Monday, February 19, 2007

Race1 - Wesbank Raceway [Part2 - Races]

Heat 1

i missed driver's briefing. oops. nobody freakn told me to go :P couldnt have been that important anyway rite...

yeeeeeeeee it was race time. no matter how glum things looked, this was my 1st race and it was gonna rock. i just wanted to have a cool dice with sum1, dance around the track, etc etc. been waiting for this my whole life ya know...

my noob teammies were nervous as hell. werent talking much, and were sitting there twiddling their thumbs staring into the distance. hmmmm. i just shrugged and got into the car to get lined up on the dummy grid. damn it was real hot at this point, sitting on the dummy grid waiting for the current race to finish, i was cooking in the car. i was trying to visualise what i'd do on the start line....i really didnt feel like crashing in the 1st corner, but i didnt wanna cruise too much as i'd get hit from behind....i'd never practised a pull-off before, but didnt think it would be too hard. it was just the braking point for the 1st corner HMMMM....tricky one. before i got time to get my mind set for the race itself, the marshall's whistle blew, green flag was waved and we were out on track....i thought we were gonna go out and grid up immediately, but we had a warmup lap....yay. i tried to get heat into my brakes as much as possible, the whole cold-brakes thing worried me...the warmup lap was medium paced...guys zig-zagging to warm up their tyres, getting heat under brakes etc etc....i just wanted to get to the grid and get going...

got to the right grid slot, i was well chuffed about that :P sitting there, i changed to 1st gear, held clutch in and maintained revs at around 3500rpm (advice from other drivers)...still wasnt nervous, was just concentrating on the lights. hadnt even thought what i was gonna do at the 1st corner lights on for an eternity....and then out. a huge roar as every1 pulled away...i got a good pulloff, not much wheelspin. i wasnt losing ground to anyone, but i was stuck on the outside...cruised into the braking zone, and it turned out that most around me did the same. got thru ok, and was just gonna concentrate on making it thru the 1st lap on cold tyres....dont crash just yet, zaahir.

end of lap1, and i was a few car lengths behind the guy in front of me....whatever position he was in. u dont know anything in a race, u just see cars around u and u just push :P i started pushing a bit, but was missing crucial gears....started dropping back, and everytime i recovered a bit, i missed another gear. james leach, veteran driver, overtook me in lap2 i think....i tried to hang on, attempted a pass into 1st corner....but missed 2nd gear. joke. i got repassed and then missed more gears. WTF?? this was a disaster, i kept going backwards....nobody around me, and i kept making errors with the downshifts...common noob error was to pull the lever from 3rd gear into 4th, instead of 3rd into 2nd...because u cant really feel where the lever is exactly, there is so much play....and i was doing this noob mistake almost every lap.

i didnt know how many laps there were in the race. i just knew i was losing ground all the time, and i was nowhere. it felt like a lapping session gone all wrong. before i knew it the race was over.

yup, over.

my arms were so damn sore, knees and elbows were bruised and purple from the usual bashings i get with all the chicanes and esses on the track.....eish. what a 1st race. nothing had happnd. was uneventful, frustrating, and over so damn soon that i thought it was red flagged. felt like 6laps of hell.

the race turned out to be 12laps....when i came back to the pits ppl were smiling, congratulating for, that was almost the most anti-climatic shit in my life. i wanted to at least have a battle with sum1, feel pressured, get into some hairy situations.....but hey, i gotta take what comes. its my 1st race and thats the story. a boring one. but at least i finished. guys were saying i did really well for sum1 who has never raced before, which was true i guess. i wasnt expecting the world, but i knew i couldve done better. few guys dropped out, i ended up finishing p13. points positions up to p12....i was so glad i didnt get a point, that was hardly a worthy drive for a championship point. wat was disappointing is that my car balance felt good. camber settings were nice, it was just a matter of clutch and i screwed it up all by myself.

courtney ended up getting tangled with sum1, he DNF'ed, and his wheel was screwed for the next heat. the upright for the swing arm was bent badly, the sideshafts were probably also fubar'ed but there was no time to fix it between heats. he was gonna hafta run with a funky wheel, just meant he was gonna have sum fun under braking :P little dean was raving abt his race, he seemed to have fun, battling with guys....dammit. looking at the timesheets, i drove Fastest Lap of 1m19.1....FL of the race was 15.9....little dean still going quicker, he managed 17.1....i was going backwards, i prayed for some fun in heat2.

Heat 2
God answered my prayers. this was by far the coolest fucking moment of my entire life. everything clicked, and i've never had so much fun EVER.

between the heats the heavens opened up and it really rained hard....shame for those porsche guys (i think it was) who were racing at the time. i was looking forward to a wet race, thinking back to last week's wet experience, but the track eventually dried out after other race classes ran on the track. oh well. wasnt this a worthless paragraph LMAO

sitting on the dummy grid i was nervous for the 1st time. 2nd race grid is determined from finishing positions of i was sitting p13, with faster guys behind me. thats wat made me nervous. again, whistle blown and green flag out before i could gather my thoughts. i distinctly remember sighing very deeply before pulling away. this was the last time i was gonna be at this track for a while, and everything had not quite lived up to the expectation i had of what was to be. it was time to change things, and i do remember letting go of absolutely everything. crashing the car, fucking up the gears. it was all gone. after this moment i cant quite remember my mindset, i think i was possessed or really focused :P it is seriously hazy.

i think i got a decent start, cant rem what i was doing on the start line. i was on the inside line so that was cool. wat was NOT cool was me missing 2nd gear on the FIRST CORNER OF THE RACE. everyone behind me cruised past. holy - fucking - shit.

i got angry.

thats when i started pushing like mad. hitting apexes everywhere, flying into the scary corners....ehhh i knew my car felt good from race1, and was really great to slide this thing. felt like i knew wat i was doing. and i was pissed off. but i channeled the anger. anthony commented to me after the race that he saw i was looking different on track, like i had the red mist or something, coz i was always tucking down in the car and looking very "grrr". must have been lol.

i was really concentrating on the gears and downshifts, and was getting them right. sort of right. got it a bit rough sometimes when i let the clutch out too quick and stuff...but it was ok. i was catching guys back up...bradley martin was having a bad misfire, so he had no engine grunt...james leach was behind him, and i caught the both of them at the oval...going round there i pushed hard so i could have some chance at slipstream down the straight....and woah it got interesting. a tiny bit of mika/zonta/michael thing happnd here lol....but not really. james pulled out of bradley on the inside, and i had a great run out the oval and was going to the outside....but there was concrete wall and a closing gap of bradley's car....i had to brake and wait for that split sec to see if brad had actually seen me. he left room so i got back on it again and crawled along the wall passed him....immediately into james' slipstream. had a nice battle with him...between the switchback hairpins, i always shut the door slowly on him nxt to me....i knew that he knew i was a noob, and could be unpredictable so he backed off. might as well use this card while im still new. missed couple gears so hadta defend him a few times, was cool. i was getting the braking sorta good now, not vibrating a lot and just about where the others are braking. james always gained on me in those zones tho, but i pulled away in the midfield....

this was the case with other drivers that i caught too....12laps was nothing, and i hadta get passed them fast...i braked well beyond wat i thought was could be done (which was probably the normal braking point lol), but managed to make it stick when i hooked the gears. driving in the slipstream was hot. i could feel the heat from the radiators thru the sidepods, got so unbearable at times that i had to tuck my arms and legs in, away from the heat....i had a nice battle with a lot of guys. had some close action with courtney, great wheel-to-wheel the end i pushed to try catch a couple guys still in view...i had just caught them, but the race was over...needed another lap or 2 :( ended up p12!!! the difference between my heats was night and day, but on the results it was one position :P eeiisshh but that was the most awesome experience ever, to be battling out with guys for position, strategising and pushing ye ass off, its just something i never felt before to this degree.....i was SO HAPPY. but i worked real arms were numb, and body was right royally banged up :/

looking at the timesheets it turned out i did 1m17.4 that race. WAT THE HELL. thats 1.5sec faster than i've been doing all weekend....and i still can gain more under just shows. mindset is what matters, screw everything else. i learned so much from this experience. SO MUCH. there is time to gain just about everywhere in the trickiest of places. the same principles of simracing are there....the racing lines, etc....but all those hundreds of small details i've discussed just make simracing insignificant in a way. there are too many variables, the consequences, the responsibility u have. the FUN. the adrenalin and rush of it all. i've never done sumin so incredible in my life, and im so glad i pushed so hard to fulfill my dream. all the work i've done towards it and time sacrificed and stress was ALL WORTH IT. the money. WORTH EVERY CENT. its certainly not a lot when u compare the money and politics involved in the higher forms of motorsport. im in little league compared to that stuff, but i wanted to know what it feels like. and it feels freakn AWESOME.

turns out this damn thing gonna be shown on tv on supersport :/ dammit, i knew i shouldve got a haircut b4 this race :P

next race is kyalami, march24 methinks....yeee baby :D but chatting to guys after this race, they told me with a straight face that wesbank is for little boys, and kyalami is for real men. and nobody laughed, just nodded. so, im in for sumin really fucked up on march 24th i am sure. cant wait.

Race1 - Wesbank Raceway [Part1 - Buildup]

i had a nice big fat breakfast before going to the track on saturday....because i knew i end up getting too tired from driving to eat properly at the track. what a big mistake that was :\ i dont know if it was nerves or what, i dont think so lol, i just ended up getting sick and thought i was gonna chunder any second. i managed to hold it down until the 1st session.

so everyone was there in full force....19cars. i was gonna be in the top20 woohoo :P people were so revved up to go....dean was keen (hey that rhymes), but u could see he was very nervous....courtney wasnt even there yet; he only arrived after the session and turned out they got lost :/ ok anyway, so it was time to go out and i just wanted to get a feel for the car again, warm up everything and get set to push like hell in the following went ok. cold tyres seemed interesting, sliding a lot and the brakes very cold....already started to dread the 1st lap of the race to come :D i was just revising that heel-toe stuff, and wasnt pushing. i still had nobody timing me so i had no clue what laptimes i am doing on this track.....dean had a new set of tyres on, as like everyone else i think. he reckoned they were a bit slippy, but when heat got into them he still wasnt sure if they felt faster than old tyres. thats good news!! :)

2nd session....mmmm i cant rem much of it, so it mustve been pretty uneventful. i think i was just pushing pushing as usual, and getting 2nd gear now much better....i still noticed i was getting destroyed by others into the big braking zones...ppl just cruised past me. was time to consult others abt it teammie courtney was now at the track, and he bedded his new set of tyres in.....weird, he instantly gained 0.7sec compared to the old set he was using last week (which were now on my car for this weekend)....hmmm, not so good news. dean also went around half a sec quicker, and he was happy with the grip levels of the new tyres....seeing as i cant afford a new set rite now its out of my hands...

after sitting around and discussing with ppl, it appears i was braking at least a good 50-100metres earlier than every1 :/ good grief. i sorta figured out the feet are a bit long, so the top was pushing against the steering column as i i thought i was getting full pressure when i actually wasnt. going out into the 3rd and final session before quali, it was official. i got meself a transponder so now i would know how slow i was really going eehehhe...i started getting the braking much better, now that i tilted my foot before a whole new ballgame. the entire car was shuddering under brakes. tyres bouncing a little i guess, its just the moment before locking up (or so i've heard from the comments in the pits). i could not see a fucking thing!! i'm sitting on the floor and fuel tank (coz with a seat i dont fit in the car), so its direct feedback. my helmet just got thundered around, and i couldnt see if i was stopping faster. required some practise....i was now getting the infield section right i thought, these set of esses were real tight but i was taking them flat out everytime...seems i gained some tenths on ppl there. i found sum1 to latch on again, was chasing down bradley martin, who had been out of racing for a while so we were sorta in the same boat in that session....was fun. still missed some gears which frustrated the hell outa me but was good. came outa the session to check laptimes, and turns out i did 1m18.9....leaders were 16.4 at that point, dean was on 17.6 and courtney it didnt look too bad. i felt if i got a good lap in, i could get was hoping for that in qualifying.

damn. every1 was lined up ready to go. i was told to stick in a pack in quali, coz slipstream makes a big difference, and u have incentive by chasing...everyone stormed off and i was still trying to start my car :P the starter motor wasnt catching, after a while i got it but was too late....i figured wat the hell, i wasnt gonna wait for them to come back past again, i'd just try get any decent lap in. it turns out i started using quali like a practise session. while i was driving i just felt i still needed to try new i was using different gears in corners, different lines...i did get a decent lap in, i thought it was 18.5 but when i came in it turned out to be 18.9...pole was 16.0....dean ended up on 17.5 (p7)...courtney had some problems with his car, only got 2laps in but got 18.6 (p13) i was pretty disappointed, as i knew it wasnt my full potential at that time. i was sitting p16 on the grid of 19cars....p10 was 1m18.3, so it was a very tight group....if i got 18.5 i wouldve been very happy, but hey its only qual so watever. it was a DAMN long day and was time to go home and rest.

sunday is here. came to the track and was feeling relaxed. i think being far back on the grid, there wasnt much expectation so didnt end up getting nervous. was gonna be a backmarker for the day!! but those that know me will know that i just cant accept being slow - in a freakn computer game tho. i was always trying to figure out where i was losing time...thinking of changing things with the car setup, but i couldnt be sure of how sensitive the changes would be, or if they would be correct at all. i wasnt even sure if i was pushing the car to its limits, nothing was certain. following drivers in the practise sessions, it seemed i was hanging onto them in the infield and oval just fine...maybe those guys i was following were just cruising back to the pits.....or was it only the brakes. but +3sec on brakes alone? didnt seem so, i was confused. losing time on braking is a pretty SHIT place to lose time. especially when u losing lots of it. on downshifts i was revving to just over 7000rpm, which was what others were doing, so cant be that....*shrug* i just accepted that i was slow :/ which was sad lol....

went out into the session, and the car was ALL OVER the place. it rained last nite so maybe there wasnt much grip. i didnt have ANY confidence going into the scary corners, coz those had now become disaster areas, push too hard and was definitely gonna crash....i came in and asked dean - dean nel, not driver dean....ok from now its big dean and little dean lol - yeh so i asked big dean wat the hell, i had no grip :/ he laughed and pointed to my tyres. wat the fuck. surely they cant be that was depressing when i looked at the timesheets. everyone had gone faster. fastest lap was now 15.9, little dean was on 17.3...courtney 18.3, and i drove a rocking 1m19.7...with my 2nd fastest lap a 20.5. OH DEAR. things were rapidly declining, and i didnt know WTF. so i conveyed my WTF sentiments to big dean, yet again, and he says he changed my rear camber. oh thanks for the update dude!!! :P he took camber off, coz i told him i was having bad understeer, so that change would take away understeer. well, it certainly did. undriveable with my tyres i think or the rest of the setup of my car...told him to put more camber, but not as much as i've had previously....we'll see what happens. i was unsure of how the car was gonna handle, didnt wanna change anything else on setup coz i didnt know what would happen, wasnt getting the gears perfect everytime, still felt i wasnt on limit consistently, was now slow enuff to be dead last, and the only remaining sessions were the heats :/

nice situation, zaahir, very nice.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Living the Dream...

ok so its race time.

i live in durban, so its quite difficult for me to keep travelling for the races. thanks to ajt for helping me out with storage and every damn thing u have done for me.....anyway, so i wont be getting any practise going to each race meeting. with my studies i have no time to travel inbetween races just to practise the track, i just gotta rock up there race weekend and figure shit out.

this weekend is the 1st race of the season at wesbank raceway. the itenary is a bit staggered, i think due to overflow of other categories with us at this meeting. practise day was on saturday 10feb, and practise and quali is this saturday 17feb, with the race (two heats) on sunday 18feb. i travelled up from durban and staying the week here in jo'burg so i could make that praccy day and the race too. missing a week of varsity but hey its my 1st race, sacrifices and priorities :P

that practise day was the best day of my life. until this sunday anyway ;) i wasnt nervous at all, just excited. everyday after that zwartkops run of mine, i was get back on track. and the time had come. any thought of crashing the car were gone. i couldnt give a shit anymore, time to trust myself and what i can do. i've seen a bit of an onboard camera shot of wesbank, and it looked quite technical!! its this bit of an oval circuit, with a damn long straight which breaks off into a tight midfield section. there were quite a few fvee guys here this time, getting things set for the race the next week. i wasnt the only noob there, there were 2 other they were 16yr olds, that just come out of karting. they both had a few more outings than me in their cars as well, but i couldnt care, none of us had seen wesbank. their names are dean and courtney.

it came time for the 1st 15min session....some guy offered to show us noobs the racing line for the 1st couple laps. yay, they went off and i was left trying to find 1st gear grrrr...the damn thing was stuck. oh well, who needed to know the racing line anyway. once i got away i put foot down the straight. immediate feeling was that i was gonna get sucked out the car and get thrown into the stands. aerodynamic forces were was logical not to overdo things into the corners....but i soon caught the noob-train. i dont know why that guy was going so slow, he mustve thought we were real idiots....i think dean got pissed off and overtook the "leader" lmao....courtney started moving his ass, i just thought i'd stick behind him, coz he knew more limits of the car than i did, so i would learn anything i was sure......1st couple laps i got annoyed. tried to get 2nd gear but failed i just used 3rd and 4th gear, coz i was definitely damaging that gearbox by trying.....some formula ford guy abandoned his car in the tight stuff, so they red-flagged the session (formula ford guys out with us coz its a 'single seater'session)....i followed courtney into the pit entry....which was highly fuckn confusing. he ended up taking the wrong entry, we ended on the other side of the pits hhahahaha....oh well, we found our way back sumhow.

dean nel (not noob karter dean) was helping me out prepping the car....and thats when i found out why i was grinding the damn gears....he told me i wasnt using heel and toe!!! SHIT....i dreaded that thing...heard abt it, and it sounds fucked. so i decided to stay in 3rd/4th gear while i learned the track. nxt session i pushed hard. i got the right shoes, so my foot wasnt catching on the steering column anymore. i came so close to putting it into the wall a couple times, car just got out of shape going into this one chicane....managed to collect it. tried it again nxt lap and almost threw it off again....3rd lap i managed to get it stable. going into the hairpins i tried some racing lines i'd learned in games....hey i think it worked. the sliding was almost the same to the FormulaBMW mod of rFactor (for any1 who's played that) and felt comfy. almost spun off in the hairpins couple times trying to get that sliding line down, but it felt like a computer game really lol....when i came in, dean said he followed me thru there and learned sum things. so i guess thats simracers 1point, karters 1point? hehe. a private joke for the simracers with momo wheel: i caught a huge slide, and the steering wheel was still pointing straight HAHAHA i had a good laugh abt that in the cockpit. no fps problems either :P

getting that heel-toe thing down was hard. i practised doing it going from 4th to 3rd gear first, coz those dont grind. once i got the feeling, then i tried going into 2nd gear....still not perfect, but i managed to hook it. im def losing seconds in the braking zones coz of this, i'll hafta get used to it laptimes, i had nobody to time me. championship winner alan holm rocked the track in 1m16.9......dean ended up on 18.5 and courtney 19.3 or something....i mustve been 21's, who knows. i'll see with official timing this weekend. but i was really pushing, and felt comfortable catching the car when shit got out of was fun to push, i had other drivers to gauge myself against, and that whole zwartkops thing was just pansy. im liking that oval bit, every1 seems scared of that thing, coz if u lose it there then theres no coming back....its just concrete wall.

in the 4th and final session, it started to rain. oohhh my eyes lit up :D i tell u, i've never had so much fun that day and looked like it was only getting better....raindrops streaming off ur visor, car was sliding everywhere. car has natural understeer already, and in the wet its just terrible....then u put the power and it tries to swap what a challenge, i loved it. every1 else was just cruising, i guess they didnt wanna crash....i felt comfy on that "limit" (im sure i wasnt going that fast)...things dried out quickly tho :( i found some guy my pace who i was trying to race. it was very cool, i gained on him in that infield bit, but every 2nd gear braking zone he gained a lot....i just suck at that heel-toe shit lol...down the straight i felt slipstream for the 1st time. not that satisfying, coz i think he had more power than me...i hadta stick in his slipstream just to keep up!! but after 3laps i got my 1st overtaking move ever ahahhahaha....into the 1st corner...after which i noticed his wheel was wobbly :/ i tried to wave him down, but he kept pushing....after 2laps the thing just shredded and his wheel was totalled....shame man.

the next day i could barely walk. i was so bruised and exhausted.....ah felt good.

ok so i gotta learn to stop talking so much. this is way too long geez....but i havnt really talked abt much :/ race coming sunday, i CANT WAIT. i wanna practise a few different lines, get heel-toe better, try some car setup, and just generally have FUN :D wont have new tyres like every1 else, but its ok. i am so amped to push my fucking arse off. really. the time has come...

First post, first experience

elo der.

okee so the blog diary thingy has begun. my name's zaahir, and thought i'd wanna start thinking aloud hehe. yay :/

aweh so i'm 22, a mechanical engineering student at university of kzn, and i enjoy listening to and playing music (guitar), drawing, art, and MOTORSPORT. i luuuv racing, is the only thing worth loving without ending up getting hurt :P emotionally, anyway. starting this blog mainly for racing...for now.

i have been quenching that thirst by playing computer games: sim-racing. this year i have finally scraped JUST enuff cash 2 get my real racing going. starting formula vee, openwheeler/single seater formula existing to be affordable compared to other formulae, and i've been very lucky to meet and mix with the right people in fvee, as i wouldnt have been able to afford certain things and entire races of the season...but that now looks possible. thanks anthony ;) i'm definitely not starting to make a career out of this, logistics and my age make that impossible; im saying this coz i keep getting asked when im getting to formula1 HAHAHHAA....idiots.

the only experience i do have is computer games. that is some computer programmer who fudged some code to make u THINK it handles like real life. is it like real life at all? of course not. i have not done competitive karting (rentals dont count!!) or any competition race car driving, so am i at a disadvantage.....? geez i hate it when i get asked how many races i've won. WTF i havnt even started yet LOL and it will take a LOT of money, experience, a better car, and most probably a lot more skill than i have right now to pull off anything CLOSE to a win :/

okay. so 1st time in a race car. december 2006. fuck i was nervous. i was just scared of crashing the thing, anything i'd learned in games was probably fake, how could i trust any feelings i've developed with that. sure it may be similar, but its gotta be exact if you want to make it out the 1st corner of zwartkops alive while pushing hard. the 1st feeling was just incredible happiness. God knows how long i've been waiting for this moment, the acceleration is incredible, the beating ur body takes is just cool. when u're done battered and bruised, u get a sense of accomplishment. ehhhh after the raw feelings of driving this single seater around, i started to think abt sliding the car, getting my clutch/gear shifting smooth, just generally getting to know my new pablo honey. i definitely wasnt pushing hard at all, i cannot afford ANY repairs at the moment. so i looked like a total NOOB just crawling around the track. meh, who cares. i didnt crash hehehe.....struggled to get 2nd gear, in fact didnt get it at all. its a 4-speed beetle gearbox, i'm way too tall for the car (took the seat out, sat on the floor and fuel tank so i could drive the thing) so i thought my leg was getting in the way while trying to select 2nd gear. the 2nd corner of zwartkops is a hairpin, so u need 2nd gear for that corner....the fucking thing was just grinding, ended up going thru there in neutral everytime :P i was the only fvee driver there at this track day, so i didnt have anybody to consult about the probem....but watever, i had other things to learn abt the car still. i wasnt confident at driving at high speeds and on the limit. i certainly dont do this sort of thing on public roads. so, 1point to karters, 0points to simracers.

i only managed to get out for 2x15min sessions, so there was not much i could learn. especially with the mentality that i needed to NOT CRASH. in every braking zone i couldnt be on the limit, coz my shoes were too big, my foot kept catching on the steering column when moving from acc pedal to brake pedal....not cool. eehhh but zwartkops is a nice track!!! 1st corner is scary. 2nd corner is a bitch (coz that DAMN 2nd gear), the sweep is just a thing to get you to 200kph (apparently), 3rd corner takes a bit of bravery coz not much of a braking zone. the rest of the track was tight stuff, is the only place i felt confident to throw the car around to see what would happen.....i ended up on 1m16.0 i think it was, which is pretty disgusting. the lap record is 1m10.1.....but considering i was taking the 2nd corner in neutral, chilling out in all the braking zones and fast didnt seem SO bad. my aim should be to get 2-3sec from the leaders i PRAY. oldish car, old tyres, and im a total noob. so the day was just a basic "get to know the car" and "seal the deal" as i was testing it to see if i wanted to buy it. it is a good solid car, it is not a race winner right now for sure, but will get me going.