Archive for August, 2009

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R35 GTR Hot Battle in Sendai

August 21, 2009

Invited to attend a private event and watch Drift King Keiichi Tsuchiya, Nobuteru Taniguchi, Manabu Orido and a collection of super hardcore GTR R35’s on one of the most famous tracks in Japan? Can’t really say no to that, can I?

But bringing one of the, stripped and race prepped GTR’s 500 kilometers home from Sendai to Tokyo all by myself?

I would be an idiot to refuse!

I got a phone call earlier from a friend of mine who has developed and designed performance parts for the R35 GTR. Without going into too much detail, these are one of a kind parts and have been developed specifically with the R35 GTR in mind.

This is Y’s hobby and what a hobby it is.

I was at dinner with Y a few weeks ago and remarked that I am interested in following the cars progress as well as the difference the parts he is having designed will make to the GTR’s performance.

I have driven Y’s R35 up in Hakone prior to the installation of these custom made parts. When I drove it, was just after he had fitted massive AP Racing calipers to the front of the GTR and the difference in performance between the standard brake set up of the normal R35 and the set up on Y’s R35, was enormous.

Once brought up to temperature, I simply could not believe how deep I could go into corners under braking – zero fade and a firm responsive pedal feel made it astonishing to drive quickly. The weight of the car suddenly became a trivial issue – the brakes simply are now more than a match for the chassis and its weight. I’ve driven some mighty quick cars but the brakes on this car and they way they gel with the performance of its other parts really does require special appreciation.

Read the report on this monster brake setup here via Speedhunters.

http://speedhunters.com/archive/2009/07/16/carlife-gt-gt-it-s-all-about-pedal-feel.aspx

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Y’s phone call was all the more interesting because he has been gracious enough to invite me to attend the Touge Battle in Sendai Highlands where his GTR will be tested against a number of other cars; among them, an R35 entry from MCR as well as one of the iconic sky blue FD’s from the Amemiya stable.

I will be staying with the boys from D Performance; the workshop handling Y’s GTR; a team who will be coming up from Nagoya to take part in this event.

D specialize in bespoke and custom performance parts and the owner, N,  has access to all the necessary tools for the design and manufacture of  whatever part you wish to create. Renderings on the computer are turned into real life one off performance sculptures hewn from billet aluminium and sheets of carbon fiber. The GTR we are taking to Sendai has had custom made front and rear dampers especially with this event in mind. The Sendai Hot Battle will be a true test of the cars capabilities with these new additions in place.

The car is packing about 580 HP thanks to the recent tune and titanium front pipes so it now, theoretically at least, should have all performance bases covered. Power, Brakes and Handling. This may very well be the best balanced GTR of the group.

I will get to sample the car before the event – and well before copious amounts of alcohol are consumed. ( I heard N is a very big drinker so I will have to fly the Australian flag, I think ) I will also be bringing the car back from Sendai  – so I am really looking forward to spending an intimate 500 kilometers with one of the fastest cars available in the world today.

I can’t imagine how much more of an animal it is now with all that weight stripped out of it.

I’m pretty pumped about all of this obviously. Tsuchiya, Taniguchi and Orido will all be there as drivers and of course this will be shot for a special Hotversion Battle DVD that will no doubt be issued and reissued with all the internet captures you can think of.

Since I am going up there with Deck and will be taking my own materials, expect updates as soon as I get the files uploaded.

Plus, now that my iPhone is jail broken and tethered to my Mac, I can do it all on the go from the 3G connection via Softbank. Can’t wait!

It is going to be a massive couple of days.

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The Sti Forester Gets Forested

August 18, 2009

Not sure why it took me so long to upload this video but I guess once you dont act on something you like immediately it tends to head towards the back of your mind.

Luckily, the iPhone 3GS has 32GBs of storage space so even if I forget, it wont.

This was shot up on the Hakone Turnpike, actually, the other side of it. The road is magical – really amazing piece of blacktop and being late on a weekday, was completely free from any cars. I was actually on my way back from picking up a couple of drinks and had to take this road to get them! The humanity of it all.

( Anyways, as we all know, going 20 kilometers is pretty selfish just for a couple of drinks – *he knows who he is* )

Amazing for any road in Japan really – especially ones of this quality.

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Your Best Friend is a 5 Meter long 1000lb Crocodile?!

August 18, 2009

Not car related unless you are a pimp who likes reptile skinned boots but worth of a post none the less…

This is almost impossible to believe but the pictures and video are not lying. There is no photo-shop trickery involved here.

croc

I simply cannot fathom what I see in the links I will give but a part of me knows it was always going to be possible and good on the guy for proving the scared and the doubters wrong!

It is simply jawdropping to see and read.

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2589865/Blokes-best-mate-is-a-crocodile.html

…and video just incase you thought the pictures weren’t enough! Not the best quality but still…

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Summer Drift Matsuri 2009 Build Up Video

August 11, 2009

A short video of my thoughts leading up to the 2009 Summer Drift Matsuri.

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A Pain in the Neck for Michael Schumacher

August 11, 2009

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No doubt I am not the only one that is very disappointed by the 7 times champ’s decision to pull the pin on his F1 return as a stand-in for the injured Felipe Massa.

It would have been an amazing thing to watch but sadly, Michael Schumacher is not going to be on the grid in Valencia, citing neck pain from a previous motorbike accident.

M.S went on to say that, Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and team principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe.”

“I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out. Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible. The consequences of the injuries caused by the bike-accident in February, fractures in the area of head and neck, unfortunately have turned out to be still too severe. That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by Formula One yet.”

“This are the clear results of the examinations we did on the course of the past two weeks and the final examination yesterday afternoon. As there were no improvements after the day in Mugello, I decided at short notice on Sunday to do that thorough examination already yesterday. I am disappointed to the core. I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me. I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.”

Disappointing news but what is done is done.

Ferrari will be in chaos right now trying to decide on who will stand in for Massa but they are spoiled for choice – they have Mark Gene and the incumbent Luca Badoer.

Both of them will do a fine job and are definitely more race ready but wouldnt it be great to see Kubica in the seat, now that he is on the market. for a one race special deal?

That would be a sure fire way to kick Raikonnen in the ass and get him moving again, wouldn’t it!¿

*EDIT*

It has just been announced that Luca Badoer will stand in for Massa in Valencia

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Skyline and Driver Emerge Unscathed From a Brutal Summer Drift Matsuri

August 10, 2009

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A great weekend was made perfect with the Skyline running faultlessly on the 300 odd kilometer return journey back to Tokyo from Nihonmatsu, where the Drift Festivals are always held.

I really caned the Nissan hard this weekend and despite me not bothering to change the oil or filter, not to mention the fact that it had been sitting idle for 3 months under the care of Andy and Emily from Powervehicles, make the mechanical reliability of the RB20 and its 1994 chassis even more amazing. I’m really surprised with how compliant and robust this car is. It’s like it was made with drifting in mind and I can tell you first hand it is a very easy car to slide around in any condition.

I took 6 rims and wheels with me to this event figuring they wouldn’t last long at all but as it turns out, the weather in Fukushima had other ideas. What started off as a fine day on Friday, turned into non-stop drizzle over the course of Saturday and Sunday meaning that tyre endurance was less of an issue. I needn’t have worried though.

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I will admit I was concerned about the weather. I have only ever drifted once before and that was in May for the Spring Matsuri  but at that time, the weather was bone dry.

Fast forward 3 months and things, at least “on the surface” anyway, were very different. Not only was I a complete novice with a 2 way LSD, I was also a novice at chucking around 1400 kilos of car around with said LSD in the wet. Like I said already, I needn’t have worried. The car ran mechanically perfect.

I had an absolutely amazing time. I found my limits on a huge number of occasions on all the courses and still managed to avoid the walls and other cars the entire weekend. How much of that is down to outright good fortune, I will never know, so for now, I am content to consider it a mix of things!

One of the absolute high points of the weekend, came late on Sunday; in what appeared to be the craziest time for all concerned. I cannot describe the amount of chaos and damage being delivered piping hot to spectators and cars alike. There were chances to get close and talk with some of the sports larger characters and many professional drivers use these events as a fun and cheap excuse to test parts and settings; in general a great reason to go absolutely nuts.

Not that I minded because I finally discovered  just what it was that separated the realm of a top level D1 driver to, well, the plebian and insignificant existence of  a driver the caliber such as myself. The canyon is beyond large and yet, I still think I can bridge it…

Naoto Suenaga, an integral member of “Team Orange”, took me for what is quite possibly the most exhiliarating 15 minutes of my time ever spent in a car. I find it very difficult to put into words the savagery, finesse and utter control with which he manhandled his “street driven” 180SX around the Nishi course at Ebisu Circuit. For the entire time, he was within mere centimeters of the car in front, Andy from Power Vehicles, in what can only be described as controlled madness. I’ve never seen someone so comfortable being that deep inside someones line and not only that, at over 100kph and completely sideways to boot…at least not from the passenger seat, I haven’t.

I couldn’t help but laugh every time he came over the crest sideways, on full lock with the engine held at red-line then off the throttle for the slightest of moments, sliding out wider that I cared to imagine.  He somehow found grip everywhere on the wet and slippery surface, no doubt thanks to the amazing Advan Neova’s just before viciously kicking the clutch in the guts while holding the right foot flat – all the while within an inch of the car next to him. It was an awesome display of car control and it left me stunned.

Naoto was also kind enough to offer me some pointers for the Skyline and how I should approach the “Minami Bowl“, as I like to call it. Predictably, I have a lot to learn but I was heartened by the fact that he felt I was very talented and that was a very large compliment from someone of his caliber.  It makes me wonder if I should continue or not.