Sunday, August 30, 2009

TG-R Prelude Graphics

I never did get around to slicing the bonnet graphic. Still need the door number backing too.
How do you guys feel about this design. A little different to the last one.

BTW. BTCC rims and ride height are just for fun.


Friday, August 28, 2009

TGR - The Behind the Scenes Movie!!

Thanks to team member James and his mini HD video camera - this man has obvious talent, and not just behind the wheel!

This was recorded the day before the race - we got to all practice driving the car, but while the car was shod with street pads and used tires. Hence the comments.

Looking forward to Part 2 (race day)!!! Stay tuned! Thanks again James!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Newera's Introduction

It's been a busy year for Newera, but now as a (part) owner of an interesting Honda - Thought I'd share the story of what some of us here in Japan have been involved with the last few months which you might enjoy, So I'll spill the beans start from the beginning...

In August 2008, 7 drivers & myself rented a full N2 prepared racing Civic EG6 complete with mechanical support and went 12 hour endurance racing.

One of our drivers was Tomohiko Sunako, a well known Nissan & Japanese GT500 works driver who has recently retired. He also put on a race tuition day for a bunch of us last year - a fantastic learning experience in car control!

So the 12 hour Taikyu race at Ebisu circuit in Aug 2008 was to be his last race - just for fun.

With Sunako at the wheel, our little EG6 set 2nd from Pole and we got off to a great start! Unfortunately about 4 hours into the race we suffered oil starvation which sadly killed the main bearings before low oil level could be discovered. Our choice was to bite the bullet and fit a spare engine we had waiting, or quit. We chose the former even though it meant there was no way we'd get anywhere other than close to being one of the last placed cars. We wanted to be sure to finish!

Our 2 race mechanics did a fantastic job and changed the engine, including removing and refitting clutch, flywheel, gearbox in just 2 hours and 15 minutes. Race was stopped for 2 hours AFTER we'd they'd just finished fitting the engine - due to heavy fog, then there was heavy rain till the end of the race. Not a good mix for S tyres, a car with no heater or demisting and poor quality standard headlights. Still, we avoided crashing the car as many other teams did and finished the race!

Other drivers will have their own experiences of course - I most vividly remember doing my last stint in heavy rain at night with poor visibility, whilst other cars around me were driving desperately quickly to try to earn top positions. Predictably some of them came off the track going into corners way too fast and aquaplaning into oblivion, sometimes passing me on the entry to a corner, then going off & crashing right before me... I remember being on a fast kink and having another car spin several times right in front of me. My choice was to hit the brakes hard & risk aquaplaning or go around him... I chose the later and vividly remember seeing his car still spinning as I passed just a few feet away. I found myself aquaplaning at the end of the long straight, but fortunately took only a minor excursion onto the grass before steering back onto the track unscathed. Mayhem!! Fun & scary moments !

We finished intact:

Ebisu 12 hour Endurance Race event - N2 Spec Civic EG6. VIDEO & FULL PICTURES

Being the first proper endurance race some of us had done, it was huge fun despite our mechanical failure, terrible weather, etc. We learnt a lot about efficiency in refueling, driver changing, team work, car preparation, what was required to race for 12 hours continuously, etc.

The huge learning experience, sheer excitement of racing and seeing the spirit of our's & other neighbouring teams (Some of the cars were crashed hard not once, but several times, but repaired and put back on the track - before being driven home!). Even bent chassis were straightened in the pits using big hammers, etc. Amazing to see...

All of this planted a seed! - We just HAD to do this again, but this time we'd compete not in the race car class, but the street registered car class, to make it easier to bring the car to the track, etc. and we'd buy and prepare our own car between a team to keep costs of preparation down.

So 3 of us who'd competed in Aug 2008 Aki, Tom and myself set about finding 2 other people who would want to buy a car together to race. Wasn't hard! Simon - a tuned NS-X owner and Sumi, a tuned S15 owner - and suspension engineer by trade (Both good drivers with lots of high speed track experience) made formidable fellow owners and willingly signed up to share equally in some financial damage. Team Gaijin Racing was born (For those of you who don't know - Gaijin means 'foreigner' in Japanese).

Fortunately Newera Imports had a good car in stock, which was affordable but most importantly a car we felt would be reliable, not too thirsty (Even this car could easily use 500 litres of fuel when driven hard for 12 hours!) and equipped with some decent equipment to start with.

So between us we took this pristine and rare 235 bhp Prelude Spec S out of Newera Import's stock list and between 5 enthusiasts we each invested an equal share to buy it, get 2 year's shaken and register in Japan (Apologies to the customer in UK who'd just decided he wanted to buy it at the time!).

Even though the car was equally owned by the 5 of us - As I had the required parking space available at home, I was elected to be the registered owner. Being based in Fuji and this being a Prelude BB6 I thought we might as well reserve a private plate, so we got "Fuji . . . 6" when I did the Shaken test - to be able to register it.

Here's the car as it started out - and it's spec:

We wanted an N/A car for reliability (less heat) and lower fuel consumption and a Honda would be reliable too. We did consider everything else, but most cars we'd have liked were too expensive (S2000 would have been a first choice, being RWD too!).

A Prelude isn't always a natural choice as a race car, especially as few parts are available to modify it in Japan, compared to say a DC2 or DC5 Type R. Unfortunately neither of those two models was within our limited budget at the time - and besides, we like a challenge and wanted to be different!

Newera Parts had a roll cage specially built in the States and shipped to Japan, as it wasn't available for this model here - we sourced a rad from Fluidyne in the States too & specified our own extra thick 25 row Setrab oil cooler kit and robbed our store of a decent used race seat, Takata race harness, steering wheel, Defi gauges, etc, etc. We replaced the brake discs, fitted braided lines and racing fluid, researched what would be the longest lasting endurance race pads (Endless M84N compound chosen... they were less than half worn at the end of the race!!) and much more...

Naturally, Newera Parts supplied everything at trade cost and threw in whatever was available in stock for free.

I couldn't participate in this event, as I already had a summer holiday trip planned & booked with my wife and daughter before the car was bought (Couldn't really have our holiday dates moved, so I just helped prepare the car !) - but looking forward to competing with TGR in the next 6 hour event at Ebisu circuit on 24th Oct...

So with 4 owners left driving this event - We found another 4 willing drivers to join us (Russ, Alex, Rod & James) to share 90 minutes behind the wheel each (In 2 stints) and help contribute to the costs of racing and preparation and they each added whatever else they could too. We didn't want to risk driver fatigue, or accidents due to loss of concentration - the goal was to finish the race primarily, this being our first - hence the shorter stints.

Russ is very good at making models and stuff like that which requires perfectionism & dexterity so he volunteered to make decals. Thomas could get a Traqmate for us on sponsorship and is a dab hand at making videos. As a racer himself could give instruction & driving tuition for those who hadn't raced before. Pre race meetings were held, videos shown and various more evenings were spent in preparation. Simon's place will be where the post race celebration party will take place

As the race loomed, the car was completed just on time, with many late evenings spent at the workshop.

The car's engine had to remain completely standard right down to the air filter, but wheels, suspension, cooling, exhaust, interior, cooling bonnet & some other modifications were allowed for the street registered class.

Our main goal as a team was to introduce real racing to others who haven't raced before and get more people into this.. Although most of the team had prior track experience only two of the owners present had raced before.

Fortunately this first event went without a hitch and considering this was a low budget team - the car performed really well for the whole 12 hours!

The brake discs were cracking by the end and feeling a bit spongy (Proper brake cooling ducts feeding cold air to a fabricated box around the discs are going to be added for the next race).

Our Prelude finished 4th in class, with a total of 25 cars racing. We didn't get a trophy but were awarded a small prize for being the best run team on the day. Most importantly, everyone participating with us in TGR loved it - and each driver's now also hooked on racing and the buzz of events like this!

Success! So it looks as if TGR will continue to progress - and introduce more people to racing in Japan. Our Prelude's also available for rental, for track use.

Check the full story on our blog via the menu.

With the use of the Traqmate, we've got some great video footage being prepared by Tom, but for now here's one video clip just made one of the drivers of the preparation. Note this is the day before the race on street pads. They only fitted the race pads just at the end of practice, so keep them fresh for the 12 hours ahead.

Check the Video of preparing the car & practice at Ebusu circuit

In car video of Rod qualifying:

Lots more video footage and stuff to come! - So stay tuned!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back in the shop... for some maintenance

So back again today to the shop. Alex, Sumi-san and myself.

First we lifted the car up to do an oil change. And took the opportunity to check things out underneath.

Nothing seemed amiss, just found some melted tire rubber and grass on the underside. After the oil change, we took off the wheels (to replace with the Yokohama DNA rubber, so we could save the Dunlops strictly for race use) and then decided to look at the front discs and brakes.

What we discovered was, the design does NOT allow for any air to be sucked into the disc rotor, at least not from the front side - there is a small lip on the rear, but clearly this is not enough during the race.

This is what lead to overheating fluid, brake fade - and maybe warped rotors. At the very least, afterwards the brakes felt spongy and there was brake shudder. We decided maybe a cut out would work - but when we fitted the rotor on, the cut away area was not enough - it still did not allow air passage to the center of the rotor.

So, Sumi-san had a good idea - let's try drilling holes! Here he is in action:

Why were we concerned - take a look at these brake pads. Yes, they are the Endless endurance pads, but the material had turned yellow in some places, and was crumbling!

This can't be good, can it? So the plan is, once Miguel can get ahold of some air scoops, to install cooling hoses to the fronts. Maybe we will remove the metal plate altogether, in which case we will need to apply heat protection to the softer joints and rubber. May not pass shaken though? Meanwhile, as our spare pads were really thin, we decided to go ahead and reuse these pads for the time being (but this is an item we may need to reorder before the next race). We also replaced the brake fluid - Sumi-san reported a LOT of air in the fluid. And replaced the worn rotors with new ones (heat treated).

Then, right before we were done, we diecdied to check out the member bolts again to make sure they were secure. I was able to tighten a couple by hand, so obviously, they had worked themselves loose. So, out came the pneumatic socket wrench - and some Loctite!

Sure hope this works...having such loose bolts can't be safe...

So the car now drives very, very smoothly, the brakes feel great. We need to organize the items relating to the car a bit better - we found some plastic containers being sold on base for about $3, so these may work well.

In anycase, the car is ready for its next outing... who's next?

Thanks to Sumi-san and Alex for spending their day doing this.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What a Great Weekend!

Well I never imagined that I would ever take part in a Motor Race, so last weekend was very special for me, made all the more memorable and enjoyable by such a great bunch of teammates and new friends and some pretty good teamwork! 
The drive was a lot more enjoyable and a less tiring than I imagined [helped by power steering!] - but really the car is beautiful to drive, so forgiving and infinitley adjustable through the corners, I still need to find a quicker way through the hairpins - so I am looking forward to Tom supplying some data and video to help. I think it is an easy car to drive quickly but needs more technical focus to go very quick.
I'm still smiling and can't stop thinking of my stint immediatly after the safety car, as I could see the crashed car being removed from the undergrowth I started to warm up the brakes and Dunlops to see if I could gain some places when the safety car went in and I managed to pull off some nice overtakes as a result.
The more laps I completed the more I ammended my thinking and line around the corners, personally it will be interesting for me to compare the 'in car' footage of the begining of my first session to the end of my last :-)  Other factors may play a part such as;
a) The slightly lower gearing on the Dunlops
b) The Dunlops had more grip
c) A full tank of fuel [2nd session] kept the tail more 'planted'
Anyway we must have enough material, data and experience to make the next visit to Ebisu even more fun
Thanks Guys, looking forward to doing it all again !!!

Qualifying Video

Rod did a superb job qualifying us with a lap time of 1'14.5. Here are his last two laps of qualification where he got his fastest time. Well done Rod!

Btw, playing with TraqMate and combining the best sectors of these two laps, Rod could have actually got us a time of 1'14.2. Way to go Rod!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nicely Done Everyone!

I don't have any pictures to share, unfortunately. (I was too busy stressing out about the little details and getting myself ready to drive!) [update - the photos above were sent in by our new friend Takano-san who was one stall over in that Civic... and he's a Prelude owner btw]

I think Russ and the others have done a great job documenting the race itself - both in pictures and video. I am really looking forward to the video that James shot, and any other pictures I have yet to see. And of course, the analysis from the Traqmate should be quite interesting and educational!

However I did want to publicly thank not only my teammates but also some friends who supported us or came by to cheer us on, not only on the day of the race, but also during the time we spent getting the car ready for the race itself. I think I can speak on behalf of the team - and at the risk of leaving some people out, special thanks should go to Nao (for allowing us the use of the garage), James (for his help in getting the car ready), Gill (for her support during the race) and Steve (for spotting that potentially lethal problem during the race)! Also, of course, Richard T of Traqmate Japan! Thanks, we could not have done it without you!

In addition, a few words about the race itself - interesting to see how a true race team was "born" by the experience - by the latter half of the race everything we did, from changing tires to driver changes to checking the oil in the car, became a well synchronized ballet - magic! As others have said, it truly was an honor to be a member of this particular team!

For the record, here is how the Prelude fared:
1) During the race, we added 4.5 liters of oil.

2) We discovered that while the brake pads were superb, the fluid (even though it was DOT 5.1) deteriorated, and the rotors have heat cracks in them. As a result, the car is not braking well at the moment. A future mod will have to be adding brake duct cooling.

3) Reverse gear is now not engaging - I've checked the forums and this appears to be an issue on the Prelude, particularly if there have been upshifts from second to third that miss third gear. A fix is either opening up the transmission to fix the offending fork, or to do some "interesting" driving as described on the forums. [update - Alex emailed me and said he had no problem getting the car into reverse. Go figure.]

4) For Ebisu Higashi anyway, the gap between second and third gear is huge. First, second are fine as they are, but third should be closer. Unfortunately the lack of Prelude tuning parts means we may have to get creative to fix this.

That's it, really! Fantastic car overall! Other desirable future modifications (as we discussed in exhaustion the day after) might be an LSD, shorter gearing, different tires, stiffer springs...but not much else!

I'm looking forward to Saturday October 24, when we will once again find ourselves at Ebisu, this time for their 6 hour endurance race. Meanwhile, I hope we can get the Prelude fixed up and ready for a few practice sessions!

Cheers guys, what a fantastic weekend!!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ebisu 12hr Race Review - Final Stats

Ebisu Super Endurance Race Series
12hr event
August 14/15th.

Team Gaijin Racing
Car: Honda Prelude BB6 S-type
Number: 115
Class: N-Class
Place: 4th
Time: 12:00'35"838
Laps: 451
Best Lap: 1:14'550 (lap 401)

only 93laps behind the winning Bclass Turbo SW20 MR2.

The work now begins to get ready for the next 6hr event in Ebisu on October 24th.

Ebisu 12hr Race Review Part 5 - Race

We started... Go-Sumi-san!! Go TGRacing!
I checked the board for my jobs, then I put down my camera. We all had 2 sessions each of around 30~40 minutes depending on safety car and other factors.

I remembered to ask James to take some pics in my session, Thanks for the following.

This is how I saw my first session. Up the straight and just into 4th,

Then use my Sunako-style braking technique to good effect. Although I didn't expect a three wide braking attempt into this corner.

Once I got used to it, Ebisu's downhill S-curve is great. At this stage about 4~odd hours had past and the car was sliding around but totally predictable on the RE01R. I was loving my first session.

Eliminating mistakes from my driving and making some progress. (This B-Class Mirage was no match for the mighty Prelude) hehe.

After this session and some lunch, then I went back to work and the camera dissappeared for a while. (actually the whole race)
Somehow I couldn't really get confident with the car in the second session, being hounded by much faster and just a little faster cars. It'd be interesting to see the time differences in these two sessions. By the time I completed my less confident second session it was right on dusk.

I found my camera again in my relax time. This is Aki blasting into the night.
Here is Tom on the final lap. To our surprise, a 9:10 finish gave Tom a grueling last stint.

CONGRATULATIONS TGR! 12hours of hard work and many more hours of prep paying off to bring home the BB6.

The proud team with the machine. The "race director's prize" winning team.

Ebisu 12hr Race Review Part 4 - Pre Race

Mr2 heading out to take up pole.
Ebisu circuit always advertises in the nicest of places.

Crid was setting up.

James and I headed down to survey the grid.

High budget teams at the front.

Most of these cars have inbuilt air jacks. I like the FD Rx7 splitter on this NC. It wouldn't finish like this though.

This GTI-R shows that this event is a "run what you have" style event. It had a rear mount intercooler setup.

Rod looking proud of his qualifying.

Our gaijin Sumi-san was calm and ready to go.

His view of the preparations.

Tom giving some last minute advice.

Ready to rock and roll.

Aki, Alex and James in good spirits. Play the top gun music here.

GT-R 33 pace car.
And I was wondering why Sumi san slowed just a few meters before....
Then I turned around....
Ah hah!

Ebisu 12hr Race Review Part 3 - Qualify

Early rise and get as we got to the track, there were already a stack of things to do. Swap back to race rubber, change a lot of stuff, fix a few things and get ready.

I can't believe I was still applying stickers on the car 2 minutes before the qualifying session.

We passed our technical inspection and were told we gaijins were to be watched very closely by officials all race.

This B class Integra DC5 had all the right equipment for the event. A very well sorted machine.

Rod did well putting us in a good spot for Sumi-san to start.

Pole sitter.. Simply... Fastest. "grrrrrrrrr" "pshyu" followed by flames! That's the story of turbo power.


This Silvia also had no problems passing up the straight.

DC5 looked nice. Notice the window net too.
Even a AE86 on the grid, but it would only see about 100 laps.
Race countdown to continue.