This year the final round of AOC attracted over 200 entries. I had to go to school on Thursday so I arrived in Japan late at night. Thanks to Hara-tune for picking us up. Friday was scheduled for free practice, but because of so many people, the schedule was really tight so we had limited practice. My car felt pretty good in the beginning due to the fact that Hara-tune already found a base setup for me the day before. I just had to get used to the track layout and the track condition. Once I had more confidence in my driving, we had to make a few adjustments to the car to suit the constant changing track conditions. The car got better each run and my lap times were on pace. I think it was a good start for me.
The next day we had 45 minutes of free practice early in the morning followed by 3 rounds of qualifying. We ran a set of new tires in the morning to make sure everything was all right but it seemed like we did not have enough traction. We made a few small adjustments with the camber links and shocks for first round of qualifying. The first round of qualifying was a safe run for me. The car was not that good with new tires so the car kind of pushed throughout the run. The time was not that fast but it was good enough for a top 10 run. Hara-tune and I had a discussion after qualifying for a possible setup change for round 2 but we decided not to change anything due to the fact that 2nd run tires work better with my car. In round 2, my car was really bad in the beginning but it got better throughout the run. My out lap was 1 second off my average so that cost me a lot, I also had one flip during the run but that did not cost me that much time. I still managed to run a top 10 run so it wasn’t that bad. Now I knew that with 2 top 10 runs already, I could push a little more for the next one. The third round was late at night so the track had huge traction, my car was super good and I felt confident with the car but I pushed a little too hard and made a mistake that cost me over 4 seconds. I was a little disappointed but overall it was not a bad day for me.
We got back the hotel late and had to get up early again so that we could make the morning practice rounds. We tried different shock springs in the morning but it made the car twitchier so we reverted back to yesterday’s setup. Round 4 of qualify was a DNF for me. My car was not as good as yesterday’s last round but I pushed too hard which resulted into a mistake that broke my steering knuckle. This time Scotty decided to count 2 out of 4 rounds so my points was only good enough for 7th spot in the main. I was a little disappointed because my car was good enough for a much higher position. I knew that starting in the back would be hard to overtake because of how narrow the track was. The main was not that good for me; I was not pleased with my driving. I got into an accident early on and the tires got dirty which made the car hard to drive. My final position was 9th. The PRO 5 worked really great this weekend and I am happy to see the progress with the car and we will keep fighting for better results next time.
Thanks to Hara-tune, Hiro, and Andy for all the help throughout the weekend. I had a lot of fun and it’s always nice to see everyone at the racetrack.