Monday, November 30, 2009

Extra Ebisu 6Hr - the Video! (aka James' Perspective)

For those of you waiting for the video version, here it is!

Many thanks again to James G. for his fantastic video skills!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Extra Ebisu 6 Hour - Rod's Perspective.

Rather than re-post all. I'll direct readers to Rod's own RacingInJapan blog

His post includes a lot more than just the TG-Racing event, so check it out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ebisu Super Taikyu Web Page

Check us out on the Ebisu Circuit Super Endurance page.

Direct Link ...

Extra Ebisu 6 Hour - Dan's Perspective.

Dear All
Wonderful guys you all , So happy to race with you all if my driving style suitable for our team &,If I have seat always I'm there.

Anyway first time I had FF Honda on circuit all the times have been with Roadster & Imprezas,Evos.

In Ebisu uphill,felt little lack of power even though 2.2 VTEC, I think prelude is little heavy compare with some same class machines. we can do some weight reduction(Lightining) on expert honda instructions.

Again So sorry about under str. & front Left tyre wear toomuch as first Driver so discomport will do some good alignment & shocks works-So sorry not a technical guy but just love cars,speedy driving even My Roadester I have pit crew two Japanese for even practice days in Tsukuba.So much lack of Tech. expertise on cars-sorry.

Thanks Miguel your Managment & Technical advice for all of us

Thanks Sumisan for very tired organize works, all paper works with Good Gyjins

Thanks Tom,Rod,James & Mike for Be a wonderful guys to me & my car crazy Son you all so kind super gyjins in Japan.

Finaly Thanks Tom, Invited me to such a great times with Great bunch looking forward to see you all in very near future.

Kind Regards,

Dhammika Silva (dan)
p.s- all the photos sent by my Nikon D70- My son's camera has lot send later

Ebisu 6 extra hour - Tom's perspective

I've driven all 3 races with the Prelude now. The 12 hour on the original Aragosta suspension setup, the 6 hour on the Tein and now the last 6 hour on the new Aragosta rebuilt suspension with uprated damping and springs. Each race saw an improved the car and faster lap times.

Thinking back to the original race, I think tires have made a huge difference. My original first session was done on RE01s where as the 2nd night session was on a vastly grippier tire, the Z1 star specs. Unfortunately, I found night driving a real visual challenge and was not able to drive as fast as I should have been able to drive to really get a feel for the Z1s but I could sense that they were faster. The next race, we had 8 new Z1s and after a practice session, everyone who raced was confident of the extra available grip and raced them harder leading to improved lap times. Personally, I preferred the first suspension over the TEIN setup we had due to a very slow initial roll rate. I personally think tires as well as cooler weather made me faster.

This last race, the car was vastly different again. A new suspension, gear box and LSD among other things. The gearbox got rid of the reverse problems, but it does have some syncro trouble I think between 2nd and 3rd. The LSD gives us vastly improved traction out of corners which feels amazing. I really enjoyed that. Its a one-way LSD setup. The suspension immediately felt amazing on practice and gave me a lot of confidence to try to go faster.

During practice I pitted a few times to try different damping adjustments and was really amazed by the difference they made. The first setting I tried was quite good everywhere except for the chicane where I felt, if we could get easier neutral turn-in, we could improve our lap time. The next few settings were definitely a step backwards until finally, I got something I liked and went out and got a 1'11.4 in one lap before I came back in again satisfied. What I liked though was how different it felt with every twist. Thanks Miguel and Sumi for working with me on the adjustments.

Before qualification, we found the crack in the rotors. I was in two minds about what to do but decided to believe in the brakes and get on with it. On new tires, I headed out around the first corner and lost it completely sideways though the chicane. I managed to get things back under control and pointing down hill again but it was quite a scare. I had completely forgotten that these were brand spanking new tires so they still had to get through a layer of skin before getting down to actual proper rubber compound. I did 2 slow laps to get the tires prepped and on my first hot lap, I scored a 1'10.5. The next few laps, I made the mistake of following the super 7 around which affected my time as I had to lift or brake earlier to avoid him at times. I felt we could have gone faster but it was time to save the rotor/tires and car and come in. A 1'10.5 is the fastest the car has been and it got us 8th on the grid and 2nd in class - ahead of the Super 7 I might add :-) Looking at the TM data, I note that the best virtual lap time for that session was a 1'10.0 so we can get into the 1'09s for sure.

Dan started the race for us and I mostly watched from the pit as I kept an eye on things. Dan is new to the team which made starting the race for us a lot more stressful on him then he might like to admit. It's always hard to know what your team mates are thinking, you are worried about starting from 8th and ending your session last and not living up to expectations, you are worried that you haven't driven the car so much before, nor done a rolling start. You are worried you might mess up and kill the car before anyone else gets to drive. You want to bring the car back but you want to make your team proud too. I know this feeling from my first endurance race when I started the race for 7 others that I didn't know and I was starting from 2nd on a grid of about 28. Pressure!

When Dan pitted, I checked tire pressures and checked the tires. We had a problem. Our front left tire was showing a lot of degradation and was ripping apart on the outside. Tire pressure was down also to 220kpa (a slow punture perhaps?) and we sent Sumi out on it hoping for a safety car so that we could change it without losing too much time. That was a terrible judgement call and I'm quite embarrassed over agreeing to it but it was driven by 1 silly reason; the fact that this was only the beginning of hour 2 and we had only 4 worn tires left (one of which itself was blistered although not too badly) - would we last the race... Would I be able to drive the car back to Tokyo on our race rubber? Deja-vu from the last race.

Anyway, Sumi was out on badly worn tires but doing quite well with lap times of around 1'13 ~ 1'14 so all didn't seem too bad. Back in the pit, we thought about the problem and decided to change the tire if the chance arose. 30 minutes into Sumi's session things were looking bad as he was lapping around 1'30 and we decided to bring him in albeit a little too late. He had a puncture and was coming in anyway. With the tire changed, Sumi did a few more 1'16 laps before bringing the tires back in pristine condition for Mike. Apologies Sumi! You did a fantastic job! I hope you learned as much from it as I did.

Mike was in charge of hour 3 for us and he promised to drive hard but without pushing under-steer. He lapped a mixture of 1'13s with some 1'12s and 1'14s in the mix. He got our best lap of the race which was a 1'12. Well done Mike! When Mike pitted though, the tires were showing blistering again although no-where near as bad as when Dan first came in. Still having learned from the puncture, we decided to give Rod a "new" left tire.

Rod was only out about 15 minutes when the safety car came out so we dragged Rod in and decided to raise the front suspension. Miguel and Sumi worked their magic and we had Rod out again before the safety car ended. He noted that the car under-steered more with the new setup but he drove a pretty clean race and finished our 4th hour with decent rubber left for James. I need to check up on Rods times but think he drove very consistently at 1'14s. Nice driving Rod!

James was in charge of hour 5. We'd two old front tires left should we have needed them for the last driver which was me. James was very mindful of the tires also and lapped with average lap times of 1'15. Thank you for being so mature James! During James run, I noted that we were only 1 lap down from car 39 which was a white roadster. We were sitting in 10th willing James on to wind that lap back when the safety car went out at around 14:40 and the decision was made to fill up, bring James in and send me out. This made sense race tactics wise but perhaps not so much for James whos session was cut about 15 minutes short. Sorry James! I hope it was worth it to get 9th place!

Before I got in the car the guys put on the old front tire from the practice session on the front left and off I went just in front of car 39 who was trying to up the count to a 2 lap lead. I drove slow enough around during the 2 safety car laps much to the annoyance of the 2 cars behind me who kept flashing me. I suspect they wanted to pit again for more gas before the safety car would come around but I was in charge and they didn't have time to pit before the green flag came out and the race was back on as I missed third gear up the hill and let the cars get too close to me. The faster NB got up my inside on the chicane and I slowed to get a clean line around it when he also slowed in front of me thus letting car 39 through for a 2 lap lead! What just happened? Was that team tactics? I smiled to myself at the cleverness and chased conservatively for the next 3 laps. Having a 75 minute session left and worrying about excessive tire wear, I wasn't going to push the tires just yet. I'd save them for when I needed them.

Car 39 pitted about 4 laps into my session and I looked at the petrol gauge only to see that I'd just around 7/8 of a tank and about 70 minutes to go... Hmmm. From that point on, I decided to be intelligent about fuel also so as to avoid having to pit in and lose laps to car 39. About 40 minutes to go I passed car 39 on the uphill section and new that we were safely either ahead on the same lap or 1 lap ahead. All I had to do was keep the tires, keep the fuel and stay on the track and we'd keep our new 9th place. The orange light came on with about 10 minutes to go and I started changing up even more actively and not using all the throttle on the downhill sections. It became a race for survival.

Coming over the finish line, I was blissfully happy and shoved my arm out the window as if we'd won. What a race... There is something about an endurance race, the complete team effort, the awe at the car making it so far that draws you in wanting more. It turns out I didn't really have to worry about tires either as they were pristine like I wanted them as I had to drive back to Tokyo on them :-)

In hindsight, it would have been worth swapping data cards in the TraqMate to check the first sessions video while Sumi-san was running to see if we could identify if tire wear was down to the driver or the car. I've since reviewed some of Dan's footage and am pretty sure that he destroyed the tires in the first 20 minutes or so of his session. The remaining 40 minutes he actually drove really well as he found his lines and braking points. Nice driving in the last part of your session Dan!

In my opinion we are killing tires primarily in two places.
a) downhill braking and turn in area followed by under-steering the exit.
b) exit of the last corner
Here a) is the primary killer.

Thinking about this further, I think we need:
a) pre-race driver education on how to drive our car and what not to do.
b) more camber on the front - we need to use more of the tire under load. this will help get more speed uphill also on the exit of the last corner as well have more tire patch in contact.
c) more setup testing to better understand what we have and how to change it.
d) different tires which are less prone to break up under a little abuse. The RE11s for example have a much wider outside thread like an s-tire and might be worth trying. Other Sports-radial suggestions welcome.
e) improving downhill braking. A lot of problems seem to stem from braking issues down hill. RE11s also brake quite well in my opinion. Maybe worth trying a stronger pad on the rear (as it doesn't need to be an endurance pad on the rear). Another thing which will help that is reducing weight which has already been mentioned.

I would tend to shy away from harder springs right now and leave the suspension as it is. I think we have a lot more we can improve on before we need to go firmer. Camber might be just what we need to go even faster.

Hmmm. That is rather a long post without any photos but I'm sure my team mates will forgive me. Again - thanks to all for a great day and some great racing. Thanks especially to all who worked on the car preparation!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ebisu Extra 6 Hour - Mike's perspective

Joined TGR team again as a driver in their Honda for the 6hr endurance race. The weather was great albeit very cold. The rain that was forcast never came. In practice I managed my best lap time at Ebisu so far (1:11.9) thanks to an improved car (stiffer springs) plus me finally finding a solution to the S bend downhill hairpin and the kink/uphill hairpin. Tom also got his best time during qualifying with a 1:10.56, putting us 2nd in class and 8th on the grid.

The 6 drivers were :
Myself plus-
T O`Dowd
R. Rolirad
J. Gibbons
D. Silva
team manager, pit boss and all round sweetheart: M. Varella-Cid

Tom also got his best time during qualifying with a 1:10.56, seated 2nd in class and 8th on the grid. Overall the car felt like a different car than before - much more stable - a good 2 secs faster. On race day after qualifying 10 mins before race start I noticed a 3 inch long crack going through one of the brake rotors!! The spares being in Tokyo.

I was a tad surprised to get agreement when I suggested we drill out the crack :) a technique thats often used to stop crack propogation. We quickly drilled a small hole at the end of the crack in the hope that would stop, or slow it growing. I checked at each pit stop to see if the crack was growing or if it was eating up the pads. As it happens the rotor and pads lasted the 6hr race without falling apart! These rotors had just been skimmed and fitted the day before. this crack therefore must have grown very quickly!

Unforunately were still seeing rapid outside edge tyre wear although not quite as bad as before. The car currently doesnt have much camber so its been suggested we could look at adjusting that and seeing if we can reduce the edge wear.

We qualified 8th and finished 9th overall. In class, we qualified 2nd and finished 5th. 13 cars ran, 6 in our class. We out-qualified a Westfield seven which Tom almost drove over under braking in qualification

It was a fun race!!


Ed. Mike's full picture Gallery is here. (Miguels also here.)

Ebisu Extra 6 Hour - Miguel's Perspective

Whilst I’ve got it on the brain, may as well get this mail fired off! Great fun as usual this weekend. Felt like a real team working together and having fun, which is what it’s all about, innit! J

Thanks for being such a great bunch of guys racing. Even though I only drove one warm up lap, one fast lap and one coming in lap (To test how the car felt) I felt like I raced this weekend. Managing was fun and of course socializing was enjoyable as ever too. I think everyone had fun.

I think we all agree the car behaved better now than ever before, which is encouraging – handles better and everybody was able to set consistently faster lap times, but there’s still lots of work to do! We also learnt it’s important to bring the spares we have for the car. Had we say, lost a drive shaft – or had our badly cracked disc failed (Amazingly it lasted the entire race!), we’d have been out of contention – so no storing spares next time please!

Next race will be in April 2010 at Ebisu again (6 hours). We’d like to get dates for this and sign up the next 6 race drivers ASAP. That way, we can bring in the funds needed for the next stage of preparation. I’m quite happy to not race this event, I’d prefer to spend time trying to understand the car and getting feedback from people – and continue improving it. Maybe I can do the race after that… there should be plenty next year.

The suspension is better controlled now and the car pitches and rolls less – but our conservatively chosen spring rates need to be increased. Also, despite setting toe to zero – we had some blistering of the outside of tyres, especially the left side, which came from heavy under steer exiting the downhill chicane and the hairpin as the bottom of the hill. Drivers need to avoid putting so much pressure on the tyres, since it kills them – but in any case it’s a problem we also need to address with handling. Watching our car in the hairpin closest to the back of the pit area with Mike – we noticed when the suspension at the front was set very low, we’d lift a rear wheel – after increasing front ride height, this stopped – and Rod mentioned the car seemed to under steer more as a result. Tom also said the same, having felt the car was different when he first drove it, compared to the end, when the car no longer wanted to turn in. So we can lower the front a little more, but have to be mindful of rubbing tyres on the underside of the inner fender, especially as there’s vertical pieces of metal which could cut the tyre on a larger bump.

Suspension modifications:
I’d like to see if 16kg/mm springs are able to fit the rear shock (Which would give us a choice of 12, 13.4 & 16 to test with) and uprate the front springs to around 18-20 kg/mm.

Camber adjustment kits are available, which are cheap (Eibach or other brands). The outside of the tyres could be made to run cooler if we decrease camber further. We really should be wearing the tyres out evenly, ideally and of course – not getting this blistering. If we can find it, a eurethane bush kit would also add improvements in keeping geometry correct when pushing hard. If available, this too is usually inexpensive.

We actually have 7.5J wheels instead of 7J, so we could fit 225/45/R16 (If size is available?) or 225/50R16 at the front for the next race to also help reduce under steer – although I think our problem is of front end control rather than tyre width…

I don’t think our Prelude will ever become an evil over steer prone car, it’s quite front heavy so I would also like us to also consider fitting a larger rear anti-roll bar to the rear to help turn in too.

To test these modifications, I think Tom’s idea of going to Ebisu one weekend to test & adjust the car after modifications is a good idea. We could then play with spring rates and damping, plus camber settings. Finally testing if the car would be better with or without a thicker rear stabilizer and have the car best prepared for racing. Maybe we could even go up a day before practice.. assuming weather etc. co-operate.

We would need two new front tyres to do this at least, or all 4 ideally – but it would mean the testing and setup is done before the next race, not set during driver practice.

Assuming our damping adjustment range would be enough to accommodate the spring rates we decide on, then all of the above modifications should be comfortably within budget for the next race – if we choose to go with them. I’d like to see under steer become much less of a problem – as this is what’s slowing us down most now.

Lightening modifications:

A. For sure, we’ll need to lighten the car, especially the front (Which should also help turn-in). So we’ll need to remove air conditioning pump, condenser, drier and all piping, make the a/c fan work in combination with the cooling fan if necessary too (although I haven’t noticed any problem with cooling there anyways). Battery should be ditched and replaced with a smaller dry cell (Kinokuni) and a kill switch also fitted, which should be used to isolate the battery when car’s not in use. We can also get rid of: interior sound deadening on the floor, rear wiper and motor and maybe replace the window winders with manual ones and get rid of the electric mirrors replacing with craft square styled ones , if it’s not too much work / expense. Mike also suggested an FRP boot lid with no heavy hinges (bonnet pins instead?) which would be nice if available. Lightening the car is pretty much free for the most part.

Would also be nice to fit wider rims. We noticed the winning N class car (RIRE wide body NB8C) had major bodywork modifications, so there’s nothing stopping us rolling the arches and cutting the front fenders just below to swage line and spacing it out with z shaped pieces of stainless steel and riveting in place. Easy to do, looks cool and enables us to fit wider wheels.
Other desirable modifications:
The brake does seem quite mushy although it’s not air that’s causing the problem. It may be the master cylinder’s seals that are worn, so we could replace the master cylinder (Easier than rebuilding, which can be time consuming) – which can improve brake feel.

We’ve noticed other N class cars openly *take most advantage of* the rules. Most run without catalysts (Judging by their sound) so we should fit a cat replacement pipe(Taking the original cat in case needed), Mugen manifold (When we can afford it) and – we can also fit some form of open induction kit. Not that these will improve power a lot, but will at least sound like it should! We could adapt an old existing induction kit to work with the resonance chamber already on the car. Should cost pennies to do if not free… with parts I may have lying around.

Rear bumper. I’d like to propose the rear bumper be cut with an upside down “D” shape, similar to the back of a 370Z – and black mesh fitted. Doesn’t have to be a huge hole, just enough to allow air to escape rather than creating a parachute effect. This is only very minor though. Remember we also want to refit mirror bracket in a safer position. Aki’s V-Tec controller also needs to go on.

ATS final gear would also be desirable. Don’t really fancy taking out the box to fit it, but it will become a necessary evil… That is, unless we can find a CL1 transmission used and fit a better final to that…. Would make for a very quick Prelude then… We’d all like to see our car be capable of holding it’s own on the uphill against other N/A cars J!

We can also drill and rivet seams, to help stiffen the car… So much can be done yet, guys!

In brief, I propose for the next race preparation would be
New front brake discs:
6 new tyres (Minimum):
Engine oil change
New springs (16gk/mm ): If only two springs:
Camber adjustment links:
Eurethane bush kit (Not essential right now, but desirable at some point):
Rear Stabiliser kit
Brake master cylinder: .
Dry Cell battery & Kill switch..
Cat replacement pipe: .
Replacement belt for use after removing A/C pump – Need to measure and obtain before doing this removal:
Induction kit: 
Replacement brake duct hose : .
Mugen manifold, and perhaps an ATS final drive gear…

I’ll be off now to do some proper work!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Team Work and Play

Tom and Miguel in deep discussion. The guys work hard but also have some fun in their adventures.
Here is a little insight from some snaps. hehe :)

The serious side...

The not so serious side...

What's this piece of road kill under here? Mmm Squirrel.

Last time it tasted better.

Rod helping Sumi-san into the car.

The serious review of TRAQMATE data.

Time for dinner with Andy from and a tour of Kumakubo's K-Style

The guys wish they were running one of these.

Next morning Tom plugs in again.

Rod does some lonely secret work...

Sumi-san doing it the easy way. Ahh electricity...!

And doing it the hard way fitting in to the Gaijin experience. James making video.

Some last minute directions for Dhan.

After a while, Miguel got the taste for squirrel again.

Time to pose.

Then get to work...! race time.