LIVE FROM JAPAN 3: Circuit Trips in Japan (and Type R Brakes)
Posted: 06/22/2012 10:20AM
After finally getting behind the wheel of a car worthy (read more about that HERE) of taking to Japan’s large number of racing circuits I was on the prowl for a place to take the DC5 to really open it up.
In Japan there are basically three ways to get onto a track:
- Enter a race series
- Join a track day event with various organizations (Honda, Mugen, various Tuning Shops, Clubs etc.)
- Get a track license for open track sessions (they call this ‘Sports Driving’ in Japan)
I decided to go for the track license as it offered the most flexibility. After looking around at the options I landed on Sodegaura Forest Raceway which has been getting a lot of international press attention lately thanks to lots of press events for the new BRZ/FT86 being held there (see here and here).
SFR is very similar to Tsukuba with about the same overall length and a similar length straight. It is a very technical corse with many off-camber turns and a lot more elevation changes that Tsukuba.
The process of getting a track license was fairly simple, have your car exhaust measured for sound (must be under 95 dB – say wha??), pay the money (15,000JPY entrance fee + 10,000 yearly fee ~$280US), take a simple training course (about 30 minutes), and wait an hour for them to stick a photo on the paper and laminate a license for you:
After securing the relevant papers it was time to get out on the track. The line up was somewhat intimidating.
I managed to beat the goal time of the day just ever so slightly
After some time with the DC5 on the track it was clear that the Type R is built for exactly this kind of driving. I have never driven an front wheel drive with as much balance and control. Lift off in the middle of a corner and the rear will slide over with perfect balance, something that made it feel like you are driving a rear wheel drive.
The only issue was brakes… Even with those big brembo’s in the front, there was a lot of fade with the stock pads and it was clear that brake balance was being hindered by 10 year old brake lines. So that was that – the first upgrade to the DC5 would be brakes…
As your resident guy on the ground in Japan I hope I can bring you some insight into the Honda scene, tuning and life in Japan. If there is something you really want to see in these posts let me know via the comments.