Monday, January 1, 2018

New beginnings, thoughts for 2017 and what lies ahead in 2018

I faced significant challenges in 2017 for my setup just as I did in 2016 however on a totally different magnitude and I'm not sure I would have done what I did should I had known the ramifications. Juggling my personal life and career was already tough with the car in its previous incarnation but the plans I had to transform the car necessitated sleepless nights and constant monitoring. This was clearly required much more of my attention and time so I am relieved I am past that stage.

Probably a good idea to get a tune done after so many years!

In summary, a rebuild of the worn and torn parts of the car was done, most of the car's performance was given a new lease of life in order to give me the best possible start to the goals I had set myself for the years ahead.
And what a start it was!

I had spent what seemed like an eternity away from the track and has totally lost touch with braking / acceleration points and but the support from my partnering companies had given me the ability to be able to hustle in just one hot lap that eventually counted for the win at MegaLap Round 2 2017.

A massive delay at the checkpoints, a Malaysian police stop that almost resulted in a fine (no idea how I wriggled out of that one haha!) and slow traffice conditions meant I arrived at the track way later than I had expected. The blur of action that ensued when I eventually reached Sepang Circuit involved setting my car's pressures and suspension for the track, registering for the event, getting safety equipment on and clearing the car before my class was due to run. MegaLap is one of the supporting events in the MSF Racing program which was crafted by Adian Yein and the organisation is absolutely top notch with the best emphasis on track safety and class regulation that other organisers can only hope to replicate so I was in good hands despite my travel issues.

Queuing up is a Singaporean obsession

Sitting in the car with a flustered mind, I had hardly a moment to reflect before the marshals of MegaLap began waving participants into the lineup. More than a year's absence meant plenty of the memory that helped me around the track was lost, I had to quickly pick up the new character of the new setup which would be a challenge for a relatively slow learner like myself and above all I had to manage a winning lap while staying out of traffic or trouble.

After a warm up lap to heat the tyres, I tried to get going but much to my embarrassment ended up doing a nice 180 at the exit of T15 at the end of my first hot lap thereby wasting the entire lap. It became apparent how rusty I was as I began to relearn the track while avoiding overenthusiastic competitors sharing the track with me who had managed to spin in front of me.
Snapped by a friend who had come to spectate, nicely timed shot Ken!

The car felt good but the water and oil temperatures started to climb higher than I had expected them and with my limited experience of this new setup, I had no choice but to limit the revs I could use to err on the side of caution. The blazing hot ambient and track temperatures could be a reason this was so but there was no real way for me isolate that is the sole reason. The Qstarz LapTimer showed me I had done a 2:38 and although this was not a great time, I had hoped the second session for my class would allow me cooler temperatures so I could eke out a better timing.
Live timing site was able to give real time updates

After some food I decided to take a walk to check out the cars competing in MegaLap as one of the big attractions for me as a particpant has always been the diversity of rides competing in their individual classes. Malaysian enthusiasts are a friendly bunch and I saw more than a few familiar friendly faces while being engaged with conversation with a few curious folks checking out my car.
Chilling the pits while resting

This Ex WTAC Evo looked insane!

NA RWD Street Class competition

Other classes were very diverse and there were plenty of other gems outside the track


Soon enough it was time for round 2 my allotted runs for my class and I got taught a lesson for my utter lack of preparation by way of a stumble due to the lack of fuel! In my haste, I was not able to get a full tank of fuel before getting to the track and this meant that I was running less than half tank by the time I was heading out for my second hot lap. The first sign of this came at the upslope at Turn 9 when the engine stumbled and I slowed down to try to see if it was anything else like the engine pulling ignition from knock. I tried to string together a lap more gently but it soon became a bit more common and I decided to err on the side of caution and end my run early. The cooler weather did not significantly alter the trouble I was having in terms of managing rising engine temperature so I would have to be content with the best laptime of the first run.
In the office busy busy

Overall standings looked like this

After getting back to Singapore, there was some soul searching to be done if I wanted to break my own personal records and hit the targets I had set for myself in the coming year. Outside of the poor prep which had cost me dearly as my pressures and damping settings were NOT right, these points stood out as what I needed to address:

1. Seat time was a priority. I really needed to get the hours down to get comfortable driving at the new limits.

2. A back to basics plan to identify my new brake and acceleration points would be critical and I intend to seek some form of coaching to unlearn my poor habits.

3. Resolving the issue of heat so I could consistently lean on the engine without being forced to limit revs which is less than ideal. This is on the way to be worked on and should be done before my next event.

4. Some areas in the handling departments were a step in the wrong direction owing to my over reliance on the conventional wisdom but its clear now how flawed that has been. If I had trusted my own feel for how far the balance was changed, I might have done way better.
OEM paint looking nice and shiny in the sun, great pic by

I am absolutely astounded by the support I have received in my journey in 2017 from my main supporting partners who have believed in me and kept their trust in me through this long arduous evolution that I have undergone. During conversations at the year end, we realigned our goals and I'm thrilled to say we have a superb 2018 to look forward to. This win is for all of you!

Some might question what exactly the vision for 2018 holds and here's a little sneak peek into what lies ahead for my dear readers. New partnerships to raise my setup to a vastly improved envelope of performance in my quest to reset the limits of what we think is possible for the S chassis, a thorough look at what I as a driver require to operate or maintain the car and plenty more racing in store so keep me on your favorites tab!

Thanks to the following who made this possible:
Achilles Radial for the strong support
LTM Performance for all work done on the car to prep it for the track
Thian Seng Motors for all OEM Honda parts keeping my ride going
Ardeca Lubricants Singapore for the Pure Sports engine oil keeping the engine well protected
MegaLap for the fantastic event, fantastic work by Adian and his team plus use of the pics
BecauseRC for the use of the pic

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