Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grassroots motorsports at Johor Circuit @ Pasir Gudang, back after years of absence!

Seeing how the start of the year had been way too busy for me to catch some seat time at the track, i decided to take the opportunity to tag on to the PG Trackies track day at Johor Circuit at Pasir Gudang. Many of my long time car buddies were attending this weekday track and with the low traffic expected, I was pretty sure this would be a really fun event!

With the excellent turnout, here's a pic of the pits with all the cars being prepped and enthusiasts raring to go...

In some ways, Johor Circuit has always been to me the spiritual home of grassroots motorsports for Singaporean trackies. I fondly remember my first outings here with my S2000 and even the joyrides given by experienced trackies in their cars (once in an Integra Type R and another being a passenger to a drift lap by Denis Lian in his Evolution 7). With the cosy pit setup, the trackies always mingle around and I never fail to make new friends at every outing to Johor Circuit.

Here is my ride all prepped in the pits.


Qstarz dataloggers were available for rent to help do real time logging of lap times

With a quick safety brief done by the committee members of PG trackies, I began to prep my car for the track and lowered the pressures on my year old Achilles 123S. Considering how the rough track surface of Johor Circuit literally demolishes tyres, the reasonable pricing of 123S combined with the excellent grip of the tyre provides a powerful incentive for me to use this as my daily driver cum track day tyre.

Have a look at my Achilles 123S before the tyre shredding laps, looking good for a year's worth of road usage plus a Sepang track session no?

As it has been more than 4 years since my last visit to Johor Circuit, I was honestly quite lost on the circuit and had to spend some time figuring out which gear to use, what speeds to enter and when to brake. Compounding those complexities was the fact that my suspension was now extremely stiff and had a short stroke which meant I was constantly skipping and hopping through the undulations and extremely bumpy surface. That extra torture on the tyres meant that the tyre pressure ran about 4 psi higher than I realized and I only realized the lack of grip later about two thirds of the way through the session when i got down to checking my tyre pressure. I had assumed the tyre pressure would be similar to what I faced at Sepang but I guess I shouldn't have taken that for granted!

Here are are some of the awesome rides at Pasir Gudang and shots of my car :)

My unfamiliarity of the track constantly caused me to be in the wrong gear for many of the elevations of the circuit and for a low torque car like mine, that was critical for me to achieve good lap times. Knowing that the runoff area for the circuit was actually very small meant that I definitely took far less liberties than I usually did in terms of cornering abilities. There were two casualities for that track day and both ended up rather beaten up after wall collisions which reminded me to moderate my driving and stick to a more conservative pace than I would have liked in the interest of safety. At the end of the day, the most important was for me to get some proper practice time behind to wheel to keep current with my car's handling behaviour.

More pics of the cars at full attack on the track!

After the open track session ended, it was time for the Turbo cars to line up for their Turbo class CCT (Closed Circuit Trial). The attendance was a full Subaru WRX line up which made for a bellowing boxer beat from start to finish!

Here's two Turbo class CCT clip, hear that boxer roar!

It was an all Subaru battle!

Towards the end of the session, I decided to join the NA (Normally Aspirated) CCT for a bit of wheel to wheel racing over 5 laps. The other participants included a Honda Civic Type R, a Suzuki Ignis Sport, a Subaru TS and a Civic EK4. Coming late to the lineup, I lined up last but decided to do a rocket start launch to try to sneak my way in between the participants.

Check out this video for the battle that ensued...

NA CCT pics!

I ended up with 2nd place for the CCT behind the Honda Civic Type R helmed by my friend Isaac but it was all good clean fun and I could tell there were some issues with my car besides the lack of track familiarity. For starters, I could have softened my suspension to match the track better as the hopping around really delayed me being able to put the throttle down early. My alignment seemed to be off leading to instability on elevations mixed with cornering which I later found to be poorly done alignment by the earlier alignment shop which made my camber settings off and toe settings uneven by more than 2 degrees! I was also noticing a lack of power in the engine as on the straights I felt the engine straining really hard to catch up to Isaac even though I was trying to draft him (I later realized where the issue lay but thats for my next blog post so stay tuned!).

Notwithstanding all the challenges, I really enjoyed the trackday and would like to thank PG Trackies for making it happen and doing the hard work organising the event. The friendship and fellowship in the PG Trackies group extends outside of the track so I'd give a huge thumbs up to this totally inclusive group that brings together the love of the cars to all members.

Here's a video with a overview of the whole day for your enjoyment and I look forward to my next outing to Johor Circuit! :)

One huge happy tracking family...

See you all again at the track! :)

Credits to:
PG Trackies for this event
Alan Tay for his pics
Jon Bai for his video of Turbo CCT
Bryan for his video of Turbo CCT
Keith Ng for his video of NA CCT
Jason 'Zender"for his video of NA CCT
Jerry and Kelvin for their pics
AJ Adeel for video of PG Trackies outing to Johor Circuit overview