My First Time Attack Event

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News Team Writer c32b returns to the S2KI Mainpage today. While he was away, he raced in Time Attack at a rather famous circuit. This is his story. -SF

After previously tracking a stock S2000, I decided to try my hand at a time attack event as I’d always wanted to see how I would do under the pressure of a race atmosphere. The MegaLap Round 4 was held in Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia and was a time trial event which was separated in various classes depending on how heavily modified the car was and the sort of tyres used. Although my car was relatively new to me (virtually everything from suspension, brakes, aerodynamics, power and even tyres were new), I decided to do this event to pick up some experience so I might hopefully do better the next time under similar pressure events. I did realize that since I was classified in the street tyre limited Clubsprint VTEC/FI (forced induction) class, I was facing a disadvantage being pitted against the turbocharged and AWD cars with their added power and grip but decided to have a go anyway.

Making the 300 km drive up to the track in the morning meant that I would need a good night’s rest but as things always seem to pan out, I ended up with a restless 4.5 hours of shut eye. I picked up Wayn, my friend and volunteer grease monkey for the day, and we had a smooth drive to the circuit which we reached at 8:45 AM. I needed to get there earlier than the stated registration time of 10:30 AM as I had ordered new tyres to replace my 30,000 km old Advans. Upon reaching the track, I was shocked to realise that my tyres had not arrived! Frantic, I called my friend Henry who had helped me with the order and realized that somehow the shipment had been messed up so that the Hankook Ventus R-S3s that I had ordered would only arrive a month later. Despondent, I was about to lose hope and run the event with old tyres when I spied a stack of thinner width RS3’s lying in the corner. With Henry’s help, I managed to secure that set for my use for the time attack event, avoiding a potentially disastrous start to the event. Was this a portent of things to come? I dearly hoped not!

Rushing for my driver’s briefing and registration, I had a brief glimpse of the competition I had in store. Ranging from an Integra Type R with full workshop support helmed by Red Bull Racing selected drivers, a gaggle of Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Type R Civics with mean looking engine bays, I was rather apprehensive of how I would place. The format would be an hour of practice from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, followed immediately by my first class slot at 2:00 – 2:25 PM then subsequently the final slot at 3:30 – 3:55 PM. I decided to focus on running my fresh Hankooks in for the practice session and ran fairly easy for the first session with a slightly lower rev limit to allow the tyres the scrub in as gradually as possible. With reduced effort, I managed to clock my personal best in the 2 minute 43 second range and was fairly upbeat that I could give a good showing in the actual time attack runs. Wayn helped me record tyre temperature readings with my pyrometer while I checked the tyre pressure ranges to try to get an indication of how the car was doing.

Embarking on my actual time attack run, I faced the full wrath of the track gremlins. I was first late to the flag off at the pit lane, forgot my gloves and once I eventually made it to the track, was unlucky to be the recipient to the massive spilling of petrol of an older BMW all over my car which forced me to pit to get clear of him. Left with little to no time to get a good timing, I only managed a timing a full 3 seconds slower than the best of my lap time today. Despondent, I sat gloomy and brooding in the pits as I grabbed a burger while replenishing precious fluids to combat the 50 degree Celsius track temperatures. A Korean Man Jeon stopped by while I sulked and told me that he was sorry about the mix up that he had for my tyres as he was responsible for bringing the tyres in. He advised me on tyre pressures and asked me to try out certain pressure settings which he said has proven fairly successful for touring cars. Being fairly desperate for a decent time by that juncture, I dropped the pressures and hoped that it would work a miracle to give me a decent showing.

Out for the final run of the day, I noted better grip on the tyres and despite the fair amount of traffic, managed to clock a transponder registered 2 minute 42 second timing. Upon verifying with my RaceLogic Performance Box datalogger, I realized I had managed a 2 minute 41.89 second run which was a nice bump up from my previous achievements. The joy was short-lived as I soon found out to my horror that the leading Integra Type R was a full 5-6 seconds quicker than I was. Although I was only a mere 1.2 seconds from a 2nd place slot on the podium, my efforts were just not enough to secure me even a third place finish.

On the long drive back home to Singapore, I mulled over the data and run of events in my mind. Despite the disappointment I felt at not being able to podium, I realized that lack of track time (more than 1.5 years of absence from the race track) and the unfamiliarity with the setup were critical areas that really pulled me down. I chalked this event down to experience while noting how critical composure and focus under sprint race conditions were to the results. All in all, the experience was very valuable and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Guess you’ll see me back for more when the next time attack event arrives!

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