Event: Idlers 2015 12 Hour Enduro – Twin Ring Motegi V.2

Watching the beginning of the race unfold through my camera lens served as a great way to get me even more pumped up for my first outing on track.  I spent a good hour running back and forth between shooting in the paddock and watching lap times drop on the garage monitor as the drivers began warming up to the conditions.

NDF_4984-EditThe sound of the Porsche’s at full throttle on the front straight was, as you can imagine, quite amazing.  I ended up with quite a few images of Natty Dread Jr. simply because the car is so photogenic.

NDF_4950-EditThis was our team lineup – we chose to be efficient and just write the order down on paper, instead of filling out every slice of pie in the circle.  We weren’t doing anything technical, just 30-45 minutes behind the wheel and come in.

NDF_4964-EditRacing for 12 straight hours is something quite unique to motorsport; or any endurance race for that matter.  It’s an event that basically envelopes your being for the entire day, and doesn’t particularly give you an opportunity to step out of that moment.  For that reason alone, I’m thankful for it, as it gives me a break from myself.  You’re in constant motion really (well if you’re covering it as well).  From driving, to assisting the team with pit stops and driver changes, refueling, photographing, keeping hydrated, checking the race standings, etc.

NDF_4967-EditThe purple 964 heading out after it’s first drivers change.

NDF_4973-EditAt the peak of the day, the heat was immense.  It was well close to, if not over, 100 degree Fahrenheit outside of the car.  With full race suit attire the temps inside the cars for sure reached closer to 115 or 120.  I remember the 2013 race not being nearly as hot.  People were recalling that last year a few people had past out after their first stints because they weren’t used to the humidity.  So, of course, staying hydrated was key to having a successful race.

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NDF_4974-EditA couple teams of S2000’s were on track, including this one here, that were doing a very good job maintaining consistency throughout the day.

NDF_4985-EditI had a couple run-ins with this Z33 on a couple of my drives.  It was much quicker on the straights, but I was always able to catch up to it through the S complex.

NDF_4986-EditLoved this EF! It was super loud too.

NDF_4970-EditMy time had finally come though, so I traded my camera gear for race gear and suited up.

NDF_5003-EditFor the first part of the race we were battling for first place (amongst the RWB cars) with the team driving Veronika (the very pink car).  From about the halfway point though, we fell a few laps short and stayed there for the remainder of the race.  A few of their drivers were running longer stints, which essentially cut down on the amount of pits they needed increasing their time on track.  I suppose we could have done the same, but we wanted to give everyone on the team a fair amount of driving time.  There’s somewhat of a non-competitive stigma attached to Idlers because it brings participants of all skill levels together, but I still enjoy driving my hardest given the conditions set out.

You can see in the below video I had gotten a little frustrated with traffic at one point, but it was just because I was desperately trying to make up a few laps on my last stint to close the gap with the team in first.

Actually, Speedhunters posted a video in their coverage that shows one of my passes and a lap from the chase perspective – kind of neat.  The pass is at 2:15 on the back straight.  Seems like a lot of drivers were missing the braking point around this area:

NDF_5005-EditWhile our car was holding up very well, it didn’t take long for contenders to start dropping out.  The hours and hours of racing in the heat started taking a toll on some of the cars, and possibly the drivers.

NDF_5014-EditIt was fun walking around the track during the breaks to see the creative ways people were beating the heat haha

NDF_5011-EditSpeaking of heat – about mid race one of the RWB cars had an off that we think pushed the bumper back into the hot exhaust enough for it to catch fire.  Track workers responded quickly putting the fire out, but definitely at the cosmetic expense of the car.  It was towed off track where Nakai promptly brought it back to the garage to start some emergency repairs.

NDF_5020-EditHe borrowed a set of taillights from another Porsche that was there as a backup car, and quickly got to rewiring the wires that had gotten seared.  It wasn’t long before the car was back out on track.  Unfortunately though, right after it went out it came back in with a broken oil line.  Not one to quit though, Nakai quickly took a line from the same ‘parts car’ now and replaced it so the car could get back out on track.

 

NDF_5025-EditThe amount of activity that was going on certainly brought a lot of spectators to the garage.

 

NDF_5021-EditIt wasn’t long after the fire incident that another Porsche came in with some front end damage.  It was repaired as best as it could be, but apparently it wasn’t enough because part way through the back straight the hood came flying off completely.  It was brought back in and a hood from another 993 was retrofitted on.

NDF_5034-EditBy sunset the cars were looking pretty rough.  However, all 6 were still in it!  A testament to Nakai’s drive.

NDF_5038-EditFrom the side you can barely notice Adriana’s damage.

NDF_5036-EditThe purple 964 was holding up good too; aside from it getting rear ended on the first lap!

NDF_5044-EditA better look at Charlene’s new upgrades.  Unfortunately the last hour didn’t bode well for this car as it had some major damage to the passenger side rear – I’m still not sure what happened, but it was left on track until the race was over.

NDF_5040-EditNakai looking a bit tired, but resilient nonetheless. Confident of the cars performance that day.

NDF_5054-EditLittle by little, at the 8pm mark, the cars started hobbling into the pits one last time.

NDF_5065-EditMet with a crowd of supporters, the cars were given a congratulatory meeting at each of their garages.

NDF_5067-EditOur car pulled in for the last time, going without issue the entire race (aside from the speedometer and gas gauge not working).  Amazing seeing as how this is it’s 5th endurance race.  You could tell in the video the car was a little down on power compared to the other 993’s, as it would get pulled on in the straights.  We still managed to finish second amongst the team, just 4 spots down from Veronika.

NDF_5071-EditBattle scarred, but not broken.

NDF_5074-EditTired faces congratulate everyone for good drives and a strong finish!

NDF_5076-EditWe could really get a good look at the fire damage as well.  Crazy!

NDF_5078-EditThe team prepped the cars for the drive back to Chiba, and we restlessly waited around until everything was packed up and ready to go.

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Thanks to Dino at Speedhunters for the group shot.  Looking forward to racing with everyone again next year!