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Since this is a blog about Skyline R33 GT-Rs, to be honest there really wasn't much if anything I saw yesterday at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2012 that has to do with the R33. Actually come to think of it, I only saw 1 R32 (Garage Yahata) and the only R34 I saw was a sedan (apparently I wasn't really paying attention...). No R33 sadly. It appears the major tuners are focused on the R35, with HKS and their 4.1L R35 for example. Bodykits from BenSopra with the engine hood opening up clamshell style from the front, wide body kits, etc. And obviously everyone was excited about the new FT-86.
For a good overview and pictures of cars, check out Dino's write up at Speedhunters:
Oh, I guess he had time to make (leave?) his mark while he was at it...
So why did I bother going, if this was the reality? Well, on one hand the gang from the UK/EU GTROC club is here visiting for a week, and as their official Japan representative, it wouldn't be the same if I wasn't there to help them enjoy their day.
But also, it was a chance to catch up with a few friends and finally put a face to other friends and names (I had never before met Luke Huxam of Maiham Media before...).
I also saw Drift King Tsuchiya-san at the Mugen stand giving a talk show, Hoshino-san of Impul signing autographs, and later, I had the distinct honor of being introduced to Hasegawa-san of HKS (He's the "H" and the CEO)!
I did find some Skyline related stuff at the little bookstore though. Check this out - a whole book dedicated to the R31!
And in the R32 dedicated book - can anyone guess who this guy with the mullet is (hint: Tomei)?
Ok, but seriously....
Yes, I just couldn't get THAT excited about the newer cars there and how they were tuned...so what I decided to focus on was to hunt for stuff I could apply to my car. Judging from these crowds, LED lighting for cars is the next big thing for DIY tuning.
I also saw some new wheels from Rays that would be compatible with my rotors, as well as samples from companies for aftermarket rotors....the more selection, the better!
But it was also a chance to make contact with Obayashi Factory who are considered the best aftermarket interior "tuners" in Japan. I spoke at length about having the interior of my car redone in leather, for example, as well as some other ideas I have... Regardless it looks like a trip there to get estimates will be necessary in the near future!
But I DO promise my car will not end up looking like this Hummer:
Those of you who have read this blog for awhile may remember this entry -
Sunako Jukucho (real name - Teruhiko Sunako) was, before his retirement in 2008, one of the top professional race drivers in Japan, well known in GT-R and Porsche circles. He also taught a select few students, running a high performance driving "juku" (prep school) hence his nickname "jukucho" (literally prep school master).
Here is his bio (in Japanese, sorry):
Anyway, I was pleased to find out that his retirement from the car world was short-lived. At a recent social gathering, I found out he was back in Tokyo and now in charge of introducing the Base Performance Simulator (one of only 5 in the world) to Japan. Essentially, it is a high performance racing simulator, kind of like the PlayStation Gran Turismo game series...but on steroids.
Developed by double LeMans winner Darren Turner, the BPS system is recognized as being literally one step below the full on million dollar simulators F1 Teams use to train their drivers. Read more about how fantastic this simulator is here.
Due to my status as a former juku-sei (prepschool student) of his, I was lucky to be invited to try this machine out before its unveiling to the paying public.
As I had been recently too busy to really think about my past driving both good and bad at Fuji, this was a perfect opportunity to remind myself of my weakpoints - ie sections of the track that I always seem to have trouble with - and work on improving my techniques not only by driving in the simulator, but getting advice directly from Sunako-san.
How fantastic is this? I can try different things before actually hitting the track and risking damage to my car (as well as any others that might happen to be there if I spin out)- Fuji is a high speed track after all, so a mistake can be expensive!
First time I hopped in, I was embarrassingly slow. Yes there was some initial disorientation - I mean the displayed images made me dizzy in the beginning, but then you get used to it. The wheel has force feedback, but this simulator doesn't move up, down or sideways like some others. But it was also the vehicle I was virtually driving, a GP2 formula car... The thing accelerates so quickly that if you're not careful, just like in real life, your car suffers oversteer and... yes, you spin. And braking - no power assist here! Just like a real formula car. And the force feedback is so strong sometimes I was glad I heeded Sunako-san's advice and brought my racing gloves. So getting used to the virtual car for me took some time.
But once I started getting used to the formula car steering wheel, and the DSG style shift paddles, and the acceleration and the braking - then it quickly became apparent that I had a whole list of weak points on how to drive the Fuji track itself - for example, how to take the Coca Cola corner properly without upsetting the balance of the car, the proper entry speed and clipping points for the 100R, braking and acceleration points for Netz Corner, and the proper line for Panasonic Corner - and those are just the obvious ones.
And the result - during the actual SSCT track day, I found myself flying through Coca Cola corner with no fear, my car behaved exactly as predicted and simulated. Other problem areas were not much of an issue too, although the number of cars on the track that day made taking the ideal lines more the exception than the rule...but anyway, the simulator did its job and got me prepared!
No photos from my first session, but after my actual track day at Fuji, I went again - this time with another juku-sei, Russ of RE-Xtreme. Here are some photos he took, plus some more on his blog entry: http://re-xtreme.blogspot.com/2011/12/ba
So check this out - First Corner approach (Russ driving):
Then coming out of first corner, accelerating and mentally getting ready for Coca Cola Corner (me):
Getting ready to brake before Coca Cola (Russ):
Another tough corner for me, Panasonic Corner (and what's distracting is, that LCD billboard on the upper right, ACTUALLY plays Panasonic TV commercials...!!!)
Then down the straight:
Then the Motec software, which keeps a running tab on what you're doing, displays it all for Sunako-san to breakdown and analyze. Brutally.
But you know, I'm really glad I had this opportunity. It's so much better to spin out and wreck virtually than in your own pride and joy...
Anyway, for those who might be interested in preparing for their own track days, the simulator has, on file, in addition to the major tracks in Japan, dozens of tracks from around the world, ranging from Laguna Seca to Nurburgring.
Actually, the true benefit of this simulator is - my car is already very well prepped - I am the weak point. So instead of going to the track, which costs time and money, plus puts wear and tear on the car, polish my driving skills on this simulator first! So next time, I will hopefully be able to extract the maximum potential of the car...
For more information or to arrange your own session, Sunako-san can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is a link to his blog, where, in addition to more pictures and information on the simulator, if you read long enough, you may stumble upon a picture of me...
He does understand some English, so don't be shy... And tell him I sent you!
Ok so I think we can all agree that changing out the stock steering wheel for the Ital Volanti one was a good move. Whether I can justify it on a street car - I now have no driver's side airbag - remains to be seen (although I have read somewhere the airbags, especially those made in the 80s and 90s, tend to only have a shelf life of around 10 years...)
Another mod that I did - well to be honest it is harder to critique. Either I'm not sensitive enough of a driver (see my next blog post...) or the improvement it made to my car's performance is too subtle to be noticed unless the car is driven on a circuit which results in the rear stepping out more, and causing the front wheels to have power going to them, thanks to the ATTESSA operating.
That's right, despite harsh critiques on the GTROC forum,
And the fact that apparently someone somewhere is actually developing a new programmable and faster ATTESSA ECU -
I chose to go ahead and buy this:
The digital G-sensor for the ATTESSA system from Do-Luck, that replaces the old analog (oil based) one. I mean, if I could get the Do-Luck product NOW but no one seems to know when this new ECU is going to come out - why not? And if it helped me on the track...
Click on this link to go to the Do-Luck website - they have some English describing the theory about how this device works.
Because I was curious about whether a digital g-sensor made such a difference versus an analog one, I actually picked up the phone and called Do-Luck directly. In summary, what I was told was, that in older cars with worn out sensors, this was the cheaper and more reliable replacement alternative, and for the newer R33 and R34 GT-Rs, there was still a difference to be felt.
Orito-san of Do-Luck explained that the units had been tested by several people, both on the street and on the track. Everyone said they could tell the difference, even on the street. Of course the biggest difference was felt in the R32s, as they are older and those initial G-sensors were more primitive.
When I asked about how much of a difference, Orito-san explained it to me this way - the G-sensor feeds a signal to the ECU, and then the ECU tells the ATTESSA pump what to do. So basically they can't do anything downstream of the ECU (that would have to be mechanical), but they are maximizing the speed between the G-sensor and the ECU.
Apparently, with the older analog sensors, people had to be careful not to apply the gas (when sliding) too early. Reports from the track are that, they can get on the gas much quicker now, response is much better in that way. I guess it's like our brain/feet directly activating the ATTESSA pump versus one second time lag that always seems to be there before the pumps activate.
He also mentioned that, compared to the stock system, people said the front torque meter didn't react as wildly - I think this suggests that because the power is getting to the front quicker, the car doesn't need to apply the full 50% to the front wheels?
And the actual result? Well I'm not sure exactly if my full on braking was improved on the Fuji straight before the first corner, but I DID feel the car behave differently than before on two occasions - one at Dunlop corner - (this is when you are forced to slow down to negotiate a low speed hairpin but then immediately get on the gas as you head up towards the main straight) and second when I momentarily lost control, the car reacted immediately to pull me out.
Install is easy:
Remove the center console, the gold box is the analog G-sensor.
On the R32, apparently you can simply strap the digital sensor on top, but that did not work for me, so I was forced to remove the old G-sensor:
And then just plug in (remove the plugs from the analog sensor), and while they provide some double stick tape, I choose to use a ziptie for good measure. Note that the sensor must be flat, and the arrow pointing towards the front of the car.
I do hope to have further opportunity to test the G-sensor... maybe I'll do some drag launches next time on the street and see how the car reacts?
Everyone check this out! You may have already seen this on my Facebook page but...
When I had my car dyno'd at Uchida Car Works... Dino Dalle Carbonare decided to try his hand at taking video with his Canon DSLR...his first time ever? Luckily Luke Huxham of Maiham Media agreed to do the post processing and editing, resulting in this beautiful short film:
Posted here with the explicit permission of Luke Huxham and Maihem Media.
Those of you who know Luke and/or have seen his work know that he is a world famous young up-and-coming professional videographer/cinematographer, and with this kind of quality, I am sure you would agree that, it's only a matter of time before he's widely acknowledged as one of the top in the industry.
Thanks again Luke!
After being publicly chastised on Facebook for having a stock steering wheel (admittedly it was worn out and it had always bothered me as to why it was so thin and cheap feeling... and also common to other Nissans at the time):
I went ahead and installed this: a rare Ital Volanti Imola R steering wheel that I found on Yahoo Auction for cheap, and had retrimmed by Robson Leather (link to my visit).
By getting Robson to do the retrim, I was able to specify their "European stitch" in the brightest color red string they had.
Finding the proper boss initially appeared to be another problem - most of them out there had cheap looking plastic accordion looking covers but I found this one by Daikei which has a nice "crinkle finish" cover.
FYI, here are some photos to show how the steering wheel swap is done:
Step 1: On the bottom of the wheel and sides of the stock steering wheel, there are plastic covers. Remove with a flathead screwdriver. Turn the wheel to one side to access the bottom, and disconnect the airbag and horn leads.
Step 2: On the left and right sides, you will see two screws (hexhead) on each side, remove those and the middle airbag section comes off (don't forget to unplug the battery first for at least one hour before starting...).
Backside of airbag module looks like this:
Step 3: You now have this - the center bolt is what you need to remove, I THINK it was a 19mm socket I used. BUT, important tip here - use force to loosen, but not completely remove this bolt. This is because the wheel has to come off, and it takes some force, so having the bolt loose but not off prevents the wheel from ending up in your teeth.
Step 4: Once the wheel is removed, this is what you will see:
Note the two leads coming out, that is the airbag lead and the horn lead. On the steering boss kit I got, it provided for a plug in resistor for the airbag, and a plug in lead for the horn (both attached here).
Step 5 to end: After attaching those leads, making sure the wheels are straight forward (it helps to mark the spindle before completely removing the wheel - that's what the masking tape is for by the way - and you can also see the paint I applied), attach the boss following the instructions that come with the kit. The boss should slide onto the spindle, and there are some "guides" that stick out to ensure the boss is on straight. The wire leads are taped around the boss itself, and then the cover goes on. Then you choose which adaptor plate to use and attach your steering wheel with 6 small Allen head bolts, attach the horn button (I chose to use a Nismo one I found) and you are done!
So what do people think? Like or dislike? As someone told me once "everyone has a Momo" so I wanted something different. Not a big fan of Alcantara, so leather was the choice. If I had to critique, I'd say the color of the leather could be a bit blacker, but that's about it. The wheel is about 2cm smaller than the stock wheel, and much thicker which means it feels a lot more sporty.
Anyway, yet still a couple of other mods to talk about, will be posting about those soon so stay tuned!
This time, both Thomas (purple R33 GT-R - his blog) and Terrance (white R33 GT-R who ran with me at Tsukuba in September) decided to run in this track day. So we convoyed to Fuji and arrived a bit past 0800, checked in and proceeded to get our cars ready for the run.
Here is how we looked, ready to go.
Oh, you may notice one "mod" here - I was one of the lucky few to be able to order, and purchase new, these limited edition Nismo LMGT4 rims. Of course, me being me, before I put them on I spent some time in my garage apply some glass coating.
The glass coating.
This worked great on my stock 17inch rims, which to this day I can blast with water and the dust just rinses off. But on black wheels, I have to say I am not sure about its effectiveness - first because black actually doesn't show the dust as badly as a silver wheel, and also because, in its application, I found that it's very easy to leave minute scratches in the gloss black.
But, in the end, it was worth it - and here is a close up of the front wheel and the R35 caliper and rotor.
On this day, SSCT had blocked off two full hours - one at 1100, and the other at 1300. However, I chose to run only 30 minutes at a time, for a total of one hour. In retrospect, I probably should have taken advantage and run the full 2 hours, but I was worried about putting too much stress on my car. In part, I was worried about how the new brakes would hold up - but that turned out to be NO PROBLEM at all, I ended up being able to easily slow down for the first corner with no fade, every single lap. Best mod ever?
Temperatures were cold that day, I believe the track surface was about 2 or 3 degrees C, and it took a while for the tires to warm up. But I was fiddling with a few new items - one the DigSpice GPS track data recorder, and also the new iPhone app called "Harry's LapTimer" which allows video recording (of every other lap) plus GPS data plotting. I also had on board my trusty old Panasonic video camera, as well as the LapShot laptimer device.
Needless to say, my first 30 minute stint I was more concerned about getting all of these working properly than setting my best time! In the end, I discovered I had gotten the DigSpice and LapShot to work, but not the iPhone app the first time out. And second time out, I got all three to work, but the iPhone holder failed, resulting in video taken at various weird angles.
Howver, I plan to have the data and video from the above items processed soon, and will post an entry with these materials soon.
Anyway - here are photos from Adam of me in action:
Finally - here is video of me (third car) flying by on the Fuji straight. I was probably still accelerating on my way to about 260kph - not as much boost that day - about 1.2 I think - meant a lower top speed. Enjoy!
Ninomiya-san at BeAmbitious to the rescue - he was able to, at short notice find a shop that had both a Dynapack and was willing to swap the exhausts, and do two sets of dyno runs, for a reasonable price. So off I went today to this shop - called Uchida Car World near the Yokohama Lalaport shopping center, down the street from BeAmbitious.
First order of business. Get the sound of the Fujitsubo on video. Ok so as Dino (who came to take some photos and film as well) pointed out A BIT TOO LATE, when shooting video with an iPhone, hold it sideways...
So I apologize for the "thin" videos that follow.
Anyway, here we are trying to get the sound of the Fujitsubo...
After getting scolded for revving the car on the street - you see Uchida Car Works is on a busy pedestrian street! - we waited until they moved the car inside the garage to be set up for the dyno - a Dynapack which measures at the hubs.
This is in contrast to the rolling road type of dyno at SuperAutobacs where I had my car measured about 4 years ago.
Believing that the boost was set at 1.3, we began the first run... only to end up with some weird numbers - only 299.7ps? What's going on? Ninomiya-san quickly figured out that my boost controller was inoperative - no power going to it. (but actually, that means the boost was set to somewhere around 0.7, which given this uncorrected number - 300ps - means the engine is very healthy, no?)
Suspecting a short or ground issue, he began poking around... and then we began to literally disassemble the dash to figure out where the wiring went. After spotting some burnt wiring, luckily we found that it was a blown fuse, so we put the interior back together and we were in business.
But this time - in order to obtain the best results possible, we set the max boost at 1.5.
Doing the run again - twice - with the Fujitsubo on, we got the following numbers:
First run - 425.3 ps and 54.6 kg/m of torque. Ok, respectable numbers - but Uchida-san said he wanted to let the engine "warm up" a bit... so we waited a few minutes and then ran again.
Second run - 442.2 ps and 56.2 kg/m.
Not bad at all considering these are numbers at the hub, and uncorrected for "what the engine makes." Ninomiya-san had suggested we view only the raw data much as he did in his Nismo days, so that's what we did.
Dino commented that a "standard" correction number thrown around in the GTR world was 20%... Ninomiya said 10%... and later research on the web I found 15%. Anyway, a whole can of worms... but I'll take the 20% figure!!! LOL.
20% means that 442.2 ps at the hubs is "REALLY" 1.2 times that at the engine, or 530.64 ps!! Heck I'll take that! And furthermore, given that the boost as reported by Ninomiya went all the way to 1.38, VERY consistent with my results at SuperAutobacs 4 years ago (508ps at 1.3).
Anyway due to all this excitement I forgot to take video... but I think Dino may have some, I will have to ask...
THen it was time to remove the car from the Dyno, lift it up and replace the Fujitsubo with the Tomei exhaust.
Here it was as they began laying it out.
Finally, they began the run with the Tomei:
Unfortunately the sound did not come out as well as I thought it would. But I DID measure using an dB meter app - and there was a difference of 6dB between the two! The Tomei is LOUD! Will try to re-record something like the first video above.
So what kind of performance did the Tomei generate?
Again, two runs.
First run - 452.1 ps, and 58.3 kg/m of torque.
Second run - 466.2 ps, and 58.3 kg/m of torque.
Again using the "20%" conversion factor - 466.2 x 1.2 = 559.44 ps. So basically 560ps!!!
Well even if we conservatively multiply by 10% - ie 1.1, that is still 512.82 ps.
Anyway, looking at the raw data, can we say that the Tomei Expreme allowed the car to generate an extra 40.9 ps? (Last run minus first run).
Not quite - I think a more accurate comparison would be 466.2 minus 442.2 (both second runs), for a difference of 24 ps.
Calculated against 442.2ps, we have a gain of 5.42%
Not bad - but there is ONE MORE FACTOR to consider. On the Tomei run, its better breathing allowed the engine to spool up the turbos to 1.49 (vs 1.38 on the Fujitsubo). Clearly by comparing the graphs (which I'll scan in later) you can see that, up until about 4000 rpm, the power curve is almost identical - but then on the Tomei runs, is more vertical and ends up at higher numbers after. Also you will note that the second Tomei run, the power curve is jagged - we think the clutch was slipping!!!
So is this extra 0.1 of boost responsible for the difference?
Honestly, I'm not sure. All I know is that the Tomei pipe is gorgeous to look at, at least 6 dB louder (in fact so loud that when I got home, I had to fit the inner silencer), and a few kg lighter. And priced only about 10,000 yen more! (the price of the Fujitsubo has gone up since I bought it!).
Conclusion - Tomei it is!
So in a couple of days, I'll be tracking the car at Fuji Speedway, and hope to have flyby video so we can hear what it sounds like at speed! LOL. Stay tuned!