What a weekend, packed to the brim with motorsport, it doesn’t get much better.
Long story short, I raced the Red Dragon to my best results getting my best ever lap times in the 2kcup. Unfortunately Dad didn’t have the day he wanted in the BMW after overheating and possibly seriously damaging the engine in the first race. After the racing at Hampton Downs I went home and jumped on my simulator rig for the last round of the Nations Cup on Gran Turismo where I got the good result I needed qualifying me for the finals (expected to take place in Japan). We even kept the weekend of racing going on Sunday with some go karting.
I couldn’t have done it without the help of DM Mechanics on Friday helping us fit new brakes last minute, you are legends. Also an epic effort from Dad preparing both cars so I could just fly in and drive, thanks a million I truly appreciate it.
So then back to the beginning.
Thursday night I flew up to Auckland for the early start Friday for practice. It was awesome to get back behind the wheel of the MR2 we affectionately call the Red Dragon. Dad also was enjoying his first chance to pedal the BMW E30 a.k.a. the Bumble Beemer. The plan was I would race in the 2kcup while Dad raced in the improved production class as a chance to try the BMW and see if he wanted to continue doing more racing in it. The first few sessions were fun, slowly getting back up to speed with the car and track but it wasn’t to last. In the 4th session I struggled locking up the brakes a lot. I came back in and we started looking around the car for the cause in our half arsed “we don’t really know what we’re looking for but want to feel like we know what we’re doing” kinda way and Dad spotted a problem. The left front brake had chipped away at the top leading to real concerns it could crumble if I went back out and use them heavily as you do when racing. After some mild panic we decided to call an end to our practice day and hunt down some brakes so we could come back ready to race Saturday. Thankfully we got a hold of some new endless brakes (at no small expense) and even more thankfully we have DM Mechanics in our corner. We called Dmitry who dropped everything to get us sorted out. Legend.
So with the car sorted we were all set to race Saturday, or so we thought. Another early morning and we were at the track getting the cars scrutineered. Wouldn’t you know it we hit another hurdle, the fire extinguisher was out of date. Shouldn’t be too much of a drama they were selling them at documentation, but it was a different size so needed a different bracket fitted. Some more panic and rushing around and we (mostly Dad though cus he’s the hero) got it sorted just in time to head out into qualifying.
2kcup qualifying came with a new format for the new season. There would be one qualifying session to start with, with lap times determining whether, in the second qualifying session, you went out with the fast group or not so fast group. I knew my front brakes were new so to start the session I was focused purely on giving them a heat cycle to ensure they were in good condition. On the third lap I went for it, testing the brakes to the limit as I pushed for the best lap time, cornering with absolutely concentration aiming for the smoothest lines possible. Then I again let the brakes cool and reset for another lap where I ended up in traffic and didn’t get the most out of it. At the end of the session I was happy with my effort, but when I saw the times I was blown away. Not only did I make it into the fast group for the second part of qualifying but I had put in the 20th fastest lap time out of 90+ cars, what an awesome effort I was so proud.
The second part of qualifying was a chance to go all in for the lap times, I knew I could trust the new brakes at this point. Getting into it and before even having the chance for one fast lap the safety car was out. Back into pit lane for the track to be cleared before qualifying was resumed. Zooming out on track again I was going for it. Trying to find space for a clear lap but free from any stress as I knew I had the lap time from the earlier session to rely on, and honestly didn’t think I could beat it. But I did beat it by a few tenths proving it was no fluke and putting myself 24th on the grid of the fast group for race 1.
Dads qualifying was next. The improved production class is rather different to the 2kcup with many modifications allowed, essentially meaning the Bumble Beemer being relatively standard was the slowest car on track. Qualifying however is always a chance to push the car and Dad was relishing the chance to get to know the car better and find those extra tenths, even if he was getting out of the way of faster cars more than he cared for. A 1:25 lap time on his first weekend was a great way to start the day.
The lights go out and I’m off. Launching my car straight down the middle with an awesome start from 24th. Through the first corner with cars tightly packed all around in typical 2kcup fashion. Then down to the second corner braking late around the outside, passing even more cars as I get the inside over the hill. Then into the first hairpin and I’m choosing the outside again, sliding the car as I try push for even more places. It really is always such madness in the first couple of laps of a 2kcup race but I was loving it, getting plenty of moves done in the early stages, although promptly losing a few as the integras blew past me up the straight. I kept pushing the next few laps but couldn’t quite get the move done on the car in front. For most of the race I settled in position, just slightly off those in front but pulling away from those behind. I kept focused on getting the most out of the car, not making any mistakes, putting in the lap times. Pushing and pushing the full 33 minutes I was fighting off the exhaustion to keep up the pace, eventually coming through to finish in 18th, such an epic result considering the level of competition (and cars they drive). Even though I spent most of the race without any battles it was still up there as one of my proudest results, the consistency was insane with 22 laps within 1 second of each other.
Looking up at the spectator banks on the cool down lap was also a special moment. Having support from my extended family all up there cheering for me was awesome.
Dads race one was a different story. He did get a great start to move up positions. He come round the first lap and pulled of a great aggressive move right in front of us at the hairpin but it wasn’t to last. Only a couple laps in the engine temperature was up and as he came past again we could visibly see it dropping liquid on the track. Next lap around and Dad was into the pits, engine steaming, he was out of the race.
As we came to discover he was out of the whole days racing. The engine fan belt had come off, and with no fan for cooling the engine had overheated to the point of boiling out all the coolant. A hot engine is not a healthy engine and while we don’t know the full extent of the damage until we take it apart the oil that came through the coolant when we refilled it was an ominous sign.
With Dad out it was up to me to put on a good showing for the Toymota Racing fans (family) and the reverse grid second race always has potential for exactly that. With the reverse grid being based off fastest lap times from race 1 I was to start up in the first group in 8th, an exciting prospect given how close the times were across the entire field. Once again the start proved a strength of the MR2 giving me spots and allowing me to focus on overtaking rather than getting overtaken. The standard close opening couple of laps turned into many more close laps as I pushed the car trying to get past Roman in his Starlet. We spent so much time side by side as I had the straight line speed but the starlets cornering proving superior. We kept fighting even as we overtook other cars, moving up to 3rd and 4th and holding that position for a number of laps. Then the safety car came out. I was gutted, the reverse grid is potentially ruined by a safety car as the fast cars behind get to catch right up getting an easier chance to get through the field. I thought they would all be coming through in no time but none the less I was always going to keep pushing. On the restart I was back into it, holding my 4th position before slowly getting picked off by a few of the top guys coming through the field. But it wasn’t long before those cars coming through didn’t have such an advantage over me. I kept fighting and fighting as the race drew closer to the end, eventually getting one of those lost positions back as consistency again worked to my advantage. Down to the last lap I was still getting hunted. Mark Mallard coming at me, lights blazing, closing the gap with every corner. Right up behind me as we headed around the last few bends for the final time I was desperate to keep the position. I held the inside as he tucked into my slip stream up the straight. Almost side by side over the line as I held the position by less than 2 tenths of a second. I held the position and finished in 8TH! EIGHTH PLACE WOOHOOO! I was truly over the moon with that performance, my best 2kcup result to start a season that is already shaping up to be the fastest ever. Not to mention I did my fastest ever lap in the Red Dragon to get there, a 1:22.5
Thanks to those that helped me get there. Particularly Dad for doing everything with the car preparation to make my weekend easy. DM Mechanics as I mentioned earlier, I’m proud to have your sign on our car with all the great support we get from you. And to those at the track who supported me on the day making it even that much more of an awesome environment, I always say half the fun of the 2kcup is actually the chatting between races.
But that wasn’t the end of the racing. Saturday night I went home, had a nap, then got up for my 1am virtual race. For those that don’t know I also pursue my racing passion through esports and have been competing in a world wide competition on Gran Turismo Sport. The final round of that competition took place Saturday night with the top 24 drivers, including myself, racing with the hopes of qualifying for the finals. I was so stoked to finish that race in 15th and claim my position amongst the best as one of those drivers that has qualified for the final. This will see me travel to a yet to be announced location (most likely Japan) to compete and represent my team ESPORTS+CARS on the world stage once again.
I will post a more detailed recap and future updates over on my MonkeyMan Racing facebook page.
Then just to top of a massive weekend of racing Dad and I went back to Hampton Downs Sunday were we had a lot of fun in the go karts (I even claimed the fastest time in our group) and got to see some awesome supercars blasting around the track (Ferraris, McLarens, and my dream car Lamborghinis)
What a weekend. It doesn’t get much better.
Honestly if you made it this far I am amazed. These posts are getting so long I could compile a book from a single season.
Thanks for the support