Thanks to all those newbie drivers, I got 3rd in RWD class in Saturday Night Fever. Not because I drove faster, but because of all the accidents they have caused, the race dragged late till over 1am. The better drivers in my class probably didn’t take a nice afternoon nap like I did. They went home. I persisted.
With about about 120 cars participating, it’s the most exciting Saturday Night Fever race yet, but it also suffers the same problem as crowded track days do — accidents. In 2 separate cases, 2 cars overturned. Fortunately, no injury was reported. In another, a Scirocco kissed the tail of a Renault R250 and sent it spinning off track when exiting Turn 2. I was right behind them witnessing the entire incident. It really shouldn’t have happened. We weren’t very fast in the corners at all. I think it’s the Scirocco’s fault for misjudging. And that’s the scariest thing in events like these — the hot-headed, over-confident newbies. The R250 did nothing wrong. Luck had it a less-skilled driver was tailing him too closely.
I suggest the organizer put gigantic “P” stickers on newbies. Label them, so that we can run like mad when they get close. Or we make a bumper-car category. Pool all newbies in the Sepang car park and let them run over each other. That’d be spectacular.
But hey, I was once a newbie too. Still am. But I know I have my limits. I value safety. I progress slowly, but at least I don’t create headaches for other drivers. I have heard this story about a particular Proton from Hell. The owner transplanted a “veli powderful” engine onto it, but tyres, brakes and everything else remained stock. Despite advice from track instructors, he wouldn’t brake any earlier. And he would run off stylishly in a straight line at Turn 1 every time. Then all other drivers had to pit and waited for his car to be towed.
Still, those were merely minor interruption in the bigger picture of fun. One of the most memorable moment was dogfighting with a Nissan GTR. He passed me, but I wouldn’t let go. I passed him in the next corner. He passed me again, and I passed him again. He’s a very gentlemanly driver that kept a safe distance. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have a chance against a GTR. In the end, the car just walked past mine on the straight.
Most interestingly, I got to watch how Adian drove his Altezza. He started from the back of the grid, but before the first corner he out-braked everybody else and slotted into the third position. I had been tailing him since and witnessed how he braked very, very late — like 60m before Turn 1. In subsequent laps, I experimented braking later, and noticed how much ground I could gain on him. It’s been a very enlightening lesson.
Worth noting, I used the passing technique described in Adian’s article to power earlier when exiting Turn 2. It worked well and I passed a car. I noticed I had more time to think about racing lines now. I also noticed that I did not have significant straight line advantage over Renault R250 despite having more horsepower. Ivan reckoned it’s due to insufficient cornering speed. There are a lot more to work on. I am looking forward to the next event.