From the blog of Jason Tay, written by Jason Tay.
Never driven this circuit for a long while and had to rely on experiences 5 years ago to get back on pace with the rest. No practice session meant I had to get up to speed quickly in qualifying.
The kart I choose had old tyres but still drove like a dream. She caught my eye without any reason and I just walked up to her and said “this kart” when choosing karts. She liked me to get her tail out slightly sideways in corner entry on this low grip track and she gripped on corner exits with correct timing on the throttle. And we basically just danced to pole position (1st place in qualifying) by over half a second. I miss her so much as I type this. The feeling of being one with a machine is just something out of this world.
The plan for Race 1 was straightforward, defend in the first corner, and pump out clean laps afterwards. Was kept on my toes by an experienced driver behind me, gap between me and him was always increasing and decreasing, so there wasn’t really any net progress. But a race-long battle was denied when his kart unfortunately ran out of fuel. This gave 2nd place to my fellow GTSG (Gran Turismo Singapore) friend, Jun Hao, who was also in the pack watching us battle out in front. The dream result of us being 1st and 2nd came true and topping it off with Jun Hao getting the fastest lap award for the second round in a row.
We came back to the pits to rest and prepare for race 2. Then it poured. Race 2 starting grid is basically our finishing position in Race 1, but reversed. So I start dead last. Track was soaked, rain was still falling and all karts will race on slicks (tyres for the dry). My visor was fogging real bad and water droplets were everywhere.
In the formation lap (driving to the starting grid), I was trying to feel the grip levels in the high speed corners to gain confidence in the race. Who knew there was a kart stalled on the exit of the corner with a staff member trying to restart the kart. My kart was understeering (when you turn the wheel but the kart does not turn) straight into them and I couldn’t do anything other than lift off the throttle and pray her fronts will grip as she moves away from the slippery racing line. She gripped just in time and I narrowly avoided knocking over someone in a foreign country oh god.
Race start and I gained 4 positions in the first corner just by braking early as I watched everyone run wide due to the almost negative grip levels on the track. After that is a long straight and everyone was aquaplaning everywhere at high speeds but we still kept our foots planted on the throttle with our karts dancing under us as we go from puddle to puddle.
The first heavy braking zone was our first real challenge. Speeds of 80kmh on slicks (ungrooved tyres so basically we are floating over puddles), in the wet, unpersonalised brake pressures, no practice, downhill braking zone and with everyone in close proximity. It’s a recipe for chaos. The guys in front of me braked too late and ran super wide while some drivers behind me were probably spinning out. Just chaos everywhere and I took the opportunity to go on the inside and emerged in 1st place.It wasn’t long until I got passed by an experienced karter a few corners later, who was clearly more confident in the wet while I was chickening out in braking zones. I also accidentally tapped someone causing him to spin out. I really hate dirty racing and dirty drivers. Hence, I slowed down and let everyone through including the driver that I tapped. Took it as a penalty and moved on. I fought my way up again and also did a couple of spins but eventually found my way back in 3rd or 4th place. It was like a see-saw afterwards where I could catch up and pass people but only to spin again afterwards and returning back to square one.
Only got comfortable midway through the race and fought my way up to 2nd, chasing the leader. He was consistent and I couldn’t catch him on raw pace so I just had to wait for him to make a mistake and he did. Big time. He understeered slowly straight into the tyre barrier and got stuck. Everything was like in slow motion and I couldn’t really believe it but yeah that’s racing.
Just like that, back in 1st place in a race that I never really thought of winning, was already really happy with a victory in race 1. Looked back to check who was behind me and its Jun Hao again. Everything was so surreal after all that happened in the race. Spinning out, aquaplaning through corners, feeling cold, soggy gloves and shoes, almost crashing into a concrete wall etc.
After 12 long laps out there, we took home 1st and 2nd again. The pride of sim-racers was on the line and I’m glad we could prove that we can put up a show in the real-world too.
Every driver in the race also had very good sportsmanship, they try to drive cleanly as much as possible and treat each other with respect on and off the track. It was a really great day of racing.