MRC ACC League Round 7/12 – Suzuka Sprints

The good news is that my recordings for this race worked… and despite the wet I actually had a good couple of races too. Unlike the previous weeks long race, this week we’d be doing 2 30 minute sprints, each with its own practice and qualifying sessions.

Prep

Most of my prep for this race was about practicing in the wet and getting tire pressures sorted out. I was able to lap in the 1:12s consistently with a best lap of 1:11 – I knew the quick drivers would be lapping quicker than that – about 3s I expected. Sadly, the weather put a few drivers off and there were only 15 starters compared to the 18 from the previous week.

Race 1

I qualified in P10 for the first race and after a poor start, dropped to P11 after the first couple of corners behind crashtor_maldona. I held the position and had a good fight with blacky306mi out of Spoon after I got a poor exit. We drag raced down to 130R with me taking the corner first. At the end of the lap I had a small gap to both him and crashtor_maldona.

On the following lap I made a unforced error entering the 1st Degna, allowing 2 cars in front of me and dropping me to P12 (I made up a position after another car stopped in the pits). I crossed the line still in P12, 1.1s behind blacky306mi, passing him at the hairpin after he ran wide. With a bit more confidence, I started to push more and was soon catching crashtor_maldona.

Almost halfway through the race, I made a mistake and span the car in the Esses, and dropped back to P13 with blacky306mi a distant 8s in front of me. I was much quicker than him and I’d caught him within 3 laps and I passed him on the run to the 1st Degna after he ran wide. With 8 minutes to go, I was in P11 – right where I’d started.

I soon caught MrFreggel in front of me and passed him after he spun off and, on the same lap I relieved crashtor_maldona of P9 when he left the track at Spoon. With 5 minutes to go I was in P9 with MRC_Dan_Gleeball 10s in front of me. I thought catching him was asking to much but then he made an error too and by the end of the lap the gap was only 1.4s. He span out at the end of the Esses and I was in P8. With 3 minutes go and plenty of space on track I concentrated on not throwing a good result away and brought the car home in P8 – a result I was pretty happy with.

At the end of the race, my scores were SA 64/99, CC80/99 and CN73/99.

Full replay of Race 1 on my YouTube

Race 2

I started higher up the grid for race 2, in P8 although this was because some drivers chose not to set a time in the qualifying session. I got a better start this time around but, going to fast ran wide a couple of times in the first few corners. I only lost one place as a result of this and after I’d calmed it down was back with the back by the Hairpin. I moved up to P7 when 2 cars had to stop for repairs.

The quicker drivers in front of me soon started to pull away and by the start of lap 3 I had a gap of 5s to Mervilde in front of me and only 1s to MrFreggel behind. Coming into the first Degna I made a mistake, ran off track and when rejoining was hit in the rear by blacky306mi. I was spun around and the car took some light damage. He carried on and I decided to see how the car was before I decided to pit.

The car didn’t seem to be badly damaged and I was able to reclaim the place from blacky306mi at Spoon after he left the track. We fought over the place for about half a lap until I started to pull away and set about chasing MrFreggel. We were halfway through the race and he was 7s in front.

I was slowing catching him and I was able to pass 1 lap later when he span at the hairpin. His prone car also briefly slowed down blacky306mi who was just over 1s behind me. Through attrition I was now up to P7 where I stayed for a while, slowly catching B_Rated.

With 6 minutes to go, I caught him on the back straight and we drag raced down to 130R. This time, he was the braver man and while braking I also allowed blacky306mi through, dropping me to P8. I stayed close to the pair of them and retook P7 when blacky306mi made an error at the Hairpin and then took P6 when B_Rated also made an error half a corner later. It must have been the lap to make mistakes because I caught Mervilde exiting Spoon and took P5. With 3 minutes to go all three of them were right behind me at the start of lap 13 but I was able to hold on, beating blacky306mi by 0.9s at the end of 30 minutes. My best result of the season so far!

At the end of the race, my scores were SA 65/99, CC79/99 and CN78/99. My SA had started the evening on 63, my car control had dropped 1pt and my consistency had gone up 4pts so pretty good overall.

Full replay of Race 2 on my YouTube

Lessons Learned

The biggest lesson I learned throughout the evenings racing was the value of concentration. Other than the error in the 2nd race I didn’t really make an error because of lack of concentration and although I didn’t pass anyone for position on track I was able to stay on the black stuff in slipper conditions while others didn’t. I was really happy with both results, especially the 5th place which I hoped would help me stay in the top 10 in the championship.

Next week we move on to Kyalami – a track I really like although it’s a long time since I drove it.