Tag Archives: GTC

Sepang 12 hours 2015 Debrief

Sepang 12h was one of those must-do events I’ve been contemplating for ages, and now I could say I’ve finally done it. In it’s current reincarnation the event was put together by the SRO  together with SIC (Sepang International Circuit) as a precursor to the upcoming SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge, which in the future will include the Bathurst 12h event in Australia as well as the crown event of the Blancpain GT series: Spa 24h in Belgium.

Things came together for the event thanks to a friend’s wedding I wanted to attend in Bangkok the week prior. I was very excited that things came together so nicely, though the actual registration was a bit of an up and down experience. I really wanted to try my hand doing something new this time around. After reaching out to some contacts I had hoped to be in Pit Lane as a Pit & Grid marshal. But I noticed some resistance from the very beginning especially since I wanted to bring a fellow Singaporean marshal along to give him a new experience. After a little more inquiry it was clear that Pit wasn’t going happen for me, so I asked my friends at Turn 6 to take me back to make sure I get to volunteer and not become a spectator. My buddy Joey was accepted by a friend that chiefs a post on Turn 7. And we were set to go. When I arrived at the track I discovered that I was indeed put on the Pit & Grid team. I felt bad, and wanted to see if I could work at least one day in the pits and then move back to my team trackside, but that wasn’t possible. And I’m sure I made a number of people from the Pit & Grid team very unhappy.

But the day to day work at Turn 6 went along very smoothly. It was fantastic to see the team again, though many of them weren’t present and we worked on a skeleton crew of just a handful of people. I took advantage of the opportunity to visit Turn 7 a bunch of times over the weekend, where they gave me a chance to Blue flag a little and that made me very happy.

Having a rental car for the first time in Malaysia allowed me to visit the pit lane several times over the weekend whenever we had some free time. So I got plenty of pictures from the garages and ultimately from the Pit Walk on race day. I even managed to bring a British marshal who was spectating, to check out the station set up (with permission from the post chief of course). It was amazing.

The race itself was relatively uneventful. This being the rainy season caused two red flags to be displayed during the 12 hour race. Resulting in some much needed breaks for us to take around dinner time while the skies opened up and there was a spectacular lightning storm overhead. It was pretty beautiful. At the start of the event the local Clearwater Ferrari team jumped ahead which I thought was predictable. But they ran into trouble with repeated tire blowouts. And then a number of other cars took the lead including a beautiful livery Thai Ferrari. A french McLaren jumped ahead, while the Bentley’s seemed to struggle mid pack. And then Audi took the lead until the very end, winning the race (this being an SRO event, that seemed predictable also).

And then after the feature race there was a local race day on Sunday featuring Formula 4 SEA cup and Caterham Racing Series. The day was incredibly sleepy and only got exciting when the skies opened up again with a much heaving downpour than the day before. The day ended with a fantastic dinner with my fellow Teammates at a local TomYum restaurant around the corner from the track… I absolutely loved this opportunity and would love to return again.

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Can’t wait to return to Sepang International Circuit again!

Post Card from Sepang 12 Hour Endurance Race in Malaysia

My last event of the 2015 racing season took me to Malaysia for the Sepang 12 hour at Sepang International Circuit.

This was by far one of the more exciting events I’ve done this season, for a variety of reasons. First, I was back in Southeast Asia, perhaps my favorite region in the world to visit. I got to catch up with a bunch of friends I’ve made over the past few visits to Sepang, and I even managed to sneak in a fellow Singaporean marshal to volunteer with me to get a new experience for him.

All in all a great experience. A typical Malaysian weather to experience, and some excellent international machinery on display.

I loved it thru and thru!

Some pix from Pit Walk:

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Stay tuned for more pictures from the post…

SportsCar Grand Prix of Mosport debrief

What an incredible event! The ALMS Grand Prix of Mosport at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park was my second year in a row participating with MMS – Motorsport Marshalling Services crew from Ontario, Canada there. And although the racing itself was probably less exciting than it was last year, I had a far better time participating this year. And this is why: friends!

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I had signed up to volunteer Toronto Indy to optimize my time spent in Canada. As usual going into Ontario was a breeze which is always refreshing. I got super lucky to be hosted for the Toronto Indy by CouchSurfing friends that I first met in Korea during the F1 event there last year. The Indy race was OK, I was assigned a wonderful corner, but I didn’t really work it except for one day when I kind of got to play at the crash zone. Long story short, the true reason I went up to Canada was ALMS. This was my fourth time participating in the series this year, and they’re only up to five races so far, not bad!       The only one I missed was Sebring because it was the same weekend as Australian GP.

So heading to Bowmanville for ALMS at Mosport, I was again hosted by a wonderful CouchSurfer who let me use her house for a few days between the races where I had absolutely nothing to do but eat poutine for lunch and surf the web. That worked out really well. What was also nice is the fact she got a new pet, a nice beagle named Kip that sounds exactly like my Maxi Max. For the actual ALMS race I crashed in the marshal camping area using Frank and Judy’s pop up, which was very nice of them to let me use. I had worked with these awesome Canadians for the past two Montreal F1 races, as well as the ALMS last year and Toronto Indy a week prior. Great people!

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Once the race weekend rolled around, some more new friends showed up from the States, specifically a trio of Detroit marshals whom I have invited to blog on this web site. I feel silly confessing I was wrong by making semi-sarcastic comments on my facebook about Canada being predictable. Of course I didn’t get selected to work the paid test day for ALMS weekend, but I was encouraged to volunteer which is what I came to do in the first place. And of course I wouldn’t get to blue flag because that’s a speciality typically reserved for the locals, but I was wrong on both accounts. I got some gas money for working the test day and was the designated blue flagger for the entire ALMS weekend. Which was beyond fantastic, special thanks to Richard and Barbara Dobbs of MMS whom I had the pleasure of working Detroit GP together with, whom I’m sure made this all happen for me. Thank you!

The weather over the weekend went from extreme heat to extreme rain, to moderate cold. Racing was good, but not very spectacular. And I was very much busy the entire time blue flagging. Happy beyond belief! Wish more race weekends were like this one. My CouchSurfer friends were also recruited to try their hand working the Start/Finish stand with Judy, which is awesome… they came out to the race to spectate and we spend a lot of quality time together hanging out, including a quick trip for more poutine, my last meal before heading home to New Jersey.

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CouchSurfers Will & Holly, my recent recruits to marshal at Mosport doing Start/Finish

New Media from ALMS Northeast GP 2012

It wasn’t that this year’s Northeast GP was bad, it wasn’t… the constant and lengthy battle in the P1 prototype field, the P2, LMPC, GT and GTC was exciting… the problem was there was only two true contenders in P1… and two true contenders in P2… and only a few in GTC, etc. But even that wasn’t the problem… My problem was again with me managing my expectations. I got extremely lucky with my experiences last year, stuff that doesn’t always happen… and despite the fact I worked the weekend with my bestest flagging friends, shit just didn’t happen like it did last year! And I just found pix to prove it, enjoy!

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Photo credit to Chris Raftis: www.flickr.com/photos/gargos/sets/72157634203956491

Of course in 2013 there were a lot more factors that affected my feelings. My goal is always to stay positive no matter how realistic/pessimistic my posts sound. Do read my original post about the 2012 Northeast GP…

Northeast Grand Prix ALMS debrief

I was not feeling it. The whole atmosphere of this year’s Northeast GP was somehow off. It was supposed to be amazing. After all I had just returned from Europe working the actual Le Mans… I was going to work with my friends at Lime Rock, what more could I ask for? Well Friday night I was just one bad decision away from going home and not returning.

Luckily I stayed. Saturday morning, on race day I was still out of it. I asked my buddy Tim where he and Jessie were stationed and he was like: “we’re together dude!” which made me feel a lot better, I mean we were team JRT after all, even though I was totally thirdwheeling the entire weekend. I also found out we were at Turn 1, which made me go “WOW!” that’s one hell of a station to work for ALMS. And finally when the flag chief called station assignments I discovered I was made corner captain, which just made me laugh. Why me? Usually Tim likes this sort of thing… but at least I knew I wasn’t going to be stuck doing something I wouldn’t enjoy. In that spirit, I made station assignments based on people’s requests. It may sound a lot looser than it actually is, but I know from my experience when I’m doing something I enjoy doing, the time flies.

Thanks to the heat the time didn’t fly during the race though. It felt like the exact 2 hours and 45 minutes that it was. Unfortunately for Tim and Jessie, they were marooned across track at the outpost for the entire race. I tried to “create” opportunities to cross with the only full course yellow until that point occurring at our station thanks to a high-sighted prototype challenge car, but it wasn’t happening. All in all, the race was OK… not the greatest ALMS race I’ve been to, not even as good as I remember last year’s race to be, but it was good. Something was holding it back from being amazing. Not sure what.

The station assignment was quite perfect though. We were able to do the grid walk for the Le Man’s style start, and mingle with teams and drivers before the big event. It gave Tim and Jessie a final opportunity to sticker up cars they didn’t get a chance to over the past few days, and they did a spectacular job doing it. These guys have some serious balls doing what they did… I on the other hand would be contacting the organizers, the team head offices, etc. and probably getting rejected at every step of the way, while they went there and had the driver’s put the stickers on the cars, that’s about as good as it gets.

It will be sad not to see prototypes racing at Lime Rock Park next year with the United SportsCar Series… its the second track I’ve lost in my home area in two years, after NJMP lost Grand-Am… but I guess I’ll have to travel elsewhere to volunteer…

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The highlight of the weekend was a call I requested that Brendan make to Race Control in the early stages of the race. Pat from Watkins Glen had complained that the blue flag was shredding off the handle, every time we used it. And at turn 1 we used it aggressively. I had a quick look at it, and told him that that’s how flags generally are with the NY SCCA region… but being corner captain and allowing myself to start and finish the race on blue flag, I found my right hand was cramping after only 15 minutes into the race, because I was clinging onto the cloth part of the flag. The grip was so tight because I worried I’d lose the flag when waiving it in a spirited fashion to allow the prototypes to zoom past the slower GT/GTC traffic. Brendan reported our blue flag catastrophic failure to Race Control whom promptly delivered a new flag for us to flog 🙂

Petit Le Mans – ALMS season finale @ Road Atlanta

I faced a real dilemma deciding whether to jump on the opportunity to go to Korea for the F1 GP. Fortunately after quickly checking flights for the return trip, I realized I could have my cake and eat it too… You see I had already made plans to go to Road Atlanta for the 15th annual Petit Le Mans, the deciding race of the American Le Mans series. Going to Korea meant that I would miss a big chunk of that racing, luckily thanks to good availability with American Airlines AAdvantage, I was able to arrive just in time for ALMS practice.

Besides the flights, my major concern was cost of rental car and accommodation. Luckily Sixt came through big time. While all other car rental companies, including Sixt, were showing rates in the $30 a day range, there was a promo at Sixt for $19.99 Chevy Cruze in select cities, including Atlanta airport. Luck like this doesn’t happen to me often, I jumped on the deal saving a significant chunk of money. Similarly, CouchSurfing came through as I found a host in Gainsville, Georgia just twelve miles away from the track.

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The racing itself was spectacular. In addition to the usual suspects, a number of teams came from Europe bringing with them beautiful prototypes I haven’t seen in action before. Several teams from France, UK, Ireland and Switzerland were represented, including a gorgeous Lotus prototype that set the pole and won the race, giving the Muscle Milk #6 a good run for the money (had it not been crashed out by the #34 Green Hornet Porsche, it would have probably won though… the same Green Hornet that smashed the #0 Deltawing making it rollover in free practice).

The most interesting part about Petit Le Mans was the fact that it was an endurance race. My previous longest race was a Six Hour at the Glen for Grand Am series, Petit Le Mans was 10 hours or 1,000 miles, going well into the night where the only lights on the circuit often enough were those from the cars. It was super cool blue flagging the race in the dark, trying to make out the prototypes vs. GT’s and keeping track who’s in the lead. But I quickly got the hang of it, which surprised even myself.

I had a really wonderful time meeting a lot of new people from the Atlanta Region, many employees of Road Atlanta with lots of experience working for Panoz whom recently sold the ALMS series to Grand Am/NASCAR. It was quite interesting to chat with them on what the future of sports car racing in US has in store. I’m looking forward to go back to this track for sure, after driving around a few times it really is amazing, the elevation changes rival those of Mosport in Canada .

Northeast Grand Prix – ALMS at Lime Rock Park

I had no idea what to expect with the American Le Mans Series running the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. I can’t say I get nervous anymore, even with Formula 1 now things are pretty calm and cool, but there was a bit of anxiety… if that’s the right word to use. Le Mans series of course is what I grew up watching in Ukraine as a child. From what I’ve heard before its a more advanced series than the Rolex Grand Am. The reality however was somewhat of mixed feelings.

In the end it was a relatively low key event. Sure it had the celebrity clout and the army of camera people following the action, but the field consisted of only 29 cars. Prototype 1 class or LMP1 only had 3 cars… similar fields for LMP2. The Prototype Challenge or LMPC was about on par speed-wise with the faster GT cars, so blue flagging was interesting but very exciting at that. Getting used to the classes made me guess a few times, but it worked out.

For Friday’s practice I was at station 8 or for the purpose of ALMS “the uphill” where a chicane was used at the bottom of the hill. To my surprise many of the GT and GTC class cars were actually pulling away from the LMPC cars that were nearly side by side with them at the bottom of the hill before the chicane. Luckily on raceday I was at “pit entry” which is Lime Rock station 12… or basically the main straight after the downhill. A station I worked before and a fantastic spot to blue flag from.

The race finished under double-yellow/caution as a Patrón Ferrari smashed into the tire wall at the bottom of the hill. So both days of the event I was at a corner that had lots of action. Great times, some excellent new contacts made like Maurice from the Netherlands and the owner of ORANGEMEN.NL web site… my future source for European marshalling opportunities I expect. Being at pit entry put me smack in the middle of the grid action and great photo ops with the grid girls. Next stop Mosport in Canada.  Stay tuned for more. Here are some pix:

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PS. almost forgot… got to push Patrick Dempsey’s LMP2 from main straight into the pit lane and down to tech inspection after the prototype ran out of fuel at the end of the race.

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Pro Photos courtesy of David Wilks: RaceShotsResource.com