I am finally picking up momentum. Following the 3rd place podium finish in the Super Taikyu Series 2 weeks ago, this last weekend's race at Suzuka also went quite well. Heavy rain was an excellent opportunity for me in qualifying and race on Saturday. I qualified 15th and 12th for the 2 rounds and finished 12th (15th start) for the Rd.3 race. The rain was so heavy that it was serious near zero visibility when following other cars. I unfortunately put myself in a position of being stuck behind 2 slower cars for almost the entire race, and the rooster tails from 2 cars combined in front of me really gave me no choice but to follow and hope for an error from either of them to safely pass. In the final lap, I managed to pass one of the cars and the race ended. I have never raced in conditions these bad before, and it was an awesome experience. It's difficult to imagine that one can actually drive at over 200km/h without being able to see 20ft ahead and actually hit his brake points and turn-in in the blind. I really did feel a sort of sixth sense taking over to feel the traction and guess at the current location on the track and timing the steering inputs correctly.
Sunday's Rd.4 saw the track begin to dry right before the race. My start was 12th - best so far in my year of racing in FCJ. I was on the inside grid, which was still wet, putting me at a disadvantage for the standing start. I pulled it off quite well though, passing 2 cars into turn 1, but then didn't close the door fast enough between turns 1 and 2, and got effectively re-passed. The race was 17 laps, which, at Suzuka, is 35+ minutes. All of my lap times ranged from 2:05.518 to 2:06.456, even while defending my position for the last 5 laps.
My pulse for the entire race demonstrated a near-perfect level of concentration, and especially a very mentally strong finish. It was crucial to ensure zero misses, so I drove the entire race at a very low risk level, especially by avoiding the rumble strips on the exits and clips as they were still drying in some places.
I finished 10th, the last points-paying position, to finally put me up on the scoreboard in FCJ.
My pulse rate tracked over the period of the race (blue underline segment):
View the Suzuka FCJ Rd.3/Rd.4 Photo Gallery
This weekend I am back to Super Taikyu and will be racing at Sendai Hiland in the #15 Okabe Jidosha Dixcel Nissan Z. Following the Sunday race, I go straight to Motegi on Monday for Tuesday/Wednesday tests and the rounds 5 and 6 for FCJ over the following weekend.