James Greenwood diary from Japan

Friday started wet but was going really awesome! I was roughly 2-3 tenths up on everyone in the wet, but as the day progressed and dried up, our pace didn’t improve. We have been working really hard to gain engine speed, but our equipment isn’t up to scratch with the others. I’m lucky to have a pretty great handling kart to help through the infield section, but we believe there is up to .9s a lap to be improved on down the straights alone.
Today (Saturday) we had one 20min practice session and tried some new carburettor settings but found it didn’t work. After pulling in and making a few changes, I still wasn’t able to improve on my time but the engine felt slightly different. Between practice and Qualifying, there was an extensive drivers briefing, which we sat through and had an interpretor, Leo, explain everything to us (He is the Lee Hanatchek of Japan, running around organising all the media stuff and trying to look after us).

Going into qualifying, there were major changes made to the engine and gearing, but we weren’t able to make a huge leap forward. The 15min qualifying session was different, with only the last 7mins being recorded. So we treated the first 8mins as a practice session and made a few chassis settings in pit lane before heading out to qualify. In my group, I was only able to qualify 20th, but we are hoping that a complete engine change will give me back the pace I need for tomorrows heat race, determining where we start for the final.

We topped off the day by running around the main car circuit in golf buggies, (a highlight of the day was seeing a suped up Tarago flying around the track!) and then joined the Yamaha crew for the massive welcoming party with a stage welcome to us international drivers and a huge dinner with all sorts of traditional food.