Updated: Mar 10
KARI MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Heyo! I just got back from racing my first weekend ever in the JKNRC at the Kari Motor Speedway. The event was organised by JK Tyre from Dec 10 to Dec 13. The weekend was a challenge (who doesn't love a good challenge?) but I managed to take away a lot of learnings and experience which will be used in the events to come.
Kari's new layout is a good challenge, a few slow corners, good amounts of medium speed corners and just a couple quick corners, obviously with two decently long straights.
Here is the lowdown of the complete four days on track for me. Buckle in, it's a rough ride.
My absolute first day on track. First things first, meet the team. The team I raced with was MSport, real good people! I met a couple of teammates of mine early in the day and went for a track walk with them (they knew the track in and out, I think). The day was meant to be for unofficial practice with five sessions of 30 minutes each.
Going into the day I had one thing in mind, learn the track and car. The car (LGB F4) had the 'H' pattern shifter, I had never driven such a racecar before. SIGH. This meant the use of clutch while downshifting and using my right foot for braking (the FIA F4 uses paddle shift cars, no interaction with the clutch at all!), I wasn't used to this at all.
Session 1: I planned to get used to the shifting in this session and to learn the track with it. I got out of the pitlane and the car shut down. I tried to restart it but it wouldn't budge. I also tried to jumpstart the car (put the car in second gear whilst having the clutch completely depressed and letting the car roll for a bit before dumping the clutch which starts the car back up), this failed as well. I had to go back to the team garage in the safety car (they are a different breed, the safety car drivers) while my car was delivered back after the end of the session. Later I learned that the car had issues with the starter motor and the fusebox.
here is the onboard of session 1 (very short-lived).
Session 2: Here's where it is very scary. I finally have the car running and complete a sighting lap, I go into turn 1 full steam and brake at about the 100-meter board, the car just does not stop! I try again, NO BRAKES. I brake again, this time with all my might just to get the damn thing stopped before I hit anything, the brakes locked up and I nearly avoided the tyre barrier. For a bit I thought that it was my braking style which is why that happened, then I went into the hairpin just before the last corner and a car spun right before me for which I hit the brakes to take avoiding action. NOTHING again. I nearly lost it again and almost went into the barrier. After this, I took it back to the garage and jumped out of the car
Session 3: First session where I could learn the car and track properly. This was fun. I went out and started to push lap after lap, started to discover how the car functions and likes to be treated. Conclusion - she understeery!
Session 4: kept pushing. Had a couple of spins, that's how you learn, eh?
Session 5: kept pushing.
The day ended on a good note with a lot of improvement.
I had issues with taking turn 3 and 4 because of my line through them (completely my mistake) and lost a LOT of lap time through the straight right after because of the horrible exit. I then had to revisit my lines through onboard footage and figure out what I could do differently to make up lost time. I got in contact with Aditya Patel (Indian racing driver) and he guided me the right way and I was prepared for the next day.
these were the lines I took into turn 3 and 4
Aditya sent me this and asked me to do a few changes which helped in gaining back lost lap time.
(BIG THANKS ADITYA!)
Alright. First Official day for the championship. Not anxious (not at all daunting :| ).
We had three sessions scheduled for the day. Free Practice, Qualifying, Race 1.
It was very exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Free Practice: All had brand new boots on. A lot of traffic in the session, but it was a good time to get used to the car with brand spanking new tyres. How did the car feel you may ask? A completely different car in terms of handling compared to the previous day. I had severe oversteer on entry and understeer on exit, mid-corner I had to be off the pedals to avoid spinning (NIGHTMARE)! Still, I pushed on. Had a couple of spins but got used to the car eventually.
Qualifying: This is where a driver will push to the absolute limit. I was not at the limit and struggling all throughout qualifying because of reasons such as mis-shifts (there was an issue with the stiffness of the gear lever), brake bias, my driving (have to admit!), and a few other things. I managed an okay lap time which put me P17 on the grid for Race 1.
Race 1: This is it. The big moment. The one I was waiting for a lifetime now. Except it was scarier and less exciting at first. The five-minute board came out, this is where all the personnel leave the track. The three minutes board came out, this is where we start the engines. The one minute board, this is where we set off for the formation lap. The formation lap was where all the nerves calmed down, I felt ready for the challenge, focused on getting temperature in the brakes and the tyres, lined up in my grid box, P17. The rest of the cars then lined up and the marshalls showed the five-second board, this is when the lights are about to come on and the race is about to start. FIVE LIGHTS, it was LIGHTS OUT AND AWAY WE GO (except it was away I go). All the simulator work I did to perfect the race start worked brilliantly, I absolutely nailed the start! I had passed 3 cars before turn 1. It was utter chaos into turn 1. Cars were crashing into each other like there was no tomorrow, they were spinning and it was just a mess. I got through it (YAY)! Lap 2, a car flipped over after being crashed into. The officials had to red flag the session. We restarted behind the safety car and here is where I make a mistake (or the marshals do). The safety car came in that lap but the marshal posts were still waving yellows with the SC board out, this is why I assumed that the safety car was still out, I couldn't see the SC (or the SC lights) because it was very far away, so I continued going slowly and weaving. It was when I got on to the main straight it occurred to me that it was back to racing. I ended up losing a lot of time and lost laps trying to catch the guys up front. Ended P16. Not what I had hoped for.
This ended day 2 on track.
This day I felt ready, the nerves turned into excitement and the rush to go racing just kept pumping through my veins.
Race 2: The start was fantastic. Made some amazing overtakes. That's it. The last few laps i was lining up two moves at the exit of the last corner and planned to get them on the min straight. I drove it through the last corner and onto the main straight and the car snapped in a straight line when there was no steering input. I still do not know what happened there. The only guess I can make is loss of traction in the rear-left tyre which caused the car to snap inward (nose turning left). I couldn't catch the guys ahead of me and that's how the race ended, not to mention 8-9 laps of safety cars and yellow flags and only 2-3 real racing laps. Frustrating. Ended P14.
Race 3: The start was fantastic yet again. This time I got hit in the rear in turn 1 on lap 1. Next lap I had to retire the car with a gearbox failure. DNF.
There were a lot of cars retiring that race at the exact same corner where I did. We all had to do a walk of shame back to the pitlane. (SAD :( )
This ended day 3.
The final day on track. The F4 class had three races scheduled which made it fun.
There was a very common theme running for the races on day 4, which was having a good start, followed by a couple of laps of nice-hard racing with a few guys and gals, then followed by running pretty much my own race (alone). This allowed me to get in the zone and try improving my lap time.
Race 4: As mentioned above, and set my personal best. Getting closer to the top guys (still far though). Ended P18.
Race 5: Uneventful. Improved my pace. Ended P15.
Race 6: This is where I set my best lap time of the weekend. 1:18:998. This race was good fun. I made no mistakes, kept setting consistent lap times and tried to improve, which I did. Ended P16.
Overall, the experience at JKNRC was fantastic. It was a very professional environment that helped me grow and learn a lot. It was my first ever race weekend, I improved throughout and kept getting closer to the top guys. There were a lot of issues in my car, brakes, gears, etc but all this helped me learn communication with the engineers and the mechanics who helped me get the car setup to my liking throughout the weekend.
More than it being a success, it was about the learning and what I take away to apply in the event coming up which is the FIA F4-SEA.
I would like to thank my family for making this happen and believing in me. Also the MSport team to give me a car and drive for them.
All in all, very pleased with this weekend.
Until next time, Ciao!
Here are some pictures of the weekend -
made a few mates
made it to the chequered flag.
getting ready for the session.
licked the stamp and sent it on a few.