All-Japan GT Pro trackside commentary

Discussion in 'GT3 Race Reports' started by Duke, Mar 14, 2003.

  1. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Tonight I started this series, originally using a stock Denso Supra (making an effort to use a lot of cars I've never driven before) on T3 tires. I'm mad that GT3 doesn't show the AI horsepower numbers, because all the JGTC cars had a big acceleration advantage over me, including the other Denso Supra. I know from their pit schedule that they must be running T2s, so it is not just a traction advantage. I was preparing to buy some turbo pieces for the Supra when I decided to give them a taste of American beef instead.

    So I went back to the garage and hopped into the Team Oreca Viper (also a new experience for me), bought it some marvel mystery oil, T2s, and T3s, then headed for Grand Valley. Other than that it is stock at 618 hp. I'll be posting these in series as I wrap them up.

    Grand Valley Raceway - 15 laps

    All settings at default, except brake balance at 13/13, ASM at 0, and TCS at 1.

    I started from 6th with no qualifying and no idea how the car would compare to the field. On paper it has more power than the stock JGTCs, but we all know that the game gives the Japanese cars more than the specs say they have. So I was not surprised to see that even with a good launch and TCS at 1, the big Viper doesn't really have an acceleration advantage at all. It is almost even with the pack cars, though the Arta NSX and the Denso Supra can walk away from it, and the GTS-Rs have a big top-speed advantage. I should note that the stock gearing appears to be a bit tall, since I never reached 6th gear.

    However, one thing the race Viper does have is excellent brakes. I am able to brake deeper and more stably than most of the cars. It also offers very balanced, grippy cornering that is relatively easy to modulate with light throttle adjustments, and sharp rotation that can be called up with a stab of the throttle. These two strengths let me keep inside the pack on the first turn, exiting in 3rd place behind the Arta and Denso cars. Over the next 4 or 5 laps I mixed it up with the Raybrig NSX, who could corner almost as well as I but was slightly faster on the straights. The Pennzoil and Loctite GTS-Rs kept life interesting, with lousy cornering but tons of speed on the straights, which made my duel with the Raybrig rather like a fencing match where bystanders would randomly whack me with a long pole. What people see in those things I will never understand. At one point I got shoved hard into the barrier at the entrance to the first tunnel, falling to 5th place before I could back the car off and get going. I managed to stay in 3rd most of the time, but my tires were getting a bit well done, and I had fallen 6 or 7 seconds behind the lead. As traction started to fade, I pitted just past the halfway mark at the end of lap 8, with the tires an even reddish orange.

    No one else had pitted yet, so I left the Pits in last place, about 28 seconds down. I set about warming the tires up and reeling the field in. I had worked my way to within a 3-4 seconds of the back markers when the whole field except the 5th place Loctite GTS-R pitted at the end of lap 11, putting him in 1st place and me in 2nd. The rest of the field came out of the pits about 3-4 seconds behind me, trailing the Arta NSX. I was able to widen that lead to about 5.xxx seconds before their tires warmed up. I passed the Loctite Skyline for the lead early in lap 13, after which he pitted, falling into last place. As the Arta's new tires came online he began to close in, but never really challenged me during the last few laps.

    Margin: +2.740" Arta NSX
    Total time: 28':13.037"
    Fast lap: 1':48.636"
    Average: 1':52.869" with pit on lap 8
     
  2. SandStorm

    SandStorm (Banned)

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    Excellent race, duke. :tup:

    How many laps are there in each race? I want to do the Championship but I'm a bit apprehensive about how long it will take.
     
  3. Cobraboy

    Cobraboy (Banned)

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  4. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer

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    @ Duke:

    :D GREAT Write-Up, keep 'em comin'...UB57:D
     
  5. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    I also ran the second race last night, though I didn't have the energy to do both writeups aferward. I saved between events as always, and made a few settings changes based on my experience with the stock settings.

    I was pretty happy overall with the Viper LM's behaviour. It was consistently tailhappy under both braking and acceleration, so I stiffened the [oops] front rebound a touch and softened the rear bound slightly.[/oops] [edit]I actually stiffened the front bound to slow the forward weight transfer under braking, and I softened the rear rebound to let the weight stay to the back longer under acceleration. [/edit] I also lowered the car to about 70mm front / 75-80mm rear and backed off the rear swaybar to 3. I also dialed up -0.5 degrees toe in at the rear to stabilize the back end. I didn't want to add negative camber at the back because of the massive width of the Viper's tires; I thought it would hurt traction too much. I did add negative camber (to about -3 degrees) in the front to make sure the front would really grip at turn in. One thing I forgot to do was shorten the final drive so the car is still geared too tall and I have yet to touch 6th gear.

    Apricot Hill Speedway - 20 laps

    When I saw the lap count, I almost headed back to the pits to switch to T2 tires. However, I figured that 8 laps at GV meant the T3s would likely last 10 laps at AH, which turned out to be the case.

    Again I started from 6th place without qualifying. The field outdragged me off the line again, but I was able to duck inside the back marker GT-Rs at Turn One, and late-brake my way around the Raybrig NSX on Turn 2. I was door-handle-to-fender with him through the first valley and into the big left sweeper. This time the Denso Supra seemed to be the car with the hookup, as he was 2-3 seconds in front of me already and pulling all the time. The Loctite GT-R was also doing well but not as well; again, the Raybrig was my most even match. I really don't know where the Arta NSX was in all the melee, but I do know he was never a contender.

    I really like Apricot Hill, in both directions. I like it so much that I don't even cut the dirt chicane like the AI does, even though it costs me time. As the tires warmed up, the Supra opened the lead a little, with me trailing the Loctite car and the NSXs trailing me. The Pennzoil GT-R is perennially in the doghouse and this race was no exception. He even broke form by pitting before I did. As I anticipated, the T3s went 10 laps before starting to get greasy. There was no point in pushing them further than halfway, so I pitted after lap 10, abandoning 2nd place and emerging in 5th (like I said, the Pennzoil car was really in the basement). I worked my way back through the field, passing the Arta on that lap and the Raybrig at the hairpin the next time around, after pressuring him all through the preceeding sweeper. I saw later in the replay that he in fact spun after I passed him on the inside, even though it was clean with no contact. I passed the Denso Supra coming onto the front straight at the end of lap 12, a few seconds behind the Loctite Skyline. The Supra and the 2 NSXs pitted after lap 13. The Pennzoil car had already pitted, and the Loctite Skyline held out for another lap. I was closing in and would have passed him on the first turn of lap 15, except he pitted at the end of 14, handing me a 4-5 second the lead over the Supra. This time the Denso pilot had a few more laps with optimum tires, and I was getting a bit tired and sloppy - I have a little trouble with the turn-in for Turn One, which is concealed in shadow. I had an off-course excursion there in one of the late-game laps, but managed to avoid spinning in the kitty litter. This cost me some of my cushion, but I held out to finish almost exactly 1 second in front of him on reddish-orange tires. Throughout this race, the right side tires wore more heavily than the left, but all appeared to even out by the time they were due for replacement.

    Margin: +1.005" Denso Supra
    Total time: 26':58.065"
    Fast lap: 1':17.413"
    Average: 1':20.905" with pit on lap 10

    The change in second-place finisher is good, since it prevents the Arta from accruing too many points behind me. Unfortunately, since I only get to play about 4 hours a week (and rarely in one sitting), it looks like I'm facing 2 weeks in this series! I'm also worried because I forgot to stow NA 1 tuning in the transporter for use later in the series, which means I don't really have any defense if the AI gets a big boost. I do have T2 tires in reserve, but with the T3s lasting on a 1-pit strategy, they probably won't help.
     
  6. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    I don't normally do writeups for the two oval tracks, but believe it or not I enjoyed the Test Curse run tonight. Though I was happy it wasn't 20 times around...

    Test Course - 15 laps

    I didn't qualify, but I did run about 3/4 of a lap to test the gearing. No wonder I thought the stock gearing was too tall - I didn't even have to adjust the auto setting. In fact, I probably could have shortened it a notch, because the car topped out at about 202 in 6th at about 6250 - leaving me at least a thousand revs on the table. With a little shorter gearing I would have had the power to add at least a couple sustainable mph to that.

    Other that that, I dropped the car to the bump stops, minimized the downforce, reset the rear toe to zero, and switched to T2s.

    From the flag drop the field moved away from me during the first 1000m, but I caught and passed the two NSXs immediately after that, followed by the Loctite GT-R in the first turn. So I've finally figured out what the Pennzoil GT-R is good for - it pulled like a locomotive, paired with the Denso Supra. The field quickly separated into two groups of three - the Supra, the Pennzoil Skyline and I in the front, and the two NSXs and the Loctite car at the rear. It stayed that way the whole race.

    My group was extremely even in speed. No one seemed able to defend their lead for longer than 10 or 15 seconds before getting passed by the drafting cars coming up behind. The Vipe would touch 204 in uncut air, sustain 202 on the straights, and fall to 194 or so in the turns. For a while I bump-drafted the Supra and we managed to make about 218 on the back straight. Knowing that I couldn't pass them with authority, I spent most of my laps fine-tuning my following distances and noting where to start my run-up for the final move.

    I was unable to use my usual trick of staying way inside, since both the Supra and the GT-R were close enough that they would come down with me. So I spent 14 laps leapfrogging with them, and at the start of the last turn I made sure to be about 100 feet behind the pair. I held that position at part throttle until 2/3 of the way around the final turn, then I made my move. Running tight up behind the GT-R, I watched as he went left to try a pass, allowing me to gain more speed in the Supra's draft. I again ran up close behind, then drifted high to squeeze between him and the rail. As soon as I was clear I immediately moved down across the banking to pick up a little extra speed and reduce the chance of them drafting me. I timed it well enough to cross the line a few carlengths ahead of both, with the Supra dropping from 1st to 3rd in the last 10 seconds of the race. Oddly enough, 55 seconds later, the second group had a similar decimal-second finish for 4, 5, and 6th place. Yet again I'm lucky in the points standing, with 3 different second-place cars in 3 races.

    Nobody pitted. My oil light came on on lap 13, which is bumming me out, since I don't have any reserve upgrades to compensate.

    Margin: +0.164" Pennzoil GT-R
    Margin: +0.253" Denso Supra
    Total time: 29':22.229"
    Fast lap: 1':55.691"
    Average: 1':57.481"
     
  7. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer

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  8. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Thanks for the support, UB. Now I need some advice from you guys...

    I ran the 5th and 6th races this morning, and as I suspected, being down 30hp is an issue. I silvered at SS R11, and only managed bronze at Laguna.

    Do I run the remaining 4 races underpowered, or do I restart the series with some reserve tuneups waiting? I forgot to do that this time...
     
  9. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer

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    HI Duke;
    :D Personally, I'd run'em. A little extra practice doesn't hurt any of US & you'd probably find out for sure if THEY actually gain HP in the late races, or WE just lose some. Looking forward to the next report...UB57
    :D
     
  10. Gil

    Gil Premium

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    With Laguna,. did you remember to shorten your gear ratios? Seca has no big straights and you only really need to be albe to get to about 170 on the front straight to smoke the competition.
    You can still win this on Pit strategy, and tranny tweeks.
    Good luck.
     
  11. SandStorm

    SandStorm (Banned)

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    I started the Formula GT this morning, and what Duke said about less power caught my atention.

    I've been using an untuned (bloody tuning! :banghead: ) Polyphony001 (F094/S for NTSC users, I believe) and have been pulling in rather nice times, ie 26secs at SS, but I got to the Test Course and in qualifying, found out rigth away that my bad oil caused a humumgo loss of power. So I dropped the downforce as low as it would go, used manual and left it on 5th gear (6th drops speed) for the entire qualifying, and found myself in 1st by over a second. So there ya go, the simplest things can make all the difference.
     
  12. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Tokyo SS R11 - 15 laps

    I hate this course. Imagine everything Der Alta has ever said about Seattle, and double it. Lousy lighting, no traction, no rhythm or flow, all blind apexes... I could go on forever.

    With the Vipe down 30 hp to 588, I figured I was in trouble. Nonetheless I didn't qualify, since I was in a hurry, and with the big acceleration advantage the still-fresh AI cars have, I doubted it would make a difference. I ran T2s, hoping I wouldn't slide enough to cook them before 15 laps were up.

    At the flag, the field ran away, with me dogging them to the best of my ability. The Loctite GT-R had the mojo this race, and ran away from the rest of the field as well. I concentrated hard and kept at it, finding myself in 5th place on lap 13, when everybody except the two GT-Rs pitted, moving me to 3rd. I passed the Pennzoil car for 2nd on the next lap, after which he pitted. I hung on for the last lap and crossed the finish line about 30.xxx" behind the Loctite GT-R (who never pitted), but about 13.xxx" ahead of the 3rd place Arta NSX. This left me with 36 points to the Denso Supra's 17.

    Margin: -30.338" behind the Loctite GT-R
    Total Time: 29':58.452"
    Fast Lap: 1':56.548"
    Average Lap: 1':59.896" (no pit)

    Laguna Seca Raceway - 20 laps

    I probably should have qualified here, but I like Laguna, and can drive it well enough. Knowing I would have to pit anyway, I switched up to the T3s.

    Except for the Arta NSX, this course is a nightmare for the AI. I worked my way through the Turn 1 crowd, moving up to 2nd behind the two NSXs amid clouds of tire smoke and cars all over the track, but fell back to 4th after the Supra and the Raybrig straightened out and put the power to use. I battled the Raybrig NSX for several laps and got around him early on when he nearly spun at the Corkscrew, then set to work on the Supra, who I found sideways at the top of the front straight around lap 6 or 7. The Arta was way out front and nowhere to be seen.

    I pitted on lap 10 (no reason to go farther) and fell back to 3rd or 4th place, coming out of the pits a whopping 50 seconds behind the Arta. I ran hard, catching the Supra out of shape again and leaving him. The entire field pitted on laps 16 or 17, allowing me catch up to within 20 seconds or so of the Arta, and get in front of the Raybrig car. I was winding down on the last lap, expecting another 2nd place finish, when the Raybrig rammed me in the turn following the Corkscrew, nearly spinning me, and putting me back to 3rd.

    Margin: -30.338" behind the Arta NSX
    Margin: -1.528" behind the Raybrig NSX
    Margin: +1 lap (Supra), +2 laps (GT-Rs)
    Total Time: 27':54.906"
    Fast Lap: 1':20.179"
    Average Lap: 1':23.745" (with pit)
     
  13. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer

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    POINTS ?? POINTS ??
    :D How'ya doin' on points after Laguna Seca???...UB57:D
     
  14. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    I still had a strong points lead (40 for me, to the Arta's 24) after Laguna, thanks to the fact that there has been no truly dominant AI car to date. This would change shortly.

    Trial Mountain - 15 laps

    After the performance at Laguna, I figured I could finish 2nd from here on out by keeping the same pit strategy and watching my mirrors. The Viper had no serious vices, and I had enjoyed the uncertainty factor so far, so I had not been qualifying and I had been making suspension adjustments on the fly. Next up was Trial Mountain; not my favorite track but one I know reasonably well. I decided to start from 6th with T3 tires on the car. Both where strategic mistakes for which I would pay dearly.

    I was used to being left at the start, then threading my way through the pack in the twisties, then falling back again on the straights - but moving up with each cycle. What I forgot was the long run up the Gorge after the first tunnel - a gauntlet of wall-banging, ricocheting JGTC cars I was going to have to run every lap, and without the power to blast through it. Besides that, they had the long back straight with its big hill playing to their horsepower advantage. Consequently, I never managed better than about 3rd before getting pummeled to the back again. Had I qualified and made maximum advantage of the first lap, I might have managed to stay ahead of them.

    And there I ran afoul of my second mistake. I intended to pit after the halfway point at lap 8, but I realized I had never ever pitted on this track before, and I had no idea where the pit entrance was. So it took me until lap 11 to find it and get the Viper into it, by which time my T3 tires were pretty overcooked. I came out in last place, about 50 seconds down, and went to work. I passed the Pennzoil GT-R when he pitted on 13, and I waited to see the rest of the field pit... in vain. Everybody else ran to the finish nonstop, leaving me a distant 5th place.

    Margin: -53.507", 5th behind the Denso Supra
    Total Time: 21':51.645"
    Fast Lap: 1':22.165"
    Average Lap: 1':27.443" (one piton lap 11)

    Points standing: Viper GTS-R, 42 points; Denso Supra and Arta NSX, 30 points

    This really hurt my points standing. I still had the lead , but the Arta NSX and the Denso Supra had split the last two races, meaning I had two second place challengers to defend against. My margin wouldn't survive 4 more races like this, let alone allow me the luxury of skipping the last race to do the save-and-reload trick. This is the point where I asked for advice yesterday, and I'm glad you guys encouraged me to continue...
     
  15. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Next up was Round 7, at Rome II. I rather like the Rome course despite the never-ending guard rails. I knew this was going to be the make-or-break round in the series, and I knew I didn't have any tricks up my sleeve. With the field not pitting, I couldn't even gain an advantage by running harder tires; T2s would just break even for me.

    So I spent one race session tweaking the car and qualifying. I adjusted the downforce up, lowered the car near the bottom, and stiffened the springs to compensate. I also shortened the final drive a bit. On T2s, I tinkered the car down to a flat 2" off the Supra's pace, good enough for 5th position on the grid. By then I was out of time so I saved the settings and quit. During the day I had a discussion with Der Alta about the series, and he suggested something I hadn't considered before: qualify with sticky tires to get the pole, then switch to T2s for the actual race.
    :dunce:
    Honestly, I never thought of this before. What a dope. The other thing I realized was that following the Test Course race, I had accidently set the Viper up with 0.5 toe out in back instead of the toe in I had been running before to stabilize the rear. In retrospect, this probably cost me several positions at Trial Mountain. Using the stock T5s, I was able to put the big Viper on the pole within a lap or two, though I forget by how much. Before the start, I went back to the garage and switched down to T2s. I also made an adjustment to the trans, making the final drive substantially shorter, but widening the autosetting to 32 from 31.

    I held the lead from launch to the first turn, when I got nudged back to 3rd or so by the dogpile. Except for the surprise at R11, the GT-Rs have never been contenders, mostly serving just to make life difficult. They didn't even do that past the end of the back straight on the first lap. Still I have no idea why the racing Skylines fascinate some people so. I duelled with the NSXs for a lap or two, but my main opponent was the Denso Supra, who had a massive top speed advantage over me, which made for a lot of double passes through the back side of the course. One thing he did teach me was how to take the last turn flat out without lifting, which had been costing me some speed on the front straight. Once I had that down, the Viper's gearing turned out to be just perfect.

    We had about 8 laps of great racing, then I passed the Supra for good on lap 10, with no idea how far behind anybody else was. I widened my lead out to 5 seconds or so by lap 12-13, but through a little overdriving I let him catch up to within about 1.5". A few deep breaths and some finger wiggling on the back straight got me under control again, and I crossed the finish line on light orange tires but with a comfortable margin.

    Margin: +6.267" Denso Supra
    Total Time: 20':39.109"
    Fast Lap: 1':19.710"
    Average Lap: 1':22.607" (no pit)

    Points standing: Viper GTS-R, 52 points; Denso Supra, 36 points
     
  16. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Following my confidence-boosting victory in Rome, I was looking forward to a similar victory at Grand Valley II. I stiffened the dampers a touch all round, but didn't mess up the proportioning. I qualified on T5s again, getting the pole by a large margin this time - 8 or 9 seconds (which is rather surprising in retrospect). I would never run a race with this big a qualification difference, but I knew I was switching back to T2s for the actual race. At the time, I assumed that the field was running T2s and wouldn't pit, so I planned to follow the same strategy.

    Grand Valley Raceway II - 15 laps

    At the green flag, I launched as hard as I could, hoping to clear the Turn 3-4 combination before the inevitable dogpile arrived. I was unable to outrun the 2 NSXs, though, and I got nailed into the wall at the first half of the chicane. I managed to avoid getting countersunk by the Supra and the 2 Sledgeham... I mean, Skylines, and dug out of Turn 4 in 3rd place, tight behind the Arta and Raybrig cars.

    I battled the 2 NSXs for about 3 laps, reeling them in on the turns and letting the line out when they charged away on the straights. I passed for good at the Small Hairpin on lap 4, and steadily widened my lead. For whatever reason, I was never challenged again, though I could watch my lead time shrink by a second or 2 as the NSX of the moment ran the front straight behind me.

    From that point on I drove very conservatively, wanting to make sure my tires would last 15 l-o-n-g GV laps. I braked early and stayed a gear high all the time, never dropping below 3rd gear. Even so, my lead grew lap by lap, and the caution was unnecessary since they all pitted unexpectedly after lap 12, except the Supra who pitted after lap 13. I could have pitted with ease, but it was unnecessary. I encountered lap traffic at the beginning of lap 14, and spent some time getting around both GT-Rs and the Supra. I was more concerned about finishing the race easily than I was about keeping them behind me, but I got around them for good at the 3-4 turn of lap 15, putting the 3 back markers 1 lap down at the finish. I cruised across the line with all four tires a pale orange yellow.

    Margin: +47.814" Arta NSX
    Margin: +1 lap, Denso Supra, Loctite GT-R, Pennzoil GT-R
    Total Time: 28':03.259"
    Fast Lap: 1':48.658"
    Average Lap: 1':52.217" (no pit)

    Note that my fast lap time was nearly identical to the first race at GV (run on T3 tires), but my total ET was 10 seconds faster this time because I didn't pit. Whenever possible, avoid the pits, kids!

    Points standing: Viper GTS-R, 62 points; Arta NSX, 39 points

    I now have a big enough lead that I could skip the next race and quit out of the last race with the series win and my choice of prize car. However, there's no point in doing so because I feel confident that the Viper is well-sorted for the next race at Tokyo R246.
     
  17. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer

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    Great Write-up Duke:
    :D Looking forward to the final installment!!! It may just be my imagination but it always seems to me that the Japanese cars run just a little harder @ Tokyo Rte 246. Since that's all you're facing, keep your guard up!!! Be especially careful @ the second turn on your first lap, that's where they always like to smack me into the wall...UB57
    :D
     
  18. Der Alta

    Der Alta Staff Emeritus

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    Now that's a catch line for a write-up..."Snatching Victory from the jaws of defeat!"

    From 5th place at Trial Mtn to a 47" win at GV2. Now that's a good run.

    I'm looking forward to the last two races.

    and...you're welcome.

    AO
     
  19. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    I don't think I could have done it without you, at least not at Rome. If I can win the races, I usually start without qualifying to make it more interesting. But since the field can catch me even from the pole, it's better this way since I am fighting against the cars that can drive instead of trying to get past a pair of dolts that are just using up all the track because their cars don't handle.

    By the way, at the end of the Rome race, the Viper was down to 576 hp, 42 hp off the original stock-plus-oil-change number. I obviously haven't had a chance to check it after 30-40 miles at GV. Hopefully it won't get much worse.
     
  20. RVDNuT374

    RVDNuT374

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    neon duke:

    There is no such track as Tokyo SSR11.:p You probably mean SSR11. *there's only a Tokyo in Tokyo R246;) *
     
  21. Race Idiot

    Race Idiot (Banned)

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    Stop nitpicking and let the guy do his writeups.

    Nice write-up duke, this will surely help me when I come to this cup looking for a challenge.
     
  22. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    I thought all the SS R# tracks were in Tokyo? R5, R11, and R246... no wonder I used to get peeved when people would just say "Tokyo" instead of which route number.
     
  23. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Tokyo R246 - 15 laps

    As predicted by UB57, the JGTC boys definitely had the home-court advantage on the next stage, Tokyo R246. I appreciate the nationalist pride of PD's programming staff, but I hope they manage to restrain themselves just a little in GT4. The go-Japan bias is really ridiculous considering the number of copies sold to the rest of the world... or maybe that's their point. After a victory margin of more than 45 seconds (and lapping the bottom half of the field) at Grand Valley II, I was unable to put the Viper higher than 4th place on the grid in Tokyo, even using T5s to qualify. The course layout isn't all that different between the two, and though I'm not the best driver I have a decent line for this track. That is ham-handed programming, if not downright arrogance on their part.

    Having tweaked the Viper's final drive slightly shorter still, I moved from 4th to 3rd when the green flag fell; then after passing the Arta under braking, I briefly held 2nd going through Turn 1. During the ensuing jostle the Raybrig NSX slipped by and followed the Supra away from the pack. I steadily lost ground to those two, battling with the Arta and the 2 Skylines (who were behaving true to form: point-shoot-bang-repeat). After maintaining my track manners this far, I finally gave in and used my elbows where necessary, but the front straight and the power disadvantage made it tough to maintain my track position. The Viper had hit bottom at 576 horsepower, allowing the other cars to breeze past me at will on the long straight. I was usually in 3rd coming through the back side of the course, and 5th by the first turn of the next lap.

    Running T2s, I didn't pit, but by the time most of the field pulled in for fresh tires on lap 13 I was 20+ seconds out of first. The perennial non-contender Pennzoil GT-R had pitted on 12, cementing his hold on last place. The Loctite Skyline did not pit with the rest of the field, and though the two front runners got out of the pits still ahead of me, I got around the Arta for good while he was in the pits, and I picked off the Loctite car for 3rd during lap 14 as his tires went away (he pitted at the end of that lap). I was able to narrow the Supra's lead a bit due to his cold tires, but there was no chance to improve my finish in the remaining lap.

    Margin: -10.107" 3rd behind the Denso Supra
    Total time: 24':21.616"
    Fast lap: 1':35.026"
    Average: 1':37.440" with no pit
    Final Point Standing: 66 pointsViper GTS-R, 48 points Denso Supra

    With the series championship mine, I used the save-and-reload trick to select my prize car. The computer has a sense of humor apparently (or at least a sense of irony) since its first offer was the Pennzoil Skyline. HAH! As if. Then it tried hard to give me the Zonda racecar (which I should be winning soon enough elsewhere) and the Castrol NSX (already have the Raybrig, and green is bad luck in American racing circles) before yielding up the Autobacs MR-S. Coincidentally, the little MR-S racecar looks to be the ideal weapon for the Monaco enduro, with its small dimensions and mid-engine chassis.

    Monaco Cote d'Azur - 20 laps

    From my dozen or so restarts (and my superstition that you need to vary your elapsed time to shuffle the prize selection), I knew the Viper would have a good chance at this course even with tired oil. I didn't see any reason to torture it any more, though, and lavished the 250 credits on some nice fresh green stuff. Horespower came back up to 605 - 13 hp sacrificed to the demons of poor game planning.

    For a 20-lap race on a very tight course, I didn't think that T2s/no pit was an option, so I switched up to T3s while it was in the garage. I also shortened the final drive to 4.26 since this course is all about acceleration, and upped the TCS to 2, which may or may not have been necessary.

    Refreshed and refurbished, we headed to the last position on the grid. At the green flag, the field charged the short distance to the first turn and with great restraint I maneuvered through into 3rd place rather than bowling everyone out mf my way. Following the Castrol Supra and the Raybrig NSX up the hill, I was amazed at how much swerving back and forth they did through what are really very mild turns. I took my usual nearly-straight line to the top, braked early, and watched the Supra as it got squirrely under heavy braking as always. I eased around both cars during the left sweeper at the crown of the hill and accelerated hard on the downhill chute leading to the first hairpin. With a good run through that turn, I secured my lead pretty much for good on the first lap.

    I did my best to drive academically and really practice on this track. The Viper handled it wonderfully unless I braked too late, and it was quite tolerant even then. I had no real wall slams, just a few brushes at the rear when it stepped out a little from a slightly heavy foot. I took the tight hairpins at easy throttle in 2nd and most of the dockside area in 3rd, touching 5th on the two straights, but never 6th. I never disliked this course, but I'm really starting to enjoy it more and more.

    All told, I had opened up a 16.xxx? margin by the halfway point in the race, when I pitted on lightly orange tires. The Raybrig, which had been in 2nd place since the first lap, was a few carlengths in front of me when I came out of the pits, but I passed him again at the top-of-the-hill sweeper (I forget what this area of the track is called). I continued my workbook exercises and had regained most of my margin when the field pitted in its usual sequence about ¾ of the way through the race - Pennzoil GT-R on lap 16, almost everybody else on lap 17, and the Loctite GT-R on 18. I noticed several lead changes after the pit stop, but the Raybrig had reclaimed 2nd by the finish at lap 20. I cruised across the line, having put about 550 miles on the Viper all told.

    Margin: +44.450" Raybrig NSX
    Margin: +1':44.xxx" Pennzoil GT-R, which somehow didn't work out to a lap down
    Total time: 33':00.162"
    Fast lap: 1':35.591"
    Average: 1':39.008" with pit on 10

    Post-series Commentary

    For a driver of only moderate skill, this series is very winnable in the stock Team Oreca Viper. However, I don't think it can be swept, due to the power deficiency brought on by the dirty oil. The horsepower tracks - Trial Mountain and R246 - are simply out of reach once the Viper loses some steam. There is no explaining what happened at Grand Valley, particularly not the second time around, though. I'm going back to R11, Laguna, TM, and R246 with fresh oil and I bet I can clean up some of the silver and bronze finishes.

    The Viper racecar has proven itself wonderful and free of character flaws, at least for my driving style. It brakes firmly, remains stable, and is forgiving of late braking, though it prefers you to brake early and take advantage of the cornering grip. Turn-in is crisp, and it doesn't understeer under so-called 'trailing throttle'. Predictable oversteer can be called up during high-speed sweepers with a quick lift, and sharp rotation is available during low-speed turns by a firm jab of the gas. This suits my driving style perfectly since I am better at making gentle corrections with the throttle than I am with the steering. All in all it behaves much like a mid-engine car, with near-perfect balance and excellent traction. It's nice to have a viable alternative to the Legion of Japanese Wondercars.
     
  24. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer

    Messages:
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    Great Series & Write-ups Duke ! ! !
    :D I have several Oreca Vipers but don't remember ever having driven them, think you've inspired me to give this one a try. They always seem to be a "Pest" when driven by the "AI" maybe I can show one some "manners."...UB57
    :D
     
  25. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Thanks, UB57! Hrm, the thread on the Settings and Tuning board made me realize I had forgotten to include that info here. This is where I wound up with the Viper Oreca:

    Springs: 17.2/14.8
    Height: 55/60
    Bound: 9/8
    Rebound: 10/9
    Camber: -3.0/-1.0
    Toe: 0.0/+0.5 (toe in)
    Stabilizers: 4/3

    Brakes: 12/12

    LSD/I: 15
    LSD/A: 25
    LSD/D: 20

    Final Drive: 4.13 - 4.26
    A/S: 32

    Downforce: 0.94/1.24
    ASM: 0
    TCS: 1
    Just in case anybody is interested in the settings. I will repeat - I really enjoy driving this car. I think I even like it better than my Raybrig NSX!
     
  26. thorgan

    thorgan

    Messages:
    11
    Nice write up,

    Read about you doing this on a different thread and decided to give it a go. Did an oil change and got T3's just (should have got T2's too). Bought an NA tune 1 but didn't install it. First few races were handy enough. Installed the NA tune 1 for the test track then took it off again.

    Came second at laguna seca and trial mountain. Thought I had it at trial mountain but the denso never pitted. Grr. Was about 9 seconds down on the raybrig at laguna - would have been closer 'cept I over did it when I saw him in my sights after he came out of the pits on 14.

    Put back on the NA for rome but still only managed third. Kept it again for Grand Valley reverse but it was totally unnecessary - 1.25 margin I think. So I took it off again for Tokyo and Monaco. Got hammered at Tokyo but hammered them at Monaco.

    Ended up with 77 points to the Denso's 59. Thanks for the idea for the race - forced some good driving!

    Tim.
     
  27. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    Great! I'm glad it was a fun series for you.
     
  28. Parnelli Bone

    Parnelli Bone Premium

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    Kay i realize i'm replying to this years after it was written, but just wanted to say i really enjoyed this write-up, Duke. Like you, i decided to do these in a Oreca Viper (blasphemy!) but the Viper really doesn't have much advantage over those JGTC's if you keep the power low.

    Your race descriptions sound almost exactly like my experience (i started heavy-duty tuning right off the bat but otherwise used the same tires as you pretty much). I also won all the races except the Test Course (Castrol had power advantage and my 6th gear were a bit too tall) and i lost at Rome II after taking an unnecessary pit. A rare 6th place for Parnelli. I think i got 2nd somewhere else...i'm forgetting where. Right now i'm doing Route 246 :D

    These are fun races (pro-level All Japan) :tup:
     
  29. Duke

    Duke Staff Emeritus

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    So, now that I'm replying to your post 6 weeks after it was written, how did your series come out? I'm glad you enjoyed my writeup.
     
  30. Parnelli Bone

    Parnelli Bone Premium

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    From what i remember it was awesome. MAn that was 6 weeks ago? feels like 9 or 10. My memory really sucks as i get older...anyways. Pro-level AJGT rules! :cheers: LIke you described, there were some unexpected surprises with the AI, which generally drove really well (except at GVII...what the hell happened there?)