Round 3 of the championship saw us visit the streets of Tokyo for a night race on the longest track configuration available. A lot of very fast corners, long straights and 2 hairpin turns. Twelve drivers took the start, with season regular Anthony Brown missing the race and new driver Graham Miller joining us for the first time.
I spent most of the week getting ready for an Assetto Corsa Competizione race at Mount Panorama so other than a few laps on race day I didn’t do much prep for the race. In practice my times were just under 2 minutes and I played around with both the RS and RSS tire compounds looking for the one that worked the best.
I also reduced the ABS as an experiment and played with the cars brake balance. I entered with the balance set forwards and quickly reduced it in qualifying to start 7th in between Dan and Jonas.
As we started the race, Matt S’s connection dropped and we had to restart the session. This would have dire consequence for me unfortunately. Upon arrival at the first corner my car didn’t brake or steer and I dropped to 10th, in a drag race with Derek down to the container park. Still without brakes or steering I made a mess of the complex although was able to recover to 9th after both Matt S and Derek had problems too. Sitting behind Chris in the tunnel on the way to the final hairpin I realised that my brake balance had been reset when we’d had to restart the race and I quickly reset it to 0. With the car drivable again I started my recovery, passing Chris for 8th place exiting the hairpin.
At the end of lap 1 I was in 8th, one place lower than where I’d started with Chris 0.5s behind me and Matt P 2.2s in front of me. Matt P and Dan were fighting over 6th and I took 0.3s out of the gap in the following lap. Matt made the pass on the run down to the container complex and I was now chasing Dan for the second race in a row.
I started to drop Chris and made more time up to Dan and was right behind him running through the tunnel on lap 4 with a gap of 0.73s as we crossed the line. Unfortnately I picked up a 1.4s penalty for hitting the barriers at the final kerb which I’d have to get rid of. The pair of us soon caught Jonas who was having an off night with Da and he fighting hard at the hairpin while I tried to close the gap. Dan made the pass on lap 7 and the following lap I pitted for a new set of RSS tires and couple of laps of fuel. I was pretty sure I’d run out of fuel if I didn’t take any on.
I rejoined in 9th behind Chris with both Dan and Jonas yet to stop. Crossing the line at the end of lap 9, Chris was 8s in front with Dan and Jonas a long way in front. All three of them stopped on the next lap and I was able to jump ahead of Jonas and Chris but Dan exited just ahead of me with a 2s gap as we crossed the line.
With 10 minutes left I wanted to chase him down and pass him, setting my fastest time in the race 1:59.186. Every lap, the gap would change a little with both of us finding time here and there and I had to settle for 7th place, 2s behind him. It was a good race though and brought the 2 of us to within 2pts of each other with 2 rounds left.
The main lesson I learned here was to setup the car properly before entering the race as that way any changes would be kept if the session had to be restarted.
Next week we’re at Fuji – a track I know fairly well having raced there a few times before. Once again I don’t think I’ll have much opportunity to practice as ACC will consume most of my time. I’m looking forward to trying to beat Dan though and staying in front of him in the table.