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Sunday, May 24, 2009

2009 FCJ Round 3/4 - Suzuka Circuit

May 13-17, 2009

We got in to Suzuka on Tuesday and had a ton of track time between Wednesday and Friday, getting in over 10 hours in 3 days.

This track is so exhilarating to drive!
Especially on old tires. With the budget cuts in the series, we are getting less tires this year. For the first two days (7 hours) we get to use 2 old sets from the previous Fri/Race and one new set. So Wednesday was exclusively used tires, and then we got to run the new tires for Thursday.

130R, the 6th gear, full throttle, left-turn has been exactly that in the past - full throttle at 150mph. But on these tires that came from the Fuji race, where the tire wear is radically different, it was not to be! I must have run wide while going full throttle 10 times, every time my heart skipping a beat. Accordingly, the times were not that great during these sessions either.

I got things back together with the new set that came on Thursday and was somewhere mid-pack.

Then on Friday, we got another new set and got 3rd place overall for the day (4 hours). This is so far my best position in a practice, which was great, and now all I had to do was recreate my performance in qualifying the following day.

Igor Sushko at Suzuka

I woke up to a pleasant rain on Saturday - I love rain. It was not too strong, but definitely meant the track would be wet.

Igor Sushko at Suzuka

Then Q1 came. Some drivers actually decided to go on the wets, but most stuck with the slicks. I went out on slicks and as I was getting as much heat in them as possible, I also wanted to get good position on the track. There was one car directly in front of me but a good gap beyond. As I was climbing the Dunlop turn after the Esses, my rear just went out and I spun out on to the sand. With the help of the corner workers, I got back on the track, but lost about 4 minutes out of the 15 minute qualifying session. Every flying lap, my times were going up like crazy as the tires got heat into them - 5 seconds, 5 seconds, 4 seconds faster than the previous lap as each lap passes by. But then I ran out of time - most got their best time on the 7th and final lap. Due to my spin, I only had 5 laps, and the result was a 14th place grid.

Igor Sushko at Suzuka

The Rd. 3 race was in the wet and as is usual with our series, especially at Suzuka, there were barely any position changes, and I finished in 13th.

The Sunday Rd. 4 race was feeling good though - the track was drying up quick but not completely dry just yet. At the start, I had an awesome run to turn 1 and into turn 2, passing around 4-5 cars already. But then the #13 car in front of me hit the rear of the #15 car while locking the front brakes, which caused #15 to spin. As it was spinning in front of me from inside to the outside (in what is essentially a long right-hand turn), I went low and successfully avoided #15. As soon as I passed this car though, the #13 car was going around on the outside and started spinning behind the #15, but from the outside to the inside, collecting me in the side of the nose. It was a racecar guillotine! So, my race unfortunately ended after the first 2 turns and I parked the car in a save place on the grass.

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