The idea of a hire car was to make the trip from Himeji to Okayama for D1GP easy and avoid the hassles of public transport and taxis. We left early to see practice and qualifying before the battles started, it’s worth missing an hour sleep to see the drivers testing the limits and also get a small peak at the smaller name teams battling to get a spot in the best 16.
The drive up went very smooth with no wrong turns or unexpected detours, we initially targeted the GPS to the circuit but a bit of button pushing wiped our destination and somehow blocked the menu to reset it, resorting to the backup Google maps printouts. At the track there was a team of officials directing traffic and dealing with over excited foreigners. There is a few parking areas at the track and we had no idea which lead to the best vantage point so the first was our initial idea, we jumped out and snapped away at the cars in the parking area.
First up was an insanely clean S14 neatly arranged next to a matching R32, both were spotless in bright white. The Silvia won best in the lot sitting low down with nice areo and surprisingly good choice of wheels.
Another quick shot of a Celsior tucking big rims.
We decided to keep moving to the top parking area. Driving through large areas of enthusiasts cars we were constantly spotting interesting rides but I’ll come back to that shortly. We moved quickly as we could hear practice was under way.
Okayama circuit is quite a large facility. The track sits recessed into a small valley leaving the tarmac out of view from anywhere other than right near the action, once in sight we were greeted with big entries, crowds and a huge TV.
We initially grabbed any spot to see some runs, most drivers were pushing to the point of having way to much speed and running into the sand trap. Shortly after the show was under way, If you haven’t seen D1GP in the flesh you’d be surprised amount of organisation. A crew of officials directed each driver as the announcers introduced everyone in order of the current series points. Have a look at Tokita’s wheels, the same as the S14 in the car park. I have a feeling this might me the next trend from Japan that will inspire owners of newer model cars.
A short? Ten minute drivers briefing lead up to the start of qualifying. There are more teams at a D1 event then spaces in the top 16, qualifying was extremely competitive. With such a quality field scores below 90 were risking not making the cut. Video will be the only way to portray the intensity at a high speed track.
Prior to battles there was a mid morning pit walk, we figured that queuing up early would give us the most time possible to walk through. The Japanese organisational traits were back in swing with a “pit walk” sign showing spectators where the queue was.
As we arrived.
Three battles of cars were on track for the first round, surprisingly there was a pretty relaxed feeling with crew members joking around with water spray bottles.
Most drivers had a spectator friendly setup, handing out fans with car and driver pictures. Some had printed photos to hand out, each generating quite long queues. I spent my time juggling between photos with drivers and picking out interesting ideas in the cars which I could adapt into my own car.
The level of workmanship in every car was intense, relocating radiator and intercooler setups was the norm but Team Orange took it one step further.
Have a look at the carbon roof scoops that feed fresh air from the roof of the car into boot via the passenger area.
Have a close look in the interior, the radiator lines travel under the passenger and back into the engine bay.
As I reached the last car, Hideo Itakura’s RA28 the security was closing the pit lane by walking with a line of yellow tape.
Next post will be the on track action and the most impressive S13 of the event.