run from here to the hairpin. It’s imperative to get the straight between the hair pin and Spoon just right because Spoon is followed by the longest “straight” the track features.

The quotes are used there because it isn’t really straight. It takes a notable left at 130R, but this can be taken flat out. The final challenge is the Casio Triangle, and then it’s back onto the pit straight for the second lap. Any driver that needs to pit can do so, but don’t be surprised if several cars get away with a clean enough lap to be able to forego fresh tires.


As this is the first race of the season, the starting grid will be determined randomly just prior to the race.


The only previous race at Suzuka saw Force Ravenswood’s Bubba McQueen take the win over the failed charge from behind by the Stig. Bubba and the Stig were so far ahead of Captain Slow that they would have easily finished first and second, but the Stig wanted the win and pushed his car just a bit too hard. Captain Slow, who had been running in 3rd place, found his fate to be similarly agonizing. With both cars out, Whiplash took 2nd with his Sprite Racing teammate, Stevie Wondertyres coming 3rd.

SBMRL in Japan

Suzuka Recap

The SMBRL headed to Japan for the third leg of the 2017-18 season, to race Suzuka International Racing Course.  The day was cool with some morning rain, but the skies held back in the afternoon for what would ultimately be a dry race.  Here’s how the starting grid looked:

P1 – Stevie Wondertyres (Jason)
P2 – Bubba McQueen (Barb)
P3 – Captain Slow (Jason)
P4 – The Stig (Jason)
P5 – Whiplash (Frank)
P6 – Launch Bornado (Barb)
P7 – Jaap Snellrijder (Frank)
P8 – Sheila Dinkum (Frank)

A clean start to the race saw the front four jockeying for position through the first turn and then into the “Esses”.  The Regency Motors pair of Jaap and Sheila couldn’t quite figure anything out in the same stretch, failing to make up any ground even on Launch Bornado.

The first key moment of the race was the beautifully approach to the Degner Curve taken by Bubba and The Stig.  Both drivers hit the corner just right, leaving Captain Slow and Stevie to watch as they established an early lead.  They carried that momentum into the hairpin and on through Spoon.  By the time they hit 130R, they were seemingly miles ahead.

For their part, Captain Slow and Stevie did their best to keep the leading pair in their sights.  They were adept enough at it that the entire field eventually separated into pairs.  Launch and Whiplash were chasing Stevie while Jaap and Sheila were falling further behind and just hoping to have a clean enough lap to catch up at the pits.

Unfortunately, nearly everyone in front of them had run fairly clean, too.  Only Stevie opted to pit for fresh tires, meaning that the rest of the field plowed on to the second lap with nary a thought for those poor sods at the back.  The poorest of the sods was Jaap, who had pushed his car enough on the first lap to have to pit from last place.

Meanwhile, back at the front of the field, Bubba began to pull away from the Stig.  After hitting all the corners just right on the first lap, Bubba was putting in a repeat performance on lap 2.  The Stig was doing all he could to keep up, while at the same time starting to feel some pressure from Captain Slow behind him.  Whiplash had passed his teammate while Stevie was in the pits, putting Sprite Racing in 4th and 5th.

It was again the Degner Curve that allowed the Stig to get the separation from Captain Slow that he needed.  That solidified his 2nd place position, but with Bubba not putting a foot wrong, there was little that could be done beyond just keeping up in Spoon.  Degner was, incidentally, also the place where Launch managed to catch up with Whiplash and Stevie, leaving Sheila put out.

At last, Bubba and the Stig began their drag race through 130R and into the final chicane, this being the last ditch chance for the Stig to snatch victory from Bubba.  The Stig, being the true racer that he is, was not going to settle for 2nd if there was a shot at victory, so he gunned it and flew past Bubba.  Unfortunately, it was a bit too much, and he couldn’t control his car on the exit, his car crashing into the barriers just as he was entering the approach to the checkered flag.

Bubba cruised past with the win in hand, and then Captain Slow came charging down 130R and into the chicane as well.  With Whiplash and Stevie behind him and the finish line in sight, his engine failed catastrophically.  He was so close he could’ve pushed his car over the line, and what was looking like a double podium finish for Scandinavian Blitz turned into complete disaster.  The rest of the field came home in undramatic fashion, with no true fights remaining for position.

Final Results

Driver Start Lap Finish
Bubba McQueen (FR) 2 1 1
Whiplash (SR) 5 4 2
Stevie Wondertyres (SR) 1 5 3
Launch Bornado (FR) 6 6 4
Sheila Dinkum (RM) 8 7 5
Jaap Snellrijder (RM) 7 8 6
Captain Slow (SB) 3 3 7, dnf
The Stig (SB) 4 2 8, dnf

Bubba had a dominating race that would’ve been a complete walk in the park if it hadn’t been for The Stig racing nearly as well.  It’s Bubba’s first win and second podium.  After a 3rd place finish in Austin, Whiplash goes one better here.  Stevie gets his first podium, meaning that his is also Sprite Racing’s first double podium finish.

There’s really not much more that can be said for Captain Slow and the Stig.  They raced brilliantly until it all fell apart at the end, making it that much harder to deal with.  Jaap had his most forgettable race, never challenging for anything other than 2nd to last place.

At a team level, Force Ravenswood have their best result after recording their second consecutive victory.  Sprite Racing, as mentioned above, had their best result as well.

Race Gallery