Start Here

All #FSBletters translated as of August 14th, 2022 - Chronological Order - Look Inside

Before reading these #FSBletters from the #WindofChange, please watch/listen to the following audio for the origin & context of these le...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Annual Alfra Romeo Orque Advan Racing School at Fuji Speedway

This year Kasuya-san again invited me to instruct at the racing school he organizes every year at Fuji Speedway. Orque is a tuner for Italian cars, with primary focus on Alfa Romeos. Kasuya-san has been running the company for several years. Prior to that, he was a factory Toyota TOM'S and NISMO driver in various series including JGTC and Le Mans.

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

We started with basic classroom instruction and immediately followed by hands-on exercises - slalom and braking. Ability to consistently brake at the tires' limit is as basic as it gets and is of course the most important to be able to begin to drive a car at its quickest.

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

The students had a lot of sessions throughout the day to drive on the short course at Fuji Speedway, and Kasuya-san and I were available to jump into their own cars and have them experience the proper driving techniques and what they feel like directly from the passenger seat. We had many drivers who had zero prior track driving experience, but just like last year, every single student made huge leaps forward in his driving ability by the end of the day. The repetition of driving the student in their own car and then having the student drive it right after is so effective it's astounding. After each outing I would explain what I was doing and why, to specifically accommodate that car's characteristics.

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

One of the drivers who got his first-ever experience on a race track was in his fifties, but by the end of the day, I would have never guessed that. And of course the joy on everyone's face was just contagious.

It's never too late to start ;-)

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

Rd. 9 Super GT - Motegi Race

After a Saturday plagued with mechanical problems, we were hoping for a good Sunday.

In the morning warm-up session we confirmed that the clutch issue was resolved, but at the end, a rear brake caliper began to leak fluid and lose pressure.

The team did their best to fix the problem before the race.

I started the race but almost immediately the car began to lose pedal pressure and the rear was getting upset and squirmy under heave brakes.
I had to pit after a few laps. The team fixed the caliper issue in about 30 minutes and let Ito out near the end of the race to get some laps in and check the car.

All in all, a disappointing weekend after a mid-week test that gave everyone a lot of promise.

Once the team can get the mechanical issues sorted I think the car could show solid competition next year.

This officially ends my 2009 racing season.
I am already thinking about 2010 and am in touch with several top-level GT300 teams.
The battle for next season begins on the day following the season finale Sunday!

I am also beginning to learn more about opportunities in the United States. If you hear of anything interesting, do let me know!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Super GT Qualifying

Porsche Boxter - Super GT GT300

The Wed/Thurs test went great with the car - we tried out a combination of two different Yokohama compounds and got the car to a good balance with a competitive time.

Porsche Boxter - Super GT GT300

Friday was a roll-in day to the track as we changed pits and got ready for the weekend.

For Saturday, we had 1 hour 45 minute free practice session in the morning followed by combined qualifying at noon (both drivers pass the minimum time) and then knockdown Q1 (10 mins), Q2 (7 mins), and Q3 (7 mins) sessions.

For morning practice, the plan was to test out two softer compounds to see if they would last the race duration and to figure out the qualifying setup/tires.

Unfortunately, a clutch problem allowed me only 2 laps in the morning practice. Within the two laps I knew the direction in which to take the setup to work with the softer tires, and we proceeded with those changes.

Porsche Boxter - Super GT GT300

Then qualifying came, and at this point we knew that the clutch was still going to be a problem due to some circumstances. We just had to muscle through it. I posted a time in 1 lap and got my partner, Ito, in the car and he had struggle with a slipping clutch but did pass the standard time threshold.

There was enough time until Q1 to get the drivetrain cooled down again and go for the attack, and we knew that Q2 would not be possible as it was right after Q1 with not enough time to allow the car to cool.

The objective was simply to get to the top 16 out of 22 to pass Q1 and start the race in 16th.

But before Q1, the race officials came by to check the car's compliance for the air restrictor specified for this car in the rules. This was rather unusual timing for such a check, but we had to comply. The mechanics did their best to disassemble the air-box in time to get to the very deep-in-the-car air restrictor. It took them about 35 minutes to get it out. But at that point, we only had 15 minutes to the start of Q1 (10 minute long session). I barely got out of the garage with 2 minutes and 30 seconds to go, which meant I only had one lap for the attack.

I warmed up the tires as best as I could, but the Boxter being a mid-engine car, the fronts have always taken at least 2 laps to get up to operating temp during our tests.

With just one warm up lap, it was not enough, and as I went into the brake zone at turn one I had a strong front lock up that cost me time, and as the tires continued to gain temperature, the grip was getting better throughout the lap, but the lap time was just not enough to get us in the top 16 to continue into Q2. We needed at least 3 laps to post a competitive time.

Being forced to qualify on cold tires is rough!

Hopefully the clutch engagement problem will be solved by tomorrow morning's practice session so we can at least do a little bit of setup tweaking before the race.

The race should be 48 laps (GT500 is 53 laps), so it's pretty short, so the only good chance we have of finishing significantly higher than our start position will be a no-tire-change strategy.

I will start the race with a full tank and go the maximum allowed 2/3 distance (32) laps and pass the car on to Ito, minimizing our refuel time to our practiced 16 second driver-change time. With that, we will hopefully make up around 30 seconds on most other teams that do plan to change tires. Our tire compound will be harder than the rest, but if I can keep the avg race lap time to about 1 second below the top runners we still have a chance.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Getting ready for Super GT Motegi

#4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter

I will be competing in the GT300 #4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter in the season finale for Super GT at Motegi on November 7/8. I will be developing the car for use with Yokohama tires as this car has been competing with Kumho for the last few years. It was raced just once this year at Suzuka as a shakedown and I was not there, but we have high hopes for its performance at Motegi.

Within the rules, the Porsche Boxter is a lower downforce / higher top-speed package, which should be advantageous for a track like Motegi - with many long straights and lots of stop-and-go corners.

The primary purpose of our testing on Wed/Thurs will be to tune the suspension to match the new Yokohama tires and maximize braking efficiency despite its short wheelbase. I have a few ideas so far.

I recently went to the Lian factory to get fitted in the seat and get a little familiar with the car.
#4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter
#4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter
Igor Sushko with #4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter

Check out the entry list for 2009 Motegi Super GT race.

If you happen to attend the race please do stop by!