This year is the Dragon Year according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar and Race Craft Academy (RCA) had arranged a trackday at Sepang International Circuit (SIC) on a Saturday afternoon dubbed the Dragon Prosperity Trackday. We have decided to enter our Nismo BNR32 for a shakedown for both driver and car. Without much expectations, the car drove brilliantly albeit needing improvements in braking as well as better tyre and wheel combination (we still had stock Sumitomo brakes, R32 GT-R wheels and standard spec Goodyear road tyres).
Our car was painted Rosso Corsa recently and taking the name of Red Tomato II as a tribute to my previous ‘Red Tomato’ 180SX. The car had a pair of Nismo Turbos upgraded to 360 degree thrust bearing, 850cc Tomei injectors, N1 oil pump, BNR34 HKS oil cooler, Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 as part of a minor upgrade.
This BNR34 is driven by our close friend Razlan. The car is fairly stock besides having its boost turned up a wee bit higher. The car will be having a more serious upgrade in the coming weeks while preparing for the Megalap Time Attack series, and we will be covering more of it in later posts.
Another prospective Megalap Time Attack contender driven by Jamil, just had its final tuning done and now pushes 411whp, almost 30whp more than our BNR32. Being rear wheel-driven, the car proved plentiful but with such a light and responsive chassis I’m betting the car to clock in good times in the first round of the Time Attack event at the end of the month.
Trackdays are good fun, both in practicing your racing lines as well as socialising with other petrol heads. We came in convoy of almost 10 cars, with Skylines, Silvias and even the 4-door Mazda Capella snorting its rotary engine while it went around the track. The individuals that led our group were trackday regulars and gave us a much appreciated tutorial about going around Sepang. Playing Sepang on the Playstation can teach a driver the way around the track but could not beat driving on the track itself in terms of atmosphere, g-forces and the actual feeling of the track.
Johanz served as our tutor for the day. A trackday and time attack regular, our drivers had a good time learning the basics of Sepang from him. Johanz is prepping up is 1JZ-powered Z31 for the upcoming Megalap Time Attack as well.
The S13 looked just gorgeous with it’s newly lacquered carbon fibre front hood. Freshly tuned, this car will soon be tearing up Sepang in time attack events.
The stormtrooper-themed BNR32 which was caught on our camera last year is driven by our friend JK. Also a trackday regular, we reckon this 1994-manufactured BNR32 is one of the youngest of all BNR32s in Malaysia.
Not many supercars entered that day’s trackday as I was told there was another trackday the day after organized for supercars and Lotuses. These two, a Ferrari F430 and a Porsche Cayman S, came to join in the fun. While the Cayman S had a subtle-sounding exhaust, the F430 went screaming through the straights.
Turbo cars are always at a disadvantage on the track compared to normally aspirated cars as heat build up is much faster. Heat destroys engines, and usually after 3 or 4 laps, it’s time to pit.
Normally aspirated cars almost always sound better on track especially when it has a big V in its engine bay. This baby blue Aston Martin Vantage race car is one such example, partially screaming and partially grunting its way around track. Seeing it on the rear view mirror would give a mixed feeling, aroused by the engine sound but at the same time terrified when it pushes its way to pass the slower car.
Subaru WRX STIs are superb cars. Although some may favour the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions instead, these STIs in traditional Subaru blue were going around Sepang mightily fast. One thing boxer engines have above their other piston rivals is the awesome distinctive engine sound.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions are Subaru’s traditional rivals. The black Evo followed by the newest of the Evos, the Evo X, turned up for the Evo-squad.
Going onto the track for the first time is both scary and exciting experience. I’ve driven through mountain roads and such but the trackday experience is totally new to me. It did feel safer, knowing a mistake would only mean going through the grass or gravel where as touge excursions could mean dicing with death itself.
Having a coach teaching you the racing lines and other basic track etiquette, lessens the learning curve by quite a bit. When and how much to brake, when to floor it and turning in the corners while clipping it are some of the lessons learnt that day. We didn’t clock any time during the trackday as transponders weren’t used (I didn’t even think of timing my runs as I was more busy learning the track). Even if we did, I don’t think we clocked any good times, especially when our BNR32 had technical problems in the middle of the session. The exhaust side intercooler hose came of again, making the car normally aspirated for around 4 or 5 laps.
Sepang International Circuit is 5.54 kilometres long with sweeping corners and long straights. It has 15 corners and two wide straights. One could never fathom how wide the track is especially the two straights unless he or she had driven on track. The wide straight proved to be a good place to floor it, as it is used for Sepang Drag Battle events throughout the year, but after flooring it only then one could feel how slow the car was even though the car was reaching close to 200km/h.
At the end of the main straight was a tight right hander, I was told that one could brake at 50 metres but considering our standard brakes and brakpads weren’t up to it, we decided to brake at an early 150 metres while losing some time doing it.
It was good to see a couple of BNR34 GT-Rs coming out to play.
This white example with Nismo stripes on it sides had some goodies such as an N1 block and Tomei oil pump to name a few. The car was purchased just a few days before the trackday.
While the new owner of the white BNR34 drove his new toy on track, his other V-Spec BNR34 was driven by his lucky wife.
In the crowd of JDMs, the Aston Martin had an air of racing pedigree around it. It seemed that the team was having a shakedown as well, perhaps for the upcoming race series in Sepang.
The 350Z is seen quite often in the streets of Kuala Lumpur these days but not many actually making it onto the track. This is one of the lucky few, getting its legs to be fully exploited in Sepang.
Our friend Razlan came out first with his devilishly looking BNR34. Always a fast driver, he would prove to be a strong contender in time attack events. Sporting a mostly stock BNR34 besides the slight up in boost, he did very well to drive fast around the corners.
Not only was he fast around the corners, but on the straights as well. With his straight piped exhaust, the sound coming from the car almost guaranteed some ear-popping ecstasy.
While Razlan was out on the track, Jamil also had some fun with his S13. Besides D-Max wide bodykit, the S13 also had a factory option sunroof completing in the clean look of the car. But to be serious time attacker, a rear wing should be in the cards.
We went out after Razlan, and did a couple of 3 lap stints. Half of it was done normally aspirated as the intercooler came of when we revved above 6,000 rpm.
After cooling down, we fixed the intercooler hose before heading out again. Limiting at 5,000 rpm isn’t much fun though but imperative to avoid the hose coming off again. A mistake that should’ve been corrected before we headed out to the track and a lesson learnt.
Evo X or the GT-R? This GT-R sporting a matte black wrapping, has its front tow hook in red making it look more sinister. Driven regularly in Sepang, I was told that it also regularly clocks fast times around the track.
Another shot of the GT-R. Besides having mega horsepower, this car had huge AP Racing anchors as well.
The total of 80+ cars showed up at the trackday. Most cars were active during the first hour, but come the second half, most of the cars pitted to cool down and only several cars were left to play.
Around 25 pits were made available for trackday participants. Here, Jamil’s S13 is having a breather after going for several hotlaps earlier.
Fortunately for these supercars, their normally aspirated engines and superb chassis meant that they could be tracked as soon as they come out of the factory.
Big power isn’t necessary when you go out for a trackday. Good brakes and suitable tyres make a huge difference in clocking best times. Though, big power does help at the straights.
The Ferrari F430 at its paces. Ferrari knows how to make fast road cars that can double as a trackday weapon, thanks to their expertise in Formula One.
Besides the trackday participants, there were also interesting cars at the spectators parking lots. This is a Honda Accord Euro-R, with K20A VTEC engine providing enough excitement in a 4-door.
This is the 4-door Mazda Capella that was in our pit. This rotary beast is a Sepang regular as well, with its interior gutted out leaving only bare necessities.
When this classic BMW 6 Series rolled into Sepang, I was aghast assuming it would be tracked. This model of BMW 6 is one of my favourite BMWs ever, and fortunately this car was just a spectator. Don’t get me wrong, it would be cool for it to be tracked but I can’t shake the feeling of seeing a pristine 6 getting whacked on the track.
This Toyota Altezza also made it to the spectators’ parking. Known as the IS250 in some countries, the model can only be found through grey importers as Toyota never officially brought the car into Malaysia. Seeing that there is a large following, Toyota finally decided to bring in the current generation Altezza.
The Porsche Cayman S doesn’t need high horsepower to make a good driver’s car. Besides its superb handling, the design itself looked fast.
Drivers don’t always drive the full 3 hours of trackday. If not driving, they can be seen socialising with each other talking about, yeah you guessed it, cars.
Not many ladies could be found that day although there are spouses and girlfriends giving support to their driving partners. What we need are more lady drivers going for trackdays. Now, that would be awesome!
Red and black is the theme of this handsome driver.
Other than socialising, pit hopping is a good way to check out the other cars too.
We ended the day with good shakedown of the car. Next on the job list are wheels, brakes, and slight adjustment to the suspensions. Oh, and the intercooler hose too. Lol.
Approaching the end of the trackday session, Jamil had the chance to give his soon-to-be wife Daryl a runaround on track. As the others packed their kits and stuff, we were fully satisfied with our first trackday. More preparations to come for the next one which is not too far ahead.