Jake Spencer’s Japanese Diary – Day Five
It was a disappointing end to what was a great weekend in Suzuka.
In the final heat race on the Sunday morning, I made a great start from 16th on the grid to get into the top 10 after a few corners. As the team was trying a few set up changes on my kart, I was hoping to have a clean race however mid way through the first lap there was a large crash ahead of me which led to the track being completely blocked. Unfortunately I could not avoid the collision and the kart suffered too much damage to continue the race.
As a result of a DNS, DNF and 15th in the three heat races, I started the pre final in 28th position. The pre final was a crazy race as it started to rain during the first few laps. I had a strong race and managed to finish 16th, which was then relegated up to 14th as a result of after race infringements.
The 24 lap final was my strongest race of the weekend. Starting out of 14th, I managed to get up to as high as 8th during the early part of the race. The racing was out of control, with the drivers from Japan in particular attempting passing moves from nearly four or five kart lengths behind the kart in front. They do not care if they make kart contact or lose contact with the leaders, all that they seem to care about is getting in front of the next kart! As the race went on I started to lose bottom end power out of the slower corners. I thought that I had overturned the low jet and it had too much fuel, so I leaned it off a little, however it turns out that it was the opposite and the engine was actually starving for fuel off the slow corners. This led to the engine seizing on lap 14, ending my race.
I was a little bit disappointed not to get a result after putting myself in a strong position however that is motorsport. I was amazed at the level of talent of the drivers from Europe and Japan. Almost all the drivers in the field aspire to be professional racers. Many of the European drivers rarely go to school as they race almost everyone weekend in different countries all over the world. They have all been coached and trained by teams such as CRG, Tony Kart, Kosmic and Birel from a young age and this is why they are so fast. Most of the Japanese drivers are supported by local car and tire manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Bridgestone and Yokohama. I found this to be one of the main differences between karting in Australia and Japan, as very rarely will you see local Australian companies such as Holden or Ford Australia heavily funding younger drivers to help them make a career out of motorsport.
The whole weekend was an amazing experience and I would love to have the opportunity to race overseas again in the future. I learnt so much through racing for the Kosmic Racing Department including how they approach the set up of the kart as well as data analysis. I cannot say enough good things about the team. They are an extremely professional organisation and I would highly recommend them to anyone who wishes to race overseas. I was also lucky enough to meet Roberto Robazzi who is the owner of OTK Karts (Tony Kart, Kosmic, FA Kart and Exprit). Mr Robazzi would often come over and give his opinion on how to improve the kart which was a great help.
There are many people who I must thank for making the trip to Japan possible:
- The Australian Karting Association who put up the prize money for me to race overseas after winning the 2011 CIK Championship
- Remo and Sabrina Luciani for helping me organise the drive with the Kosmic Racing Department, as well as their ongoing support
- Lee Hanatschek and Craig Denton who helped me organise all the required documents to race overseas including entry forms, international licences etc
- The Kosmic Racing Department for their help over the weekend
- Mum and Dad for flying to Japan and supporting me