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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

FCJ Rounds 3 and 4 at Suzuka

Igor Sushko on the grid at Suzuka - FCJ May 11th, 2008.
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.
Igor Sushko at Suzuka - #24 H.I.S. Travel FCJ, May 11th, 2008.

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.
Igor Sushko at Suzuka - #24 H.I.S. Travel FCJ, May 11th, 2008.
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):
Igor Sushko at Suzuka - #24 H.I.S. Travel FCJ, May 11th, 2008.

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.