Monday, March 26, 2007

Race2 - Kyalami - [Part2 - Saturday]

Right. Saturday is here and its qualifying for the 1st I really had to be mentally prepared before I went out for this one. Which I think I was! I got my mind in order, had some things to try out as I still don't know the circuit enough to be fully on the limit....

So I went out and started to try different gears for some corners, and 2nd gear was still giving me grief as normal. Tyres and brakes were a bit cold, so no laptime would come of these experimental laps anyway....but woah when I got to the last corner, there was an oil flag being shown. I could see some water across the track.....and HOLY CRAP the car got unsteady through there, was shocking :P After the session we learned it was anti-freeze, so no wonder it was so slippy. Anyway, some of the top guys came up behind me, so I had to let them through which made me lose time always....I needed to put a good lap in sometime soon. Symm Grobler came past me, and thats when I decided to go....he is usually one of the top drivers on the grid...he was about 1 second ahead of me. I felt I could follow him nicely throughout the fact....I thought I was gaining on him!! But then the chicane came along and I missed 2nd gear...had to quickly punch it into 3rd gear, but lost a lot of time and watched Symm pull away....I got through the anti-freeze okay, but lost time as I'm sure everyone else did. I wanted to try somehow to keep up with Symm who was a bit in the distance....I had an unbelievable first few corners, it was really on the limit. But then a freakn red flag came out :/ John Lerm crashed at Sunset corner, and that was scary. Drove past and saw he'd hit the notorious inside wall....his car was totally wrecked....let alone my awesome lap :P

Came back in the pits and went to see what laptimes I had done, and to gauge where exactly I was on pace, as nobody had timed me on Friday. It turns out I qualified 10th with a 2m01.4...ahead of me was Courtney with 2m01.2. Pole time was 1m58.4....and what was funny was seeing Symm Grobler in 5th position with a 1m59.9.....hehhehheh his fastest lap was the one where I was gaining on him slightly. Things looked good ;) Come on you piece of shit 2nd gear....

Between sessions, big Dean and I sort of figured out my 2nd gear issues....the linkage was slightly loose at the back. We tightened it up a bit, and hoped it would make it better. It was such a long wait to the race....the programme was delayed by at least an hour, and nobody even knew if we were going to even get the 2nd heat in!!! An hour later meant it would be run in the dark :P The 1st heat was reduced by the race was only 7laps :/ It's disappointing that there's so few laps in Formula Vee races, but that's how it goes.

I felt confident about the race. Courtney and I decided to not fight each other....we wanted to work together to catch the group ahead of us, who had qualified on this race would be interesting!! The start came up to the right grid slot (yay) which was on the inside. Lights went out and I thought I had a decent start....well, that was until 2 guys came flying past me!!! I backed off a bit for the 1st couple corners, as I didn't feel like crashing. Shouldn't have done that, lost more places :/ There was some tangling in T3, and Gert van den Berg spun round...others were involved, so managed to get a couple places...Courtney was behind me (he had a bad start) and slipstreamed me before Sunset corner...I tried to hold it around the outside, but errrr that didn't work out very well. I oversteered so badly on the marbles, I thought I was going to fly off and crash :/ But I held it together by some miracle, with nobody else hitting me. The rest of the 1st lap was decent, but thinking back to it, my mindset was all wrong. I wanted to stay a couple car lengths behind the guy in front of me, to get comfy with the car...NO!!!! I should be racing these guys, c'mon...but I was getting 2nd gear now, and that was good.

But somehow things were not working out for me....some driver had a problem I think going into the hairpin, and I got held up which allowed Johan Gouws past me. GAARRGH I got held up by him for a few laps :/ Could not find a way past...finally I got a better run coming out of T3, and nailed him into Sunset. I immediately pulled a gap on him, but started getting gear issues again. Began to get frustrated and even wasn't changing gears cleanly, pushing the clutch only halfway and going across start/finish in neutral....stupid shit like that. It started to get a bit of a nightmare. Wow but had some scary moments....some guy spun ahead of me coming out of T2...the dude didn't know which way he wanted to slide. He was all over the place, and I just didn't know which direction to choose to avoid him :/ Thought I was going to hit him but managed to get passed okay....wanted to start catching the guys ahead, but wasn't driving well at all. Without knowing it, I was overdriving the car. Going into T3 I went in waayyy too hot....was well sideways, and by the time I caught it, I was already into the gravel. Took a nice trip bouncing along in the litter, cursing and screaming and watching Gouws drive back past....I just gave up.

Got back on track and just cruised to the finish basically, since it was the last couple laps remaining....there was nobody near me in front, so no hope of catching. My issues with 2nd gear creeped in again, and just wanted to get it sorted for the 2nd race. Looking at the timesheets, I finished in P13 :( Quite disappointing...I managed 2m01.6, but wasn't sure how, as that was the lap I overtook Johan Gouws into Sunset, and I'm sure I missed a gear on that lap. Yet again, disappointed by my 1st heat like I was at Wesbank Raceway.

Since most of the categories races were shortened, and some were even combined, we managed to get a 2nd heat in the dying light. I smiled between sessions. I knew where I had gone wrong, it was all mental. This time I was confident for the 2nd race, and was focused on the job ahead. Big Dean did some last minute fixes on the linkage at the back, and it clamped better. Man, I hope it holds....

Starting from P13 wasn't ideal. There were some slow drivers ahead of me, and wanted to get past them as soon as I could....but let's concentrate on race start first, shall we :P I felt I was too tame in the 1st race, so I got into an aggressive mindset. Starting on the outside now, and I got a decent start again. A bit of wheelspin, and some drivers behind were putting pressure on me. But into T1 I just went flat out :P Kept it around the outside, so I was on inside for T2 and worked out okay. Someone had gone off in front, there was just dust everywhere. I was in that aggressive mode, but knew I had to calm it down. Was definitely overdriving the car in the 1st race, but now I was hooking up the corners nicely, and getting 2nd gear well. I was much much quicker than the guys in front of me going into the scary corners. Before the race I told Anthony Taylor that I had tried to take Sunset flat out (which didn't really work eehhehe)...he just stared back at me wide-eyed....I guess it's not quite the thing to try :P So the drivers in the pack I was in were even braking for Sunset, and I was just tapping off. Got a great run on them going into the next corner (Clubhouse), and kept the extra speed to outbrake them.

I had some absolutely unreal battles with guys....wheel-to-wheel isn't even the word hehhe, it was just crazy stuff going on. This is even crazier with the knowledge that if I flip the car, I will probably die hehehe seeing as I have very little head clearance to my roll-over bar. But it worked out okay. Missed 2nd gear going into the chicane (just because I didn't blip the throttle enough) which allowed the guy behind me to get a run into the final corner. I defended quite hard, but he stayed on the inside none-the-less: I was dealing with an aggressive dude. Okay, nice. So I kept on him coming out the last corner and got a run into him going into T1. This is no place for messing around side-by-side, but I was going for it anyway, screw it :) went around the outside of him into T1 flat this moment my life flashed before my eyes :P we both went wheel-to-wheel through T1 and T2, the scariest corners on the track. By far the coolest moment of my racing "career" lol....I think I pissed him off with that though, as he just divebombed me going into T3. SCREW THIS GUY, I really needed to be battling with the guys ahead for God's sake. Some other driver took advantage and followed him through T3 while I was vulnerable around the outside :/ Managed to destroy them into Sunset and Clubhouse as usual, so that worked out :)

Had to now catch the guys ahead with only a couple laps remaining. I pushed hard, the group in front were 4 drivers, including Courtney....on the last lap I managed to catch them, and things got real interesting. Courtney was busy sliding around in front of me in places I couldn't take advantage of :/ It got to the final few corners, I was definitely going to divebomb someone, it just had to happen :P It turned out Johan Gouws missed a gear coming out of the bottom of the everyone was scrapping into the chicane. Was going to line up whoever was ahead of me to divebomb into the last corner, but Johan was already going to do that on me :P Screewww that, I kept it around the outside and punched out the corner nicely. We were running side-by-side driving to the finish line....I shifted to 3rd gear a little earlier, and he jumped slightly in front. Then he shifted and was his turn to drop back a bit. I wasn't even looking ahead, was just watching him and smiling as we crossed the finish line together :D It was anyone's guess who got it, it all depended on where his transponder was placed relative to mine!!!

Checked the timesheets....Johan and I registered exactly the same time....but had me ahead ahahhahha :D finished P11, but it should have been P9 if I hadn't been dicing so long with those other two early on in my race. Yeeeeee but this race was a thousand times better than I had at Wesbank :) Such a crazy track, and some awesome action with guys going into mad fast corners....I thought I would have got a 1m59 in this race, as the gears were fine and I felt I was pushing. But my FL was only a 2m01.0 :/ I was highly confused about quali I did 2m01.4, and that was with a missed gear and the anti-freeze last corner....very very odd. Courtney's FL was a 2m01.8.

Thinking about it afterwards, I think I really need to follow someone faster than me to get me going. When I was driving alone, I thought I was going fast, but in reality I wasn't :/ So that's nice, I feel I'm learning things as I'm going along. Of course I'd be learning things, it's only my 2nd race meeting, but I mean I'm conscious of the things I have to improve. I'm just glad I have an awesome car under me. Knowing how good new tyres actually are, I could have been running really well at Wesbank at Kyalami though, it's left me with a bit of head scratching :/ I'm 2.7 seconds down on the fastest lap, but I really think I should have been 1.5 seconds down (at the worst) instead. Have to improve next time, but I think I know what to do...

The next race is at East London in a couple months....the old F1 Grand Prix circuit :) The F1 guys used to race there before they moved to, this will be enjoyable to say the least :) One of the corners includes the notorious Potter's Pass. I've heard about it, I've seen it, I haven't even driven it yet and I'm already scared :/ Here we go again Zaahir...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Race2 - Kyalami - [Part1 - Friday]

I slept nicely that Thursday evening. I felt I really got nicely focused for what to do, and seemed pretty calm going to the track. Just tried to keep focusing and to not get nervous. What did get me a little nervous was how wet the roads had obviously rained early morning, and was drizzling a bit on the way there.....sure it’s fun and everything being on a wet track, but let me learn the track first :P Oh and the Johannesburg traffic pissed me off a bit :P I ended up getting to the track on time though! Can’t afford to miss a session when I only have 3...

Getting to the pits, it was nice seeing my baby again :) With new tyres and rear shock fixed, as well as new brake pads. But greeting big Dean wasn’t very nice....he told me I had a misfire, soooo that sucked. There was no time to fix it for 1st session, so I’d just have to go out and learn the track a bit and get everything warmed up anyway. Took a look at Courtney’s car which made me jealous :P He has a TOTAL REBUILD of the car. Basically everything was new. Everything. He had a freakn new car there hehehe....wouldn’t mind swapping…

Before heading into the 1st session, I wanted to find out from guys what gear to be in for which corner, what to watch out for, etc. But the session came too quick and had to go learn it myself. Anyway, big Dean told me to just chill out and bed in brakes and tyres, plus the track was pretty green from the rain, so there was no way I could push from the outset. The rFactor computer game on Kyalami was my only hope LOL....driving out on track made me smile....and made me a bit surprised too. Smiling ‘coz hell, I was driving on Kyalami for God’s sake....but surprised ‘coz the track seemed quite small and’s quite big compared to Wesbank, but quite smaller than I’m used to with rFactor. Gradient changes seem a lot more noticeable as well, and there’s bumps in the rF Kyalami that just aren’t there on the real surface :P Quite odd....anyway I drove around with my foot on brake pedal occasionally, to just get the brake pads bedded in. The engine misfire was quite bad, so I had no power anywhere. But it felt good to drive around on the track, been waiting so long for this moment :) Attempted my notorious 2nd gear downshifting, and it was bad as usual hehehe. But it wasn’t grinding, 2nd gear was just difficult to select, felt very hard. Session was over pretty quickly, I think I only got 3 or 4 laps in....and they were useless laps, so nothing to learn really.

Second session went okay. I could start to push now, and try figure out the was basically dry now. Misfire was sorted out inbetween sessions, so I had power again. I’ll try to briefly describe the differences of the real track to the rFactor one. There are some real scary corners on this circuit :/ and quite a few 2nd gear corners, so that sucks :P Anyway, the first 2 corners of the track are hella scary. There’s no way I’m trying taking that 2nd corner flat out (some other FVee driver said he was)....that thing is SO tight...and you are really travelling at quite a speed. Turn3 is real tricky too, I didn’t know whether to shift to 3rd gear before the initial kink, or cruise into there in 4th and downshift after that....either way, that corner is real scary, and damn tricky. Sunset corner (turn4) is so cool. I thought that would scare me, but it’s just so much fun. New tyres ROCK by the way, I have a lot less understeer! Can’t quite take sunset flat out, I tried once and the back-end started stepping out (scary). The Esses are pretty cool too...nice gradient changes, and you really throw the car into there. Wesbank hairpin is bloody weird :/ It’s nothing like the rF Kyalami, the line is quite odd and different, and seems so much narrower. My arms started to hurt going through here...getting 2nd gear for this corner is a bitch too, ‘coz I’m busy concentrating on getting 2nd, and the line and speed is so important, so that ends up getting messed. Was still struggling with engaging gear, the damn thing just wouldn’t go for Mineshaft corner....the run down to there is quite a steep downhill!!! I was amazed, as you can’t really feel this in rFactor. Taking Mineshaft flat out is quite some concentration :P back-end always wants to step out, but you keep it going and stay sensitive to the steering wheel. On the brakes at the bottom of mineshaft isn’t very fun, car shudders quite badly – but not as bad as it was back at Wesbank Raceway. The chicane/kink thing is a bit of a joke. Being a 2nd gear corner, it sucked already...but it’s so small and stupid. It’s much flatter than what it is in the computer game, but the kerbs are high, so you can’t ride anything there. Going into the last corner there aren’t those bad bumps you get in the game either, it’s pretty smooth. The only noticeable bumps on the track are in the Esses....your arms really get mushed around when the feedback comes through the steering wheel!

I felt the session went okay. There were some corners which I still needed to learn fully, but it just felt great to push on such a circuit.....WOW :) Didn’t know laptimes yet, I am alone here at the, no pictures or video either :( MAJOR bummer. Anyway, I didn’t need to know laptimes...when I’m on the limit then only I’d like to know where I’m losing time. Right now I know I’m losing time everywhere hehehe....fastest lap of the session was 1m58.3 I think by Peter Hills. I’ll see if I can get within 5 seconds of that?? The track is tricky, most corners are not straight forward...and I’d imagine there is so much time to gain in all of them. This is why to me 5 seconds is not a lot :( Hope I can learn more in the 3rd session.

And no, I didn’t :/ This session was pretty crap. I asked around for some tips with some of the tricky corners and gear changes....had some things to try out! Oh it appears I may have gearbox issues according to big Dean....would make sense why hooking 2nd gear is such a bitch. May have to rebuild the gearbox for next race, but nothing I can do now. Anyway, the 3rd session was a pain....I couldn’t get a clean lap in, always someone ahead of me, or slowing down, or some shit. I tried experimenting a bit with the corners I wasn’t sure of….but nothing seemed to work. I’m also still scared of that 2nd corner :P and a couple other places.

And just like that my practice was over. I really feel I need quite a few more laps to sort things out. This weekend is too short :( All that is left tomorrow is qualifying and the races!!!! I don’t even know what laptimes I’m doing, or totally comfy with the track. I’ll get some laptimes in qualifying tomorrow now that I have my transponder....but that’s a bit late isn’t it? :P The weekend is going too quickly, I hope I end up hooking things up and enjoying myself.....and I REALLY hope I’m not that slow. Even though the car feels real good, I feel I’m going to perform worse than at Wesbank....just need more practice.

We’ll see how it goes. Right now I need sleep :) And grow some balls. Being a pussy through some corners is just not on.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Sooooooo many times now I've been asked the question....why? Plain and other other words to the sentence....just...."Why?"

In discussions with people, they think it's cool I've started racing, blah blah blah. But when they find out I spend so much money on it, and dont get paid if I win a race, or any return at all for that matter.....then there's a 10 second pause, with the most priceless look on their faces.....and then comes the question.

Well, what the hell? Do you people out there not have dreams? Wild wacky dreams, things you'd love to just fulfill. Do these things remain dreams your whole life? "Man I'd love to go to the north pole to check if Santa's there......or walk the entire Great Wall of China".....well go and do it then. Not the greatest of examples, those are more of a once-off type thing. Track racing is my passion, and I want it to be involved in my daily life as much as possible :P I am LIVING THE DREAM. Just 3 words is all that you need to know. Whatever you've been wanting to do all your life, and when you finally get down to doing's called.....LIVING THE DREAM. So, that's why. If you don't have a dream then you will just not understand and I'm sorry :P

(If u want to go to the moon, well then, I don't have a suggestion for that as yet)

Kyalami Update:
I'm leaving this week to go to the track. Driving up to Jo'burg on Thursday 'coz I can't afford flights and renting a car....looked at the schedule for Kyalami, and I am pretty screwed. I have got a total of 3 separate practise sessions (15min each) to get to know the track on the limit before the races. Let's leave one session out for just warming up the car, getting tyres bedded in, I have a grand total of two sessions to get my groove on. Errrrr.....this is Kyalami, not some mickey mouse crap. To get on the limit without crashing will take me more than 2 sessions.....I'm definitely not that good enough :P So, I'll just have to see what happens I guess, but most probably my performance will be a lot worse than what I had at Wesbank :( What a terrible realisation.....but the weekend isn't here yet, so take what comes.....


Monday, March 12, 2007

Kyalami Soon...

Oohhhh yes.

Kyalami. Home of South African racing. The history behind it....and MAN what a track....looks hella fast. Race is in 2 weeks....and I'm feeling generally uneasy hehehe...I know where the corners go, played it in a computer game, but I know that means nothing. Plus the race meeting has minimal practise sessions, just 'coz Kyalami is so damn expensive to I won't have much practise, I'll really have to figure this one out FAST. But what's good is that I know what the car should feel like.


I managed to get new tyres. So that will change the handling won't it :D Begged, borrowed and stole money (I really need sponsors lol), I have a set of new boots on my car!!!! As well as new brake pads (yay) and some other major maintenance on the car that should make handling better. So it will be a different car, but surely it'll be faster...

Anyway I need all I can get for this race. Not much practise, so car has to be prim and proper. The difficulty level of this compared to Wesbank is probably double, as well as being almost double the length. So if i can be around the same place in the pack as i was at Wesbank, I definitely think i would have improved a lot. If that makes any sense :/

We'll see what happens. I'm counting the days.....and don't want to expect too much otherwise I'd end up disappointed. but I'll be racing on the Kyalami. How could I get disappointed?

Running Kyalami with a similar mod to FVee in the game rFactor...

Monday, March 5, 2007

Lap of Wesbank Raceway

just so i remember it.

crossing the start/finish u approach 200kph. watch the 200m board flash past and get ur mind set for the whole braking thing. the 150m mark is a pole with the red flag on it....slam brakes as u flash past it, almost instantly downshifting to 3rd gear. car begins dancing around, and u gotta make slight wheel corrections. under braking i couldnt see much, with the vibrations of the car my head just got thundered around. heel-toe and hook 2nd gear....keep the revs up since the 1st corner is not tight enuff for 2nd gear and too tight for 3rd.

up over the crest and change up to 3rd gear. keep it flat out and smooth thru the next left hander. just after u exit the corner the engine should be screaming for an upshift...change to 4th.

wait till u start to pass the dotted white lines and brake for the left hander hairpin (turn3). since u havnt reached anywhere near top speed, downshift instantly to 3rd gear....feel like u running straight off track, hook 2nd gear and then only turn in for the corner - extremely late apex.

exit that hairpin and set yourself up for the right hand hairpin of turn4. between the hairpins its too much of a bitch to shift up to 3rd gear and then downshift again. watch the revs and maintain just over 7100rpm...entry line is in the middle of the track since u're already down a gear and minimising chance of sum1 diving down the inside. dont brake for this corner....and barely lift off the throttle either.

here comes the 1st fun bit. exit turn4 but dont use all the road....u need to set urself up for turn5/6/7...get into the left kink as far left as possible and shift up to 3rd gear....still turning left even onto the escape road...then pick a turn-in point for be taken flat out u may have to use a bit of dust. turn7 is just a corner to gather urself from turn6, still flat out but dancing over the exit kerbs. ur body gets pretty banged up here with the quick direction changes

hectic entry into turn8 (left hander)...dont shift up to 4th gear and let her scream....the bumps will unsettle the car big time here, but just keep it straight...brake just after the gravel patch on the right and try turn in late, but quickly straighten up...keeping to the left. the entry into the next chicane is a bit further ahead, so even accelerate again before braking for the chicane

try take the chicane late, but cut it a bit so u bounce a bit on the dust and hop over the kerb basically....if u hit the kerb the wheel just flies in the air and car gets unsettled...2nd part of the chicane is pretty dusty, lots of cars running wide here and bringing dust onto the circuit....keep 3rd gear heading up onto the oval

the oval u enter flat out and stay high.....not too high, about 2/3rd's the way up....i have to lift off a little here, to get the car turned in a its freakn scary coz if u lose it here its pretty much game over with that concrete wall next to u. on new tyres the legend is that they take this flat out :/ this is where u start feeling ur arms ache...this left hander puts the most strain on ye body....touch the white line (which u not allowed to cross as its pit entry) and before u think u can really accelerate out, thats when u accelerate :P watch the barriers come closer closer closer but keep flat out.

shift to 4th gear and negotiate that little exit kink which leads back onto the main straight. cross the start/finish line.....lap record in a formula vee here is 1m15.7