I was invited to Taipei, Taiwan to race at the 2013 New Taipei City Asia Invitational Championships held in New Taipei City. This was a really fun race and I have never been to a race with so many media coverage as well as spectators. Special thanks to Richard Yang, of ASIARC, for his invitation. The event was held at a beautiful and big track in Taipei Ban Qiao area and two classes were held, Modified Touring Class and 1/8 GP On-Road. The organizers wanted me to race the 1/8 class and invited Shimo San and I as the only two foreign drivers. They also paid for Ai to go to Taiwan to mechanic for me.
We had to arrive on the 7th of August because the organizers planned a press conference on Chinese Father’s Day which was the 8th at the New Taipei City Hall with scheduled appearance by the Mayor. The press conference had quite a few media and cameras all over. All invited drivers had to give a short speech which was prepared for us by the organizers. Shimo was really nervous and stuck his note card on the chassis so he could read off of it while holding his car (lol), I memorized my speech and it went ok. RC Magazine from Japan was also there to cover this event which I was told was the first for Taiwan.
Anyway… The track had a really long straight way, probably the second longest I’ve raced on (The longest being Homestead Miami). The layout was not difficult and traction was natural, not high grip at first but as the weekend went on, the grip got better. It was one of those tracks that conditions can change rapidly.
My Race Report:
My practice went well as I recorded the fastest lap time on free practice. The car was great and everything seemed to work fine.
When qualifying started, my problems started as well. Only 3 rounds of qualifying and clearly I had issues with something which we now think it is the fuel… We were not using our usual Byron World Formula and had to use fuel supplied locally.Although it was a well known brand of fuel, somehow we had issues. To keep thingsshort, I only had one good run and it wasn’t in the rocket round so at the end of the qualifying, I was actually on the edge of not making it into the A Main, which would have been embarrassing since my trip was paid for. Lucky for me, I squeezed into the A Main at car #10, starting dead last on the grid in the finals.
The final was 50 minutes and I was determined to do well given my lap times were faster than most and I felt my race pace should be fine. Shimo looked like he was not going to change tires but my crew team (Ai and my Dad) practiced tire change and I was going to plan on a tire change 50-60% into the race depending on how I felt. My target was Shimo as I felt good about the car and my pace compared to the local Taiwan drivers.
I started dead last but right off the grid, I moved up quickly to the top 5 within a lap and then after my first fuel stop, I moved into the 3rd position. After car number 2 flamed out around the 6-minute mark or so, I was behind Shimo. After staying close and gaining time with my pit stops, I moved into first place at the half way mark and had close to a lap lead over Shimo. My race pace was fast, and I felt good about the car and overall driving. Ai made sure my pit strategy had the edge and all I needed to do was get close to a lap lead and my tire change should still bring me out in front of Shimo. 35 minutes into the race, I decided to pit, but came out just behind Shimo but knew he had to pit soon as well. Then…. Something went wrong. About 12 minutes remaining in the race, my pace dropped and I could not seem to get power as it came on and off. I thought maybe its my engine overheating but cannot be given the time of the day. I came in to the pit knowing I would lose the lead to Shimo but since we were both about 3 laps ahead of everyone else, I wanted to have my car checked out. Ai backed my engine off a little and sent me out but still no change, in fact, I was struggling to get pace and car just could not be driven. I wanted to keep pace but it was clear that I was dropping back, and soon, I lost the #2 position and #3 position as I was passed with ease. I did not want to quit so I managed to nurse my car back in 4th place finishing a race I should have won… But that is racing I guess.
After the race, we found the problems to be two screws broke off (but did not actually come out) on my chassis, which holds the bulkhead and my rear belt was stripping due to a loose bulkhead. Also, my one way was jammed.
Well, this was a new problem as we have NEVER encountered this before, Ai could not give any reasons and I certainly don’t know why. But the car drove well, and it was fast. I had the fastest lap time during the race and this was definitely one race we let it get away. But I was happy, because I was competitive.
This race was just lots of FUN, I would definitely go again next year!!! The best part of the race was meeting all the Taiwan racers, I had a great time chatting with them late into the nights at A Guo’s Wan Ban Hobby Store, it was just great to meet new friends. Thank you to all my new Taiwan friends for you support and friendship!
Here is a video of the finals: