PIT STOP

The GT-R was blue.
Posted by | July 9, 2014

Hi, it’s been a while, but this is EXP again, I’d been busily chasing the car culture back in Japan since my return with a total disregard for the genre of cars, at Formula Drift Japan, Offsetkings, etc.

Though Shichisawa san already concluded his entries, I’m just now restarting my entry on the 24 hours of Nürburgring that I’d been sitting on for a while. (Sort of taking the EXP(ress) out of EXP but oh well…)

The machine was blue way back then… June 18 (Wed.)

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Schulze Motorsports was supposed to be in the same pit box as Team RJN of GT Academy initially, but because of a pit fire that occurred in the previous VLN race, they were affected by a new rule that was set, only allowing up to two SP9 class cars in the same pit box. By some coincidence, the pit box they were moved to was next to the Gazoo Racing team, which includes the mystery middle-aged racer, “Mr. Morizo”. Mr. Morizo is good friends with the president of Aston Martin, and in a VLN race a few years ago they even traded cars in the race! A total motorsport fan but his true identity is veiled in secrecy, and I hear he’s good at drifting too…. adding to the mystery.

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STI, the Japanese team with fans not just in Japan but abroad as well, brought their new model. They were working on developing new tech in the race, now adopting a sequential shift transmission found commonly in racing cars. Stepping up to the next level from their prior commercial-car based development, the drivers would also have to get used to the faster car, testing their skill as well. Their rival in recent years has been the Audi TT-RS converted to front wheel drive, but it’d be nice to see both of them go at it in their original four wheel drive configurations, considering they are two iconic companies of the world who have both built their brand on four wheel drive technology.

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Team RJN with GT Academy drivers led by Lucas, shares the pit box with an older Opel Astra. But of course the Astra is still a precious racing car to the participating team. (As I said previously after driving the tourist laps…. I’ve got serious respect for the lower class teams.)

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In the paddocks tent of the Schulze team; the key person that connects real car development and the virtual world talks with Yamauchi san about the setup of this year’s car. The car apparently has a higher top speed than last years.

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Back in the lounge, Yamauchi san talks to Yamada san, Japan’s fastest ranking Gran Turismo driver; who is also knowledgeable in automotive engineering. They are discussing the difficulties of developing a car, and from the conversation full of technical terms you could hardly tell that they are talking about a video game.

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Afterwards we went to the Japanese shops in Düsseldorf to buy supplies, but we received an urgent message: “There’s a parade in Adenau, hurry back!” We turn around immediately, but the distance we’re talking about is a hundred and thirty kilometers, one way…. (In Japan that’s like from Tokyo to the Fuji Speedway).

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The annual parade through the town of Adenau was shown in the paid program on GTTV back in 2008; local police were starting to block off the roads for the parade as we arrived. Looking around, I was surprised to find so many Japanese media everywhere. And across the street the group from STI was eating lunch… for a moment I almost forgot we were in Germany.

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And then there she was, the one in blue! And in front of the GT3 cars was an Audi marshal car… that’s always ahead of the pack on and off the track… hmm. Does that make the Audi marshal car the fastest car in the world?

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Seeing this surreal scene where cars recognized in the virtual world are driving through town, everyone commented unanimously, “It’s like photo travel in Gran Turismo!”

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After an introduction of the cars on a special stage, the first group returned to the circuit. As a side note, the STI would have been in this first group, but they apparently had smoke billowing from the engine compartment in the pits, right before leaving. No big deal though, apparently it was just the new exhaust manifold wrapping tape that had not been bedded (burned-in) yet, causing it to smoke. A common minor issue that only happens on a “brand new” racing car.

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I was praying for all the cars to come back safely, but looking back at this scene after the race, I remember the BMW M235i Racing in this frame was pretty badly damaged in the very start of the final…

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The smile that blows away all worry. The man inside the Nissan Motors account, NISSAN_MS, he also performed a live report from LeMans just last week, acting as global PR for Nissan. That teddy bear I see here and there in pictures… I was surprised to find that he is carefully transported in a Ziploc bag! A snapshot that shows a bit of his true character.

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Might be the calm before the storm, but the air before the Nürburgring race was relatively mellow.

That night, I was finally able to “sneak” onto the north loop. Ok maybe sneak sounds bad since its officially allowed to come onto the track and graffiti when the circuit is not in operation.

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Sadly I didn’t bring any paint, but I’d like to graffiti something on the north loop someday like the others. However in the last few months, the tarmac of the North loop has been repaired quite a bit, and there are many locations now without any graffiti at all. When I asked Yamauchi san of the difference in tire grip, he told me that the new surface provides higher grip. He had told me once before that the grip differs with the color of the paint… I think that’s on a level that can only be understood and felt by those who have driven the Nürburgring really, really thoroughly.

While cautioning the others; “Hey you shouldn’t be laying down there on the track!” I couldn’t resist either and I was soon in bed with the Nürburgring myself, the cornerstone by my side. Then the Polyphony crew joined me… and lost their mobile phone (lol)….. ahh the consequences of messing around too much!

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But surprisingly, the mobile was found, and after the race it was left at the Hotel Dorint by someone. The trespassers of the Nürburgring may appear lawless, but they’re apparently kind at heart.

 

PIT STOP

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