Thursday, the driving sessions begin, and the official practice and the first qualifying session take place on this day. Guests arrive at the lounge one after another, and the staff provides hospitality for everyone despite the language barrier.
The staff responsible for the onboard camera that will film the race from the inside of the car, are required to change the camera every 2 stints. On this first day they must set up the camera inside the car, and make exposure settings, confirm procedures for swapping the camera, etc., all the while trying not to get in the way of the mechanics who are busy prepping the car to race.
Meanwhile the new recruits of the car modeling team headed to the famous carousel corner of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Trekking for 20 minutes between the forest of tents set in the woods, the bowl shaped corner appears.
At the carousel corner, the cars drop their speed quite a bit, and if you stand on the inside of the corner, the cars will circle around you at a constant speed. This make it a perfect spot for practicing photography of moving cars for a camera beginner. Everyone has a media vest on so they are allowed to enter the course side right up to the guardrails, but at the same time this is a zone where if anything happens, its your own responsibility. But though they seemed slightly tense as they entered the track for the first time, they became immediately intrigued by the racing cars rushing by while grinding their underfloor on the carousel’s concrete embankment, roaring out and away from the curve. They were quickly lost in the process of taking one shot after another with their cameras
The Nürburgring is a sort of holy ground for Gran Turismo, and for Polyphony digital it is a special location where we participate in our only race activity. If new recruits in our company experience and feel the real atmosphere in this special place, and bring back their sensations and experience to our workplace, that in itself makes this all worth it. That is what Yamauchi san told the staff as they arrived, and that experience, will one day be reflected in their output.
The car had undergone suspension rig tests and data analysis during its VLN participation, with results from a variety of trials and error applied to the car. The feedback from the drivers for the settings were good, and as the team started to think about qualifying results and strategy for the final, a report came in that car number 24, that had been zooming in and out of the carousel just a moment ago, had come into contact with another car and crashed.
One dark character of the Nürburgring Nordschleife is that the average speed on the track is very fast in comparison to a standard circuit, and combined with its rapid elevation changes and narrow course width, even a minor hit that would normally result in just a harmless slide off to the side on a modern track can result in a fatal accident here. When Yamauchi san walked back into the lounge with his usual brisk stride after having been moved from the circuit medial center to a hospital for a complete physical check, and calmly started to talk about the conditions of the crash, there were those who had tears of relief in their eyes. As the footage recorded by the onboard camera mentioned earlier was played back, the huge force of the crash was apparent in the camera image that flipped over at the moment of impact.
The accident caused heavy damage to the front of the car, and back at the team tent there were discussions on how and whether to continue the race or not. The team ultimately decides to push on, but this is much easier said than done. The real challenge will be the 10 or more hours from this point on. The car in the tent was completely disassembled, with the even the engine completely removed from the car.
Late night at the circuit. Watching from the entrance, people wearing different team jackets arrived one after another at the garage tent, with something in their hands. These were people from other racing teams bringing desperately needed parts, knowing we were in a time of need. Some quietly from the back entrance, some while cracking a joke. Damaging the precious car is a serious ordeal, and the safe return of the driver was a blessing. But we still wanted to get back in the race somehow, and it was as though everyone here at the circuit understood our hopes.