Friday, December 10, 2010

Video showing Alex's first ever race

Our new French driver Alex joined the team recently and with no prior race experience hopped behind the wheel of our BB6 and did a great job. He cut this video of himself. His driving is quite smooth and quick. He was easy on the car and did a great job. Nice job on the video too Alex.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

28th November - Ebisu 6 hour Endurance Race. Thomas O'Dowd (4 of 4).

Looking at the weather in Nihonmatsu the night before, I saw that it would more than likely rain during my stint. I don't mind rain too much as long as I have some thread and was looking forward to a new experience. Rain might give us a good fighting chance against some of the rwd race cars also.

When we turned up at the circuit it was pretty cold and unbelievably it soon started to drizzle. It wasn't really enough to make any standing water on the circuit so no major worries. Qualification was 15 minutes earlier than I was expecting. Opps. Anyway, getting ready as fast as I could, I listened to some of the other cars do a lap or two and the rain started to get harder too. So much for them drying the line for me. Damn.

I was quite apprehensive heading out as we'd 4 new tires on which had never seen a surface before. I was wondering how long they would take to start gripping in the wet. As such when I headed out, I was took my time and weaved and speed up gradually. Loads of time. Qualification is 30 minutes after all. Normally, I'd have come in after a few laps but I wanted to make sure that Mike had good tires to start the race with too with good air pressure so I stayed out. Times started coming down as I gained confidence in the grip. I took zero chances as we'd a full 6 hours and 4 drivers to go so I decided to come in when I'd got a 1'13.3. There was definitely more time there, but I figured that was fairly decent. Little did I realize but it put us 5th on the grid! Sweet!

The race itself should have been relatively straight forward from here. We were nearly 3 seconds faster than the next car in our class (in the wet at least) and 5th would be an interesting race start for Mike :-) I won't talk about Mike's run (as he has done so already) but midway in his session the officials were telling us to bring him in as the flap was hanging off dangerously on his front left wing. Took Mike a few laps to see the P sign but he finally came in much to our delight.

I'd already got tape and a cutter ready so the first thing we tried to do was repair by tape. This wasn't working though as the underbody was wet and I'd decided that it might come undone again. Better to take it off. We tried cutting the underflap next though but it was too tough to get through. Mike kept telling us to yank it off but I felt that it might do more harm than good to just yank as its pretty strong plastic and the last thing I wanted to do was yank and have the fender come off with it. I got a + out of the box and undid a screw which released one edge and from there we were able to pull clips and cut cable ties. It was off! It was the longest bloody pit stop and one of the hardest as we knew we were pissing away time. Anyway, once the official was happy, Mike tore off down the pit road in fury and we were all wondering if he'd end up in some ditch driving like a maniac to claw back any lap time. I think we were 3 laps down when Mike finished. Opps.

Sumi was up next and drove a steller pace throughout his session. We were 4 down as he went out and the course was drying out. After his session, there was 2 laps in it again. We still had a fighting chance. Alex was out next. Mike and I were wondering how our race would be looking when his 90 minutes were up. When he entered the course car 51 was just behind him and he somehow he stayed there for more than a few laps. This was looking good! Then car 51 got passed but didn't really pull too much of a gap. We were 4 laps down again. I started timing laps and Alex was doing pretty much consistent 1'13.5s. Fantastic. Suddenly he started to real back in car 51 and a few laps later he was passed. Wow! 2 laps down! We had a proper race on our hands again. Alex was performing wonderfully. Due to the other team pitting and us pitting, when I got out on the track, we were 2 laps down.

I got in the car as quick as I could and got the straps on, reset the TraqMate and started watching cars as they went past the first corner. The boys were starting on the 3rd fuel can when I saw 51 go around again. It took a while more to let me go but my target was pinned in my memory. Car 51. White. Big wing. Mine!

I went out and started to nail some laps together while checking the car. Brakes were horrid with the peddle almost going to the floor in a wishy-washy way that didn't inspire confidence. I knew it was just air though and I just believed in the nice thick new pads we'd put on the car and kept the speed up. It meant I had to brake early though. I had such a blast as I worked my way by so many cars without remorse. Finally I caught car 51 and noticed that he was quite fast everywhere except the downhill chicane and the downhill corner. I got by easily and Mike was showing me funny signs like -3 laps etc which I thought to egg me on as I couldn't be 3 laps behind them. Finally he showed me the -1 I'd been expecting and I just worked on lapping fast.

After passing so many cars, I finally came upon a fast B class civic that didn't want to let me passed to easily. He didn't block or anything but held his corners and had much the same speed as me up and down the hills. I'd another car behind that was trying to pass me also and for a few laps, I drove as cleverly as I could to keep the other guy behind while trying to take the guy in front. This was proving to be really enjoyable. I was really loving our 3 way battle. We got caught in traffic at the inner hairpin and I had to hit the brakes un-expectedly to avoid the black civic who'd done pulled right when I didn't expect him too. The little white TMC car got passed on the inside. That guy is good on the brakes. I was hoping he'd open the door for me on the civic but he was having the same trouble I was. Another momentum car.

I decided to try and pass him again rather than wait and I got him on the uphill first corner after he'd hit the brakes to avoid the civic making a mistake on the last corner. He was right on my ass again. What a race! I decided the only way to pass the civic was also the up hill corner. I'd got close a few times but he wasn't giving it to me easily. I left a bit of space before the last corner and got a really nice 3rd gear last corner on the gas up the hill. I got it just right and was on his bumper the whole way up the hill. I moved for the inside as the power kicked in cresting the hill and got him under braking as I ran out of revs. Awesome. The white TMC car came too. I wasn't going to let him passed though and concentrated on making a gap and finding that 51 car to take the lead.

Passing the 51 car to take the lead actually turned into a bit of a non-event.
I was on his ass from the bottom of the hill and he indicated left. Then I
guess he saw it was me and stopped indicating. He was coming up fast on
another car on the left though and he indicated again to keep left and I just
flew by... No fight and no drama, but we were in the lead. It would later turn
out that they needed a tire change badly and were just trying to hold off to
see if they could retain the lead. I didn't know this though.

Towards the end of the race, I was hoping pit wall would give me some lap info as I was running low on gas and was trying to figure out if I had pit time or I should tune down my right foot and start changing up more. I decided on the latter. I got fuel starvation with about 5 laps to go but decided that it was just under high G's so we might be ok. I figured the yellow light handn't been on long enough to use up 9 or so litres of fuel that might remain in the tank when it would come on. I kept out there as it seemed I might loose less time than a fuel stop the the pits were not ready for. I didn't get any more signs of fuel starvation after that one and when I saw the checkered flag. I was very relieved and very happy! We'd done it again. We'd gone and won the bloody race!

Well done to everyone who helped us work on the car! Thanks for all your time and effort. We couldn't have raced with out you. Thanks to all the team who worked hard in the pits and drove hard on the circuit. You can't win the race alone. You need a great team! Team Gaijin Racing.

Miguel keeps adding that photos and video are coming but I haven't had any
time to work on them yet. They are coming though...

28th November - Ebisu 6 hour Endurance Race. Alexandre Plattard (3 of 4).


First of all thanks to the team for inviting me and trusting me.

I jumped in the car, attached myself with the help of Sumi-san and go. I had in mind that I had to be careful with the tires and to bring the car back.
As I was driving around, learning the track, getting used to the gearbox and the steering wheel on the wrong side, I tried to go faster little by little.
I managed to reach lap time around 1.15 which was a bit disappointing. I didn't feel very comfortable with the car and had difficulty to get used to drive a FF again.
At night, after reviewing videos and comparing my lines with others I had some better idea of what I should do if I wanted to improve my lap time.

The pressure went up as we lost some time trying to fix the car. We were
very close to the team 51. Sumi-san jumped out and I had no difficulty
getting in as he moved the seat back. He then helped me to find the belts,
Mike and Tom refueld, added a bit of oil and shouted "Go!Go!Go".
Weirdly I don't remember much of the race, it felt like it lasted 2 minutes
only. During the race I felt much more confident than the previous day. I
could understand the car's behavior better. As I was driving, I saw a white
car behind me. I remembered that during practice there was very fast Silvia
so I thought it was him and decided I would let him go. As he takes over I
see the number on the side : "51". Ooops! Lesson 1 : Don't let anyone go if
there is no blue flag. Anyway I thought it was a good opportunity to improve
my lines by folowing him. Gradually I managed to get close to him again and
in the straight I was a bit faster and took over in the first corner. It
felt good!

At some point a grey car, driven by students decided he would take over
under yellow flag. It got me really upset so I thought I would not finish
the session without taking the position back. So again, in the straight I
was faster than him and managed to take over in the first corner. For some
reason he tried to block me, even though we are not racing in the same

A black car had a problem at the end of the straight after the chicane and
ended up crashing badly. The driver was not coming out and the ambulance had
to take him out. I hope he's OK. It reminded me that shit can happen. The
black car with the manga paintings also span for some reason. It was after
the kink, everything looked fine and he decided to spin right in front on

This fight with these two cars was really exciting and a lot of fun. After
that I was a bit lonely on the track. At some point I thought they stopped
the race and I was the only one who didn't see it! Just taking over the
black car with Manga drawing and another very slow blue car. Of course the
Silvia and MR-2 were taking over every 2 laps.

Before starting Mike told me I should target a lap time of 1.13. In the end
I was happy with my lap times as I went down to around 1.12. Mission
accomplished. I need to improve my gear shifting as I too often wasted time
by missing gears and I think I can be more agressive. I heard so much a

So it was a great week-end and I hope I can join again. The team is really
friendly and I am sure that it helped me a lot to release some pressure
before racing.


P.S : I keep my beautiful french accent on purpose because girls like ;-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

28th November Ebisu 6 hours endurance race - Hideo Sumi (2 of 4)

28th November Ebisu 6 hours endurance race

We projected racing driver ,Tom ,Mike ,Alex.P and Sumi.
total entrant were 24. running car were 22.

Car inspection.
We were indicated about seat belt fixed angle.
We must modify for next race.

Qualifying heat.
in rain session, Tom ran very fast and gave us 5th position.
It was 1st position in N class.
Hey Tom nice driving !! wow!!

Race heat.
1st driver, Mike
2nd driver, Sumi
3rd driver, Alex.P
4th driver, Tom

9:45 ,race session opened , Mike dash , dash , dash.
He ran very smooth in rain. after a short time ,We were given orange ball flag from official.
It was machine trouble. Left hand front inner trim separated body.
It was very danger , We called him and repaired in pit.
Maybe We lost a few minute.
When his session finished 2nd position in N class.
minus 4 laps.

after open 90 minute , driver change , He got out , I rode on BB6 with a lot of fuel.

first I ran slow pace , because I think scary running in rain.
and S line , turn left , I slid rear tire , It was very scary.

because before long clear up , I ran very push.
I passed a lot of rival team car. I funned very very ...

but I had fatal mistake.

last 20 minute I lost fuel. I must got refueling.
I send to pit crew by klaxon.
When I checked crew's sign , I have touch and go.

I ran 90 minute and released to 3rd driver Alex.P.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Number 1.

28th November - Ebisu 6 Hour Taikyu Race - Mike Gadd (1st of 4).


I was looking forward to starting a race – never having done so. I wanted to experience the atmosphere of it all which I figured would be very different form the end or middle of the race where I have so far only driven.

With the discussions we had at the team meeting and the new methods I tried I had managed to get 1:11:0 during practice and felt that a low
1:10: was certainly doable - i was eager to find out exactly how low- but damn the rain started!!

Despite the rain it couldn’t have worked out better for my first race start as Tom did an amazing job in qualifying not only putting us at the top of our class but in the top 5 overall. I was to experience the race start for the 1st time in the front of the grid at the no,5 spot surrounded by the Rire cars and their ilk.

Alas in the rain and cold the race queens were few and far between and despite our prominent position never came close to our car for the prerequisite pictures.
Race started slowly with the B class cars around me going ape shit swerving violently back and forth in the rain trying to get some heat in their tyres and almost hitting each other at times in the process....

As the race got underway and settled down we soon spread out. With no cars in our class infront of me I was happily lapping some surprisingly slow B class cars while I kept an eye out in my mirror for our class cars.
The rain had been coming down for over an hour and the track was slippery in places. I was frustrated at not being able to get decent lap times but as I was lapping B class cars and hadn’t seen any car in our class behind me I knew I was at least maintaining our position hopefully gaining a lead.

The rain slowed and almost stopped for a while then it would start up –. This actually created more danger as cars (myself included) would begin to pick up speed and change line demand more grip and then occasionally when the rain picked up again the grip would go and you’d have to rapidly readjust. The rapid changing conditions caught many off guard and quite a
few span. I was comfortable and stable basically keeping a conservative
dry line but reducing the speed as the rain wasn’t pooling. I was certainly getting zero under steer and was probably lapping at about 1:14?. which appeared to be competative in these conditions even amongst most of the B class cars. In practice the day before I had tried out some techniques we had discussed at the team meeting and boy what a difference. The chicane now is far easier for me. I also changed the way I took the last corner with a lot of success taking it as a constant radius corner no braking going in and full throttle from apex going wide and high. (basically appreciating we have more turning grip after apex than before) I was settled in and things were stable. The rain had probably picked up and I was passing the kink. What I had been doing so far was to clip the kink in 4th lift, then back on the throttle at const speed, no braking,
wide, and enter take the corner on a constant radius. As I begin the
turn in and at last min drop into 2nd and as soon as I apex its smoothly
transitioning 70% throttle for a short time then 100% as I go wide up the hill. Bit of oversteer half way up that needs to be adjusted for.

Then disaster struck.... For some reason I suddenly had less grip after
the kink. I don’t know if the rain had picked up more or there was oil on the track (I suspect the latter) as I was doing the same thing I had been doing all along – but something had changed. As I passed the kink const throttle const rad I was fine for a bit then as the line turned more in the back swang out violently. Possibly I wasn’t on enough
throttle and the back was light or rain or oil - but either way I couldn
’t catch it and recover I span off the track sideways and ploughed along sideways in the dirt. To be honest it reminded me a lot of my landrover days. As I’m sat there my immediate thought was to see if I was stuck to get straight back out there. I didn’t want to spin the tires to I gingerly tried to pull forward - they span! Bugger. At that moment I saw the no2 place car pass me – bugger! Thinking back of the landrover times again I put her in reverse and forward and rocked her gently before finally getting out of the rut/soft soil and managed to get my front tyres on the track! Yes. Waited for a gap and got back out there dumping a considerable amount of mud on the track.

The offing had cost me about 10-20 seconds which I was determined to make
up but decided to take the last corner entry slower. Surprisingly
quickly I caught up with the no2 car and passed him. He was still behind me as I reached the kink then despite slowing down (and thinking about it know – because of) as gracefully as I could I span off in exactly the same place doing exactly the same thing! This time I stayed on the track and recovered so fast I actually caught up with him almost right away. I remember thinking this guy must be thinking I am if nothing else unrelenting as I regained all the lost time without missing a heartbeat. I realize now that I span the 2nd time precisely because I wasn’t on enough throttle (for that line) to keep the back down right when I needed rear grip. Lesson learnt – less throttle can be less safe if its at the wrong time. Im also thinking for this reason perhaps we need a rear wing......

Everything back on track I settled down retaining our lead but I dialed it right back further on the last corner. Given that I had been taking that corner as fast as the slick clad rire cars i figured i could afford to dial it right back. I saw 4 cars spin off there during my session – I suspect there was oil mixed with the rain and made sure to pass this info to the next driver. I could see I was the faster car in our class overall and we were in front so I was content.

....... Then the real disaster struck I saw tom with the ‘pit in’
sign. Apparently one of our wheel arch liners had come undone and was
hanging down. The marshals wanted it fixed. I had just had the battle
of my life to keep our place so I was far from happy to be pissing away time in the pits especially as nobody was telling me what was going on. I ’m sure tom and sumi were working as fast as they could but from drivers perspective in the middle of a race the removal of the liner was infuriatingly slow. I swore rather a lot as I sat there seeing the no2 car lap us again and again and again! That’s one video that I don’t want to see lol!

Back on the track with 15mins to go and we are 2 laps behind in 2nd place! Damn.
The good news was the rain had stopped and the track was drying so we were hoping sumi alex and tom could regain those lost laps!
They did. Alex in particular did amazingly well, His driving is smooth and fast. After a couple laps lost to driver change and refuel It came down to tom to regain our lost laps. By the time he went out after change and refuel we were 4 laps down and it was very exciting. Tom was 2 secs a lap faster and they also had a driver change and refuel to do so we were on the edge of our seats. We didn’t know how fast their new driver would be.

Then they made a huge mistake! They came in for a driver change, they refueled, they checked the oil – and then with only an hour to go they changed tyres!! With a smile on my face I watched tom passing the pit lane again and again as they faffed about. That error and toms faster driving during his session took us up to a +4 lap lead and 1st place!!

It was a great race and a lot of fun. Despite his outrageous accent Alex is an asset that I hope we will be seeing a lot more of in the future.
The new pedal position and cover make heel and toeing a breaze. The new
extensions i put on the harness wasite straps makes them a lot easier to use. The car needs a wash, and tom needs to burn that video of me :) well done team gaijin!!!! what a season!

Another win for TGR!

We'll have more news after a rest back in Tokyo. We had a pretty big battle today and lots of drama and the odd bit of swearing but we managed to grab back first place in our final session. Finished 7th overall which was another good showing. Well done team!!!