Saturday, October 29, 2011

From the other side of the moon...

Yeah this is another really late post, coz my internet connection around the kingdom of heaven here is just so slow... So I do apologize for this belated report :P

Anyway, it is no longer a news about our recent crash at the touge, but I'll try to re-iterate the events from my experience... And try to retrace the events that culminated with that crash....

And besides, I have nothing better to do :P

This rivalry between Keisuke and Hanz probably started from a year ago, before we can dispose Hanz at the touge without breaking a sweat... But with his immense talent, I noticed how fast he was learning and then we were caught in a race against time to prep Kate for the coming storm...

At the time, Kate was a rickety old rusting bucket, her chassis would buckle, twist and roll under the load we exert on her at the touge, so trying to control her at the limit was becoming a handful...

With Hanz Neo commanding a 200kg weight advantage against us, with his tricked out Neo and RE-01 rubber, the odds was stacked against us...

And then the inevitable happened, Keisuke was ignominously and thoroughly beaten at our home course >.<

The uphill section was not much different since Kate still had around 40-50hp advantage against Hanz Neo, but the downhill became a slaughter fest... Hanz has taken his first scalp :P

He was mulling the idea of battling me next and his domination of Tekali touge would be complete, but luckily for me, Kate's mending period was over.... From now on was performance enhancement, we were finally starting from ground zero after 3 long years of ownership :P

The first issue we addressed was the banana chassis, we immediately slap in a 10 point roll cage and the result became immediately obvious...

The chassis maladies was no longer a problem, but I know to go against Hanz Neo we would need more than a strenghten chassis, we would need the rubber shoes to match the level of grip he have in command at the touge, no more cheap-o 2nd hand tires... we were pulling off all the stops!

But then tragedy struck, Keisuke crashed at Tekali.... Luckily no one was hurt, but Keisuke emerged from the incident a shattered man.... His self confidence reached a new nadir point.... And we were back to mending Kate again...

And it seems the misfortune happened both ways, Hanz also had a road accident... Rolled his Neo and totaled it to kingdom come....

So for both of us, we were back at the drawing board :P

For us, since Kate had to go through a thorough overhaul, we also decided to give her a massive upgrade... Hanz was not far behind the idea as well, he bought a new Neo CPS and had it undergo the same mods as his previous Neo and more, with the Neo CPS being a better baseline model its potential at the touge became leap and bound better than before...

For Kate, it took us almost a year to have her in running condition and having her suspension properly set up, with a pair of semi slicks up front we were able to harness her new 300hp heart with confidence^^

Her handling became so crisp she was like a big go-kart, shakedowns after shakedowns she was finally ready for an assault at Tekali :)

Unfortunately there was one more event that have a hand on what happened that night, our track day at Kg Gajah....

During that exciting day, our semi slicks expired and out of deperation we had to change it with a cheap Korean tires... It was the widest tires we could find there to fit our extra large wheels :P

Those Korean tires have just enough grip on the street, but when subjected to the rigours of the winding touge the tires were wanting at best :(

Kate became sluggish and slow to respond to any minute steering adjustment, compounding the problem was that the tires would easily lock up under heavy braking, especially the front left tyre... With a bent wheel well, remnant from the last crash.... the suspension geometry became awkward, the front left tire has less grip than the right and would easily lock up....

And when the front left lock up, Kate's handling would just be unresponsive... I had my worries about them tires but my pocket was not really in a position to changed the tires immediately, we had to make do with what we had...

That night was our last hurrah, before I return back to my working world we would flirt one more time with danger at our favourite hole ^^

We first had a solo run each, and it seems that our average speed around the course has increased tremendously that we were both scared out of our wits with each of our runs...

Then we met up with Hanz and he was also shaking for some touge action so off we sped off for our 2nd round of touge ecstasy...

The first battle was me against Hanz, but due to the initial uphill section the power difference was too much that the battle was over just after the first corner >.<

So we divided the course into uphill and downhill section... I waited for Hanz at the peak and once he was back at my heels we sped off for the downhill battle ^^

The night was cold and damp, the grip level was very low... It was so bad that during my downhill battle with Hanz the left front tire locked up on several occasions... Seeing how bad the situation was I decided not to explore my upper limit but just keep Hanz at bay, he was holding on admirebly... A stubborn defiance against the much more powerful Kate...

Only becoz of Hanz driving skill he was able to salvage some challenge in the Neo, once the downhill run was over his heart rate was pumping furiously with adrenaline...

The next round Keisuke took the wheel and off we went for the return leg...

The uphill battle was a no brainer, and for the downhill... Since the return run comprises more high speed corners Hanz werent able to make up the grounds, even though he pushed right to the edge, his efforts was just too little to make any difference... Only with a sudden fog blanketing the touge near the finish line that Keisuke had to slow down which alowed Hanz to catch up..

But that night everyone was pushing periliously close to the edge, and with Hanz proposing to Keisuke that the next battle will be their rematch Keisuke was all fired up, his long awaited rematch....

Since it is no longer fair to run the whole course they decided to only do the downhill leg.... So slowly they climbed to the peak for the starting line and once they reached it Keisuke burst into the night!

Initially he was holding his cool... Then when the course becomes tighter Keisuke tried to up his pace, I noticed his line was becoming messy and then reaching that fateful left hander Keisuke locked the front left wheel... As we were going through the corner Keisuke was taking longer than expected to unlock his wheel.... He has just jumped over the limit of his car control, Kate was no longer in his command.... That must have been the longest few seconds in my entire life... Everything was becoming slow motion up to the point that I thought Keisuke may have been able to save the situation, I thought he had shed enough speed to avert the incoming catastrophy... But that sense of slowness was just an illusion... Kate hit the ditch barrier at such force that send the rock barriers over her nose o.O

She nose dive into the mountain and did not stop for another 5 metres plummeting her head at the mountain side....

Once she stopped my first thought was to get out of the car in case she caught fire, once Keisuke was out as well we knew everyone was ok....

But no matter how much I tried to show Keisuke that the crash no big deal, I can see it in his eyes a fire has just went out...

For me coming to the touge, we are mentally prepared that we will likely have an accident,becoz the nature of motorsport is dangerous in its own right...

Combine it with public road, the hazards are unimaginable... Luckily we were the only casualty that night, no one else was involved.... Taka and Jasril from touge G helped us secure a tow truck and riding with Hanz we towed her to our mechanic shop for that long lonely night....

Kate has once again passed her zenith.... We have to go through the phase of mending her, but for me the hardest would be to mend Keisuke's broken spirit...
And that night even Hanz Neo suffered.... Hanz pushed his Neo so hard that we found out his fuel hose burst.... o.O
Luckily his engine did not catch fire....

The vid below was a compulation of our touge action that night, its just the second part becoz the vid for the first part got corrupted and I was too lazy to fix it :P

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Not again....

Well, I suppose it's no new news that we've, i mean specifically I, had again crashed our good old lady Kate... :-(

And from the looks of things, it'll probably take some time before Old Kate would be up and running again...

Why and how did it occur? Unlike my previous misadventure, this time I'll try to reiterate what happened that fateful night, so that we all might take stock of this rather unfortunate event, that hopefully, we will grow the wiser out of all this sadness...

It began, as always, rather slowly... Ryousuke had been making a lot of pretty lonely touge runs while I was getting myself lost at Miri and Brunei over the weekend. The excitement of Bukit Putus was still thick in the air. I was craving for one last hurrah with Ryousuke, before he would venture out into the world again. So thus, such was how fertile the ground was that led to the culmination of the excitement that burst into flames.

I came back from work as always, excited like a lost puppy that has just found its owner. To add to the fuel, that evening I had a rather agreeable run in the monster GTR of my greatly respected boss. My spirit was high. I was gearing for an all night party with Old Kate at our favourite dancing floor.

Ryousuke and I thus went out, not looking for a crowd, just wanted Hanz as company. Hanz is always an agreeable company, and besides, I missed him. Haven't seen him for so long. Unfortunately Hanz couldn't make it at that time. So it was just us two.

It rained that evening, so the Touge was a little damp. But things were clearing up, and so we made our run. An initial sweep, and it was a-go. It was a really dark night, with the clouds covering the moon, the only guiding light was Old Kate's rather unreliable headlights. But it's not a situation we haven't faced before. And so we took the plunge, and Ryousuke blasted through the touge.

It scared the heck out of me. I was so scared, that when I drove, i was paralysed by fear, and could hardly hustle Old Kate through the touge at any dramatic pace. The shot of adrenaline wasn't enough to overcome the fear, and at the end of my run, my neck hurts from all the paralysing fear rather than any great lateral Gs.

We had enough, I couldn't bear another run riding shotgun with Ryousuke, nor was he willing to go another run with me (despite running more slowly than him, about 2 seconds off... yup, we timed our run that night). And so we went off, almost calling it a night. As we were heading back, we discussed each others different driving style, Ryousuke being very aggressive, holding tightly to Kate's rein, not giving Kate any space to go adrift. While I was more subtle, letting Kate wander off a bit at the exits, and only holding on when Kate was going a bit too astray. Ryousuke's driving was on the point of violent and precise, while mine was like on rails, and seemingly gliding around. I took Ryousuke's comments in mind, thinking I may need to be more assertive with Kate.

But the night was just starting for Hanz, and he invited us for a drink at some luxurious hole in KL. We came, had a few chat, a few drinks, met up with some great folks (even a professional driver from Singapore O.O) and watched two of the most desirable cars drive away, an Audi R8 and a brand new GTR. Things were looking good.

With Hanz around, we were pumped up for another go at the Touge. Mostly because now we can ride shotgun in Hanz's superbly stable Neo, and not the terrifying Kate.

When we got there, Ryousuke led the run uphill. Kate having so much power at tap, blasted away from Hanz's view. Such was the difference now. Even with all the skills and talent Hanz could muster, it could not bridge the power gap Kate now commands.

When we reached the downhill point, Ryousuke slowed down and waited for Hanz. And that was the start of one of the most greatest and dramatic downhill duel run I have ever witnessed. Ryousuke gave it all, locking the left wheels occasionally. But Hanz gave some more. He would deftly oversteer his Neo in the turns, adjusting its trajectory, and slammed the throttle until the exit.

Ryousuke was able to get away, but not by a really great margin. Such was Hanz's superb knife edge skills.

At the end of the run, Ryousuke and Hanz both complained how slippery the touge was. Hanz said he had never felt his Neo 'floating' like that. Partly because of the immense speed he was taking the corners, and partly maybe because the road was actually slippery. But still, that didn't stopped us anyway.

We switched drivers. I took the helm of Kate and Ryousuke rode shotgun with Hanz. As usual, the uphill run was a walk in the park. Hanz simply cannot catch up, for the simple fact that Kate's massive power gave it unrivaled exit speeds. As I went, Ryousuke's comments lingered, and I tried to be a little more aggressive with Kate.

I waited for Hanz at the downhill, and once he arrived, sped off. Since the downhill of the return run is basically a high speed course, Hanz also couldn't keep up simply because of Kate's pedal to the metal power. But nearing the end, as the course turns tighter, a very heavy fog slumped over the touge which forced me to slow down so much, that Hanz caught up.

Regardless, I wasn't as fast as Ryousuke, but it was tacitly clear, Hanz could not keep up on the downhill return run. Despite Hanz being faster on the tighter turns, the fact that the earlier high speed portion gave so much of an advantage, the tight sections was too late and too few to give Hanz much advantage over us. That observation also lingered at the back of my mind.

Then, while contemplating to call it a night, i don't remember who came up with the idea, but we decided to have a rematch of my ignominious defeat at Hanz's Neo a long while back. Since it is unfair to incorporate the uphill run, we decided just to fight it off at the downhill section.

We then slowly climbed to the peak. I was afraid, afraid of losing control. Losing control of Kate, losing control of myself, all mixed up to swell and swerve in my stomach. The road was getting damp, the night was cold, surface temperature was dropping, and many thoughts lingering in the background. Despite it all, we took the plunge, not knowing that we won't be surfacing again that night.

At first it was going great. I didn't want to gamble on the entry, braked pretty early and heavily, took the turns gingerly, and maximise Kate's superior accelerating ability on the exits. Hanz was falling behind, very slowly.

I realized Hanz dropping behind, but as the course turns tighter, Hanz was holding his ground, and even sometimes making up the distance. I felt I needed to extend the gap, if I want to survive Hanz's slaughter at the very tight last portion of the downhill course, and those lingering thoughts came to fore.

Hanz took everything he got to keep up, going at the very knife-edge of limits, and sometimes went over it. A total of 3 times actually. But in all 3 times, he was able to keep things together, and continue the fight. Thank God nothing ever happened to him. God smiles generously on Hanz, and his skills make sure those smiles didn't go to waste.

As for myself, I tried to up the ante. I tried to push the entry a bit more, squeeze the exit that bit of fraction faster. But the increase speed was scrambling my on-rail, gliding rhythm. It was messing with my lines. I couldn't place Kate where I wanted her before the turn catches us. Each successive corner forced me to be more forceful on Kate, each time breaking my rhythm.

And the eventful corner came up. It was a long right hander, that turns tighter, then a slight left and right kink, and another long left hander that exits quite tightly. I messed up on the first long right hander, took another line that made me exit the turn faster, but not able to properly set Kate up for the coming left and right kink. The left and right was a mess, and before I could gather Kate up, the long left hander came.

Hanz in the meanwhile, was falling behind, my increase pace pressured him to push it further. And the 3 incidents came, and he was finally about to give up, thinking after that long left hander, I would leave him too far back to make up the distance, and so resigned to take it easy afterwards.

I came upon the left hander, braked Kate a little early, trying to scrub off all those excess speed Kate was carrying. Her left front tyre locked up, that achille's heel of Kate. That messed up left wheel well, that also messed up the suspension's geometry. All that adds up to a very sluggish left turn and very easy to lock up left wheel.

Her left wheel locked up, I eases off the brakes, but the wheel was still locked. The left wheel lock up was so bad, that we need to almost, if not entirely, lift off the brakes to cure it. Ryousuke was able to cure this by his highly refined cadence braking technique. I on the other hand, had emphasized threshold braking too greatly that I neglected practicing any other techniques.

I lifted off a bit more, the wheel still remained locked up. The corner was turning in, and the ditch and mountain side was coming at a more alarming rate. We still had quite a long way to go, so I didn't really panic and thought I could remedy the situation. Release the lock and turn Kate in, so I thought.

Again I lifted off a bit more, but the wheel remained locked up. The ditch and mountain side was now too close for comfort. Out of sheer instinct, I began to try to turn Kate in by turning the wheel. Thus shaving more traction from the tyres, making it more harder to unlock the wheels.

I lifted off a bit more and the wheel was still locked up. Kate wouldn't turn, I was suffering from a very bad case of understeer, the kind Ryousuke suffered at Kg. Gajah. It was getting too late to save the situation. I bailed out from the race, saving Kate was more important than continuing the race.

I straightened out, and dig in the brakes, trying to scrub off as much speed as possible. Trying to stop before we hit the fast looming mountain side. At the least, trying to minimize the damage should Kate nose dive into the ditch or the mountain side.

Now both tyres locked up and it was too late to try to save the situation. Instead of trying to cure the lock, I instinctively dig in the brakes even further, making saving the dire situation now impossible.

The ditch came up, Kate smashed through the low stone wall bordering the ditch, flying the stones up and over Kate. Kate was going too fast and flew over the ditch, nose dived into the mountain side, and became lodged in the dew ridden soil of the mountain side.

It was all in slow-mo, and I could hardly believe it when it happened. The misery of it all was then upon us, I had failed. I failed to properly gauge my ability and Kate's capability, I failed to quickly remedy the locked wheel, and finally failed to save the situation all together.

The fact that the air was damp, the surface temperature was low, giving quite low traction to Kate, using cheap korean wheels upfront, not having actually familiarized myself with Kate's braking limits, was no excuse for my catastrophic failure. It was a simple matter of lapse of concentration, a re-emerging self-damaging confidence, a burning desire to win, an insatiable lust to redeem one's pride and a disregard for safety, all culminated in the great disaster that has finally fallen again upon our weary shoulders.

Kate was again the victim of my incompetence. Kate, and Ryousuke's wallet. Though I am now more financially empowered, but I cannot dream of mustering the financial power to again bring Kate to her feet. I have failed catastrophically. I cannot even own up to my mistake, I cannot even at the very least muster all my financial ability to fix Kate, as I have a family, and they have their rights over me. I wanted to start a saving, and give my lovely wife the things she deserve, the things that I up till now could not give her. And to my little bundle of joy, how i wish I could lavishly spend upon thee. But now, I am tied up. My debts are unpaid, and now, even more have come to lay claim. Just as I was about to claw myself up from the depth of poverty, now I am plunged even deeper into it. All these facts lay heavy on me and I cannot but reflect, reflect and reflect again. My personal safety was never my concern, but the aftermath, the emotional and financial aftermath, can break one's spirit.

There was a time,
When the world was at my feet...

There was a time,When youth played in the gardens of my sleep...

But the world has awaken me,
My youth has deserted me,
Darkness now looms over me,
And this pit now conquers me...

My failings and failures,
My disappointment and blunders,
Let it all pass,
But yet it claws upon my wretched path...

One cannot but reflect...

P.s: I would like to take this opportunity to thank Taka and Jasril from Touge-G for their indispensable help in our time of need as well as Hanz, for everything you've done to help us and stick it out that night. Thanks a million. Only Allah could repay the help and kindness you've all given us that unfortunate night. God bless you all.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Bukit Putus Track Day

I guess this is old news by now but what the heck =.=

Last weekend Keisuke and I went to our first sanctioned event outside of the tracks xD
Although its no time attack competition but nevertheless it is a sanctioned events held at the confines of the touge organized by Wheelspin Motorsport^^

How much better can it get? no cops to bugger us, no incoming traffic to worry about... but the touge roads all just for us to reach for the sky ;)

The night before the track day I went over and stay overnight at Keisuke's in laws place in Senawang, our plan was to go there early and have fun all day... unfortunately our plan went AWOL :P

We see our first daylight at half past 9 in the morning o.O getting ready and having breakfast eats up the minutes to 10 o'clock :P
We thought we have missed the registration time for the event and we were having doubts as to whether to join them or not... but we figured since we're here... why not give it a shot^^

So after breakfast off we went to Bukit Putus... once we're there our self esteem took another death blow >.<

Track cars and semi pro drivers everywhere o.O

We were starting to think to ourselves... why the heck we came all the way here to get our ass kicked? xD
We quietly hid Kate behind one of the tow trucks and try to blend in with the crowds :P
While trying to blend in we met our friends from Touge G who was there since last night having some midnight BBQ at the peak^^

We were still having doubts as to register ourselves but after some persuasion from Taka (or maybe some encouragements ;) we decided to gung ho... ditch our stupid self esteem and go all guns blazing^^

We registered 2 drivers and as we were filling up the indemnity form they were already about to start the recce >.<
They hurriedly register us and off we went joining the convoy for the recce... behind the last safety car :P

Obviously being among beat up Rally Cars and local enthusiast car... Kate stood up like a sore thumb o.O

She was getting far more attention than any of me and Keisuke was comfortable with :P

After the recce we made it downhill and line up at the start line for our first heat^^
The marshal was quite surprised we didnt bring any helmet with us :P
We completely forgot xD
Having always doing illegal touge runs... never before it cross our mind to have a helmet at the touge :P
But the marshal was being nice and he let us do the first heat even without our helmet :P
So Keisuke was at the wheel and jump off the starting line with all 300 horses spinning the rear wheel^^

It must be a sight to behold, with Keisuke riding her all the way to the rev limiter, popping up flames and crackling with all 300hp, screaming away in an angry banshee scream... it must probably be like witnessing a Group B monster off the line :P

But then again, the road was so slippery due to the previous night rain... slippery and greasy to be exact... we could hardly put the power down and the wheels would just slip.... we can't even properly heat up the tires and were lacking in grip all the way to the top... not to mention it was the first time any of us test our fate there at Bukit Putus so Keisuke wasnt really going all balls out up the hill >.<

But nevertheless we were starting to get the rhythm of the touge, so we headed back down and patiently wait for our next heat... unfortunately when it was our turn the marshal had decided it was too risky to let us run without any safety helmets so they had us turn around from the starting line and get ourselves a couple of helmet before we can continue xD

So we ignominiously turn around and scamper away from the crowd back to Senawang :P
Since it was almost lunch break so we had our lunch at Keisuke's in-laws place and went off to find ourselves a pair of helmets >.<

Luckily we bought a second hand helmet worth RM20 from the local bike shop, although it's not Sirim approve it doesnt matter for us as long as its dirt cheap >.<

Once we arrived back at Bukit Putus we were greeted with a host of supercars o.O
 A Bosozoku style Toyota Crown? :P
Keisuke doing the 'Redsuns pose'
The crowd just gets bigger >.<
And the beautiful F20 engine AE86 already had an accident and was missing its front bumper... it was a grim premonition for us o.O

If the AE86 could lose control up there at the touge... what are our chances of not facing the same fate? >.<

That thought linger in my mind as I prepared to make my launch.... I have to admit my launch was not a perfect one... although must be very crowd friendly since I made quite a smoke spectacle :P

The first half going uphill I was being cautious, not even going into 3rd gear since I was still assessing the road conditions and getting the rhythm right, but once I was getting my confidence we hit higher gear^^

I was controlling the slides to a minimum trying to extract that extra speed out of the corners... the sound Kate made at the hills must be heard to believe^^
She was popping up flames and screeching the tires to the excitement of the crowd^^
The second half of my run was sheer adrenaline fun^^ we forgot about our inferiority complex and even sometimes bordering on dangerous since this was still my first hot lap up Bukit Putus >.<

But all good things must come to an end and we parked up the peak... once our adrenaline settles down we were split whether to make a huge turn around using the highway or just make the downhill turn when the next stream of participants started arriving... the AE86, some wira rally cars and Daihatsu....

As we saw everyone lining up for the downhill we just decided to join in the crowd :P
But our confidence level was top notch at the time we decided to please the crowds lining up the road going downhill.... once we see a hairpin corner with clear exit we burn the rubber and make a simple power over drift ^^
 Heading back down from our heat^^

The next heat Keisuke was at the wheel again, but this time we had made a new friend who is a rally co-driver and driving a 1.3 Daihatsu rally car... which we've decided to make a 2 car run up the hill^^

This was getting exciting... a touge battle with our talent the limit, Keisuke was getting pumped up^^

After being properly beaten at Kg. Gajah last time around this time we're concentrating on keeping our heads cool when the action gets hot... so Keisuke jumps off the starting line with the launch precision that never ceases to amaze me and with so much power difference the battle is probably over just after the starting line >.<

Keisuke made such a healthy lead that he never really saw whats the distance between him and our new friend up the back...
And Keisuke being far more comfortable with Kate than he was in the morning started to drift her through the tight turns....

Seeing how excited the crowd was, Keisuke was getting excited as well... he started drifting at all the corners >.<
Even up to the point where we were sliding outward towards the guard rail but Keisuke would just continue the drift without any worries ^^

It was sheer fun!!! Once we reached the peak his time was somewhat off my time by around 2 seconds probably but he was having so much fun that he commented afterwards "I know its not fast... but I was just riding the crowd"^^

Unfortunately that was our last run of the day... Keisuke made our traditional power over drift around the corners with crowd just to please them one last time^^

Once we're back down... we say our goodbyes and off we went our separate ways... I dropped off Keisuke at Senawang and headed back to KL with a happy grin and satisfaction of a fun filled day at that tight winding Bukit Putus Touge^^

Keisuke did took a video recording of my run up the hill but unfortunately we ran out of memory to record Keisuke's run... and since the camera belongs to his inlaws... we forgot to take the video as well xD
So hopefully we'll get the video in the future ;)
 Before I left I had a meeting with the future world champion xD

ps : pictures are courtesy of Taka, Allen Aznan and Mohd Shahjehan Maamin