All posts by ddude8

Ellen

MINI Cooper S R53.

A mouthful to say, and only makes sense to a few. And now probably it would to you after reading this post.

The MINI Cooper has been a household name in motoring with its small sized nature and super cornering abilities. And R53 being its model number for the ones that rolled off the production line from 2002-2006. Many a time people downplay MINI’s, overlooking them, with the occasional ‘Hey! thats a cute car!” exclamation and then its back to fawning over the A1’s and the Sirocco’s, being yet another individual fallen prey to the blitzkrieg of a marketing campaign the VW group has been dumping massive amounts of money into.

But, little do they know the potential of the little car, turning tighter through any corner than any other in its class, and the ability to whizz in and out of traffic, getting you out of “tough spot” situations. These are only experiences a MINI owner would know. Or with any luck, people who have gotten behind the wheel of a MINI. There is a special feeling when you get behind the wheel of one. And i was lucky to have that opportunity when my parents got me one in 2011.

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This is Ellen. A year 2006 Mini Cooper S R53. She’s the last of the Supercharged MINI’s. She was pure fun and brilliant to drive, and as a first car, i learnt lots about driving in it. It could take bends without worry with a mild camber setting and lowered springs on the car. The Center Gravity was perfect. Of course it comes with the occasional scraping of the bumper on massively high speed humps and if you had one or two more passengers that had extra to eat at dinner riding at the back, tyre rubs shudders from the wheel arches into the cabin, never fails to get everyone cringing and ooh-ing.

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British Racing Green, the colour she came in. Repulsed by many. Loved by a few. And me? I Adored it to the core, it made the car look inconspicuous to many, yet preserves the time classic colour that not many cars are able to pull off. Yeah, lets try see this colour on your Vee-Dub.

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I’ve had loads of fun times and memories in the car, and lets face it, lots of lancer-lution wannabe’s or colts and swifts tried their fair share of pushing from behind but when the throttle goes down, Ellen’s 1.6 litre Supercharged engine whines with every rev following its pitch higher and higher. I could only imagine the look on the other driver’s faces when they thought the MINI looked like a pushover.

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The car came pre-modded, with lowered H&R Springs and Konig Rims. If you could call that a mod.

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But i loved it anyway, being the PARK LANE edition it bore this extra badge on the side.

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The car never had really much of an exhaust growl. Though when pedal to the metal came no one really complained about it anyways.

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Which was funny too. I keep getting asked, the question often accompanied by a snigger, ‘how fast can a MINI go?’

To which my reply would be ‘How fast do you expect it to go? Its a MINI, its by all means no EVO killer, but sure, on the straights it can’t smell an evo for jack. But outlast that and lets play the tune in the corners’

I learnt too that its not about speed. Everyone else just wants to see how fast their rides can reach 0-100 in, and keep bettering that and what not. But in the course of it, i realised MINI owners don’t really sought that, rather more on how their rides reflect their personality instead. No two MINI’s are identical. Neither are our personalities. Thats what makes it so special, thats what makes the MINI such an awesome car. Never is there another marque that gives the same experience.

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Being an old car, Wear and tear takes its toll, Look what camber wear does to your tyre

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Tyre wear is horrid, makes rain driving a little difficult, but either way i loved it. The low ride, the camber, the insane cornering angles you could put the car in.

Oh and, the friend’s you make.

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I Joined up the local MINI community “THEMINIMOB” And went for convoys with them. Scoring a bunch of 40 odd MINI’s down orchard road was a pretty rad experience. Not to mention a delightful sight for the onlookers.

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Now, let me show you what she looks like on the inside~

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The awesome centre console never gets old.

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As the old handbrake wilted away i changed it for a Sparco Settanta one.

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Not the cleanest engine bay, but it produces the nicest sounds.

And yes.. the only thing done to the bay was an ALTA Air Filter. That ensured more cold air into the engine~

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Sweet lights too. With PIAA bulbs fitted in place. It looked awesome at night.

By now though you must be wondering, why the post on your car?

Well, my parents laid upon me the decision to sell the car. It was ageing much and was time to let her go due to rising costs in repairs and upkeep.

I fetched my sister to school in Ellen, my grandma to the market, got me to camp when and back safely when i was still serving NS, heck, even mounting bikes for trail riding! There was even once we squeezed 7 people into the little thing!

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Ellen sang me her sweet sweet whine and i managed to get this awesome mileage number on her before letting her go.

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Indeed she has been the best first car anyone could ever ask for.

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And above is the last time i saw her, handed over the keys to the dealer, who said that the new owners are anxious to get her.

Hopefully they’d take good care of her.

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I keep a keen eye out on the streets now to see if i’ll get to catch a glimpse of her again. Perhaps one day..

Be Nice Ellen, Be Safe, BE MINI.”

I know what you’re thinking.

What’s next?

Well. As it turns out, the silver lining from selling my beloved Ellen came with a Spicy orange tinge~

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Till that post.. Stay classy all!

Honda NSX-R GT

Spoon Sports has always been a favourite tuning company of mine. The religious vtec followings of the company that pushes their tuned cars to higher potentials and not only that, keeping driver comfort in mind, unlike the other 2 big aftermarket honda tuning companies. That is the speciality of the blue and yellow painted company.

I’ve always been watching videos on youtube of the Spoon Cars. Having the chance to sit in one of the FD2R race cars with the engine started just fuelled the love for the Spoon brand even further. Years ago i came across a video of Spoon entering in the 2009 Macau GP. And the NSX-R GT they entered looked brilliant.

That was until Spoon Boss Tatsuru Ichishima lost control of the V6 engined beast coming out of a corner, hitting a wall, sending the car into a continuous spiralled spin. But of course, being Spoon, they revived the vehicle and went on to race the next day.

 

Now, when i heard that they were bringing the 3.5L C32B engined Spoon NSX-R GT to the Tokyo Auto Salon Singapore, i had to go check it out and see it for myself. And oh boy did it look gorgeous.

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The ever so famous blue and yellow livery.

 

 

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Kinda looks like a stingray from this angle don’t it?

 

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Fitted with Advan Slicks and the shiny blue Spoon Caliper Kit brings powerful stopping power to the car.

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TYPEONE, the name of the spoon tuning factory in japan, right beneath the aero wing mirrors.

 

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Air-Ports right by the door.

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And not to mention the massive air intake for the engine bay unique to the NSX-R GT.

I don’t know much technicalities of the car so i’ll just redirect you here, to someone who had access to even trying the car on the track, Dino from Speedhunters.

Meanwhile i’ll just leave you with a wallpaper worthy shot.

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McDonald’s Japan

Now we all love our favourite fast food chain McDonald’s, which is probably the biggest fastfood chain in the world. And, well, also my favourite.

Here is something i came across on the internet about McD’s having loads different types of special unique items in their menu’s all over the world! From Soups, to beer and even oven baked rolls!

But that being said, the strongest impression of any overseas macs i’ve been to is Japan.

 

Here are some shots from the McDonald’s in Japan taken during the trip there in 08 and 09.

 

Here are the 09 shots where we took a break at mcd’s after a long walk around shinsaibashi in osaka:

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Mc Nuggets

 

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Corn!

 

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Sab enjoying fries and Icecream.

 

Here is a morning breakfast i had with some mates in the hotel room during the school band trip to tokyo in 08:

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Really beautiful packaging there.

 

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Sausage egg McMuffin.

 

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Hotcakes!

 

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And what i loved the most, Pokemon cups. HAHA!

On the menu was a McPork, which we don’t have here in Singapore, missed out on trying that though but ah well, there’ll be others~

To be honest, they food there tasted the same as you would have in Singapore, but definately i’d say there’d be differences compared to those served in American or European countries.

 

I’ll do a post on Singapore’s McDonald’s one day so do stay tuned for that!

 

I’m lovin it~

Toyota Celica GT-Four Carlos Sainz Edition

I have never been a fan of the toyota celica, and not sure if i ever will. I mean the latest version was, lets face it, not so pretty looking nor particularly quick.

So whilst at work the other day, i noticed an old T180 series celica being revved over and over, an expected issue ridden car perhaps? With that thought in mind i didn’t even bother to look or ask any of the mechanics what was wrong with the vehicle, until when it was fixed and sitting right there at the car park.

And then i thought i should go for a closer look.

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The paint chipped vehicle sat there, as if it were sulking. Without any further exterior scrutiny, i headed straight for the door and opened it.

A queefy smell immediately waffed into my nose, sending me a step back, then proceeding to peer into the japanese made machine.

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Stock, totally stock interior. Less the mess, it would have been pristine, except for some ants roaming about but hey, thats awfully rare to see such old cars in their stock state, especially the interior.

Doing a little bit more prodding around i realised another reason why the car has been kept stock. A little plate in front of the dull looking gear shifter states “CELICA TURBO 4WD CARLOS SAINZ LIMITED EDITION 4839 – 5000”

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No kidding, then i started to appreciate the car a little more, looking at how even the words on the door hinge guard was still intact and falling off

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The Speedo that read 120 over thousand kilometres done, i could only imagine how much action the 2 litre, inline 4 engined rally inspired car has seen. Oh and the production year 1991 means its a year older than i am.

By Rally Inspired i mean that for rallying that season, they had to homologate the car to 5000 units to be sold around the world. And of that only 25 set its tyres on Singapore soil. With Carlos Sainz, their rally driver at the time lent his name and signature to be borne on the car.

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The 4 Cylinder turbo DOHC engine with a water cooled intercooler churns out 205 horses at 6000rpm with a 0-100km/h in 7.6 seconds.

Interesting enough too was that the 3S-GTE engine was the first in the world to use laser beams to weld the cylinder head for better heat dissipation.

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The suspensions are a MacPherson Strut fittings with anti-roll bars

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The Hood sports something i have not seen before too, an air inlet points into the engine bay to cool the timing belt.

This edition also sports the clutch stroke and gear lever throw being reduced, giving the driver quicker gear shifting times.

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So much history in a Car that not many notices. I would love a chance to drive the car sometime but the fact that it belongs to a customer means that chance might not surface.

After all, it has taught me how to not judge a book by its cover, for there might be much more underneath.

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Mother’s Day – Kalinka

As far as i remember, i never knew what the true meaning of the russian dolls ‘Kalinka’ was. All i know was that they were just dolls within dolls. As in open the big doll and whoa, there’s a smaller one inside, and open that and guess what, yes, another one. And it goes on and on.

With mothers day around the corner, i coincidentally came across an advertisement with that of the Kalinka, except it came with a little interesting mash-up. It was a limited edition set of that from swatch.

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Here is an excerpt from the site arab news

“Inspired by Russian folklore, Swatch has created a lovely Mother’s Day gift — a set of five nested Matryoshka dolls with three Swatch watches hidden inside.
Three is the magic number of these famous Russian dolls, which tell the story of three generations of women: a mother, her daughter, and her grand-daughter, each one nested within her own mother.
Each one is also a delightful surprise when the larger doll is opened up and reveals a smaller one inside.”

Source: http://www.arabnews.com/swatch-creates-lovely-mother’s-day-gift

This led me to of course, going out on a whim and calling up my local swatch stores for it, however all the stores on the little singapore island said that they did not have them in stock and that demand was real high.

So i wasn’t the quickest and many others have the same yearning for this ‘6000 limited piece’ set. I immediately got my reservation down for one admist a supposed already long waiting list. Lucky enough though, a few weeks later i got a call and zoomed down to the stores i did.

 

The Kalinka dolls sports a floral design, fitting for motherly love and similar designs follow throughout the smaller ones.

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And of course, dolls revealing more dolls.

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The watches, too, sports sizes that go from the standard swatch sizes, to a mid size and then “what is that goodness thats tiny?!”

Alright i might have exagerated but you get the idea.

 

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Was really hoping to find gold in the last doll visioning a secret gift from swatch and all but no, it was empty.

Overall it turned out well, my Grandmother and Mom loved it, so did my sister whom the last watch fell to, though she ain’t a mother yet, hmmm. and i look forward to that day.

 

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Grandmother sporting the Blue watch

 

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Mom enjoying the red

 

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And sis with the little green one.

Hopefully this was an interesting Mother’s Day present for them!

How was your mother’s day celebration for your Mom’s?

 

GGR update and Photography Portfolio!

You May or May Not know about GGR. And yes! It is still alive!

Please do give me your support. we are almost 6 years old already and counting!

To give you a recap, GGR stands for “GAMES GADGETS REVIEWS” Of which reviews and unboxings of games and gadgets are done in a short episode based format on youtube!

Do subscribe to the wertypoo youtube channel for more.

Also you can check out betterdanthis’ own GGR Page for links to all the past videos!

(p.s: you get to see my years ago when i was.. um.. rounder)

This blog will also be used for GGR Related posts in the future! Bringing you more updates and of course, tech goodness!

 

Aside from that, I have finally updated the Photography page on betterdanthis, featuring a short portfolio of my works so far.

And yes, if you don’t mind an always learning photographer, i am for hire! More details on the page.

For more though, stay locked onto my Flickr page for my full works. Coming soon!

 

Spread the word!

Love, Dan.

Tokyo Auto Salon Singapore 2013

Tokyo Auto Salon, the biggest ever auto expo probably ever has landed in Singapore. Now i do have to admit, i was first skeptical about it, how would this rival its Original badass parent from Japan? How could it ever compare? I managed to get a Media Pass in my hands, and down i went!

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Top Secret 86

 

The Auto Salon was graced with big aftermarket tuners such as Top Secret, RE Amemiya, Spoon, Tommy Kaira and more. Oooh, just looking at the brands there was amazing. However most of them only had one car on display. Which was disappointing. I will do more individual posts on the cars in time to come. Meanwhile just ooze saliva at these beautiful cars.

 

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Mugen RR Advanced Concept

 

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Spoon Sports NSX-R GT

 

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Amuse S2000

 

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Falken had their Z out

 

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The local GTR Club was there too with a host of R35’s on Display

And lets not forget the race queens~

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Alright alright, hold your horses, i’ll get to a dedicated post on that soon.

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Where there will be race queens, there will be photographers. And there will be loads of them.

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Japanese Super Girl Group outfit AKB48 Also performed to a massive crowd!

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TAS Also brought out their very own “J-Girls” their very own Race Queens from Japan. Oh and boy did they get the crowd excited.

Well all in all it was well, the best we could get here in singapore. It does fall short however to its Japanese parent held annually in tokyo.

I do hope that the future events held here in singapore will be scaled up further.

 

Meanwhile, Do hang tight for the posts on the individual cars to come and yes yes, the race queens.

How bout Tokyo Auto Salon in Japan next year?

 

 

Cheryl Tay Automotive Photography Class

So over the weekend i attended Cheryl Tay‘s Automotive Photography Class. The class was meant to highlight and teach students on how to shoot, well.. cars! Cheryl, is a local automotive journalist, and as you could already tell from her name, she’s the only female automotive journalist in singapore.

Depending on whether the cars were static(stationary) or moving.

The two day course started off at the Infiniti Showroom at Alexandra, with the basics covered again to make sure all the budding car photographers there were on the same page, we shot some cars.

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We learnt various angle and composition techniques from a guest speaker, Adrain from vanqphotorque photography, who does shoots for a whole load of car magazines in singapore.

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The first day was theory filled but the second day allowed us to try out some proper automotive photography, panning shots.

But first, just like you would have at a grid walk, we learnt how to take static car shots under perfect sun lighting.

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There is cheryl’s “pink mobile.” Yes. a Honda S2000 decked out in pink, will do an article on that someday. My darling Ellen is sitting green at the right corner and a sweet BMW 1M at the back.

 

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Oh yeah, panning shots. Meaning the photographer sets his/her camera up for a shutter speed that matches the car’s movement, fires it and pans the camera shooting the car. Simple enough.

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Ellen got in on the action too!

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So did a C180 Coupe Turbocharged.

Lastly we headed to Jurong Kartright Speedway for the final segment of the class, shooting karts on a track.

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Overall it was a pretty enlightening lesson, Certainly learnt great useful stuff. Rather than trying to do it myself just like when i did in the previous posts.

So… Perhaps.. Automotive Journalism too? HEHEHE. Ah.. What gives..

Till then.. maybe a 24-70mm lens will be a good starter into a newer realm of camera shooting…

Quick update Feb 2013

Gosh, it has been awhile since i posted something.

So here’s a quick update of whats been up!

Well lots has happened since the end of my stint with the army.

 

Here’s the last ever pic of me as an NSF!

Well.. that be until reservist. (sigh..)

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A little plague from them to show their “appreciation” of my service to the nation. Signifies my two years that i whiled away.

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Jam sessions and fun ensued.

 

Also, of course, i went back to work at DWA, an automotive workshop in the Sin Ming industrial estate.

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Which of course since my car’s speakers were giving problems, was the most convenient of all places to replace them!

 

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The sweetest looking rides come and go at the workshop, always a thrill to go to work.

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Beautiful Jaguar E-Type.

 

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Also had opportunities to drive really awesome rides such as this Mini Cooper.

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92nd Division is coming along fine too! A little rocky still, but we’re trudging through! Hopefully =X

 

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Of course also, our Sparco showroom was visited by the ever so brilliant Masataka Yanagida, who’s car won the Super GT two times in a row! Also he races for the company grown “Petronas Syntium Team

 

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Chinese new year came and went.

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And with the awesome food and hongbao receiving over, it means back to work.

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The magical Fiat Abarth will end this post. I really do promise to post more often!

School’s starting in a week’s time and i’d be busy to my knees soon.

 

Till then.. Cheers!

Super Taikyu Rd 6 Autopolis

Ok, So last November, i was priviledged enough to join the Petronas Syntium Team up in Oita Prefecture for their last round battle in  the Super Taikyu Endurance Series.

Having already clinched the title in the previous round, this race was a much looked forwarded to end of season race for the team.

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Oita mountainous regions houses Autopolis Circuit.

The Kawasaki owned 4.7km circuit accompanied with the weather conditions of the time of the year, and the upland area location means the atmosphere is thin and by god was it cold.

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Petronas Syntium Team’s Malaysian Veteran Driver Fariqe Hairuman Shelters himself from the cold in the pit tents and puts some add on’s to his helmet livery.

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The first few days were a blast. With splendid weather conditions. Clear weather for both practice and qualifying sessions!

 

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Autopolis circuit hosted a slew of pretty nice looking honda sponsored safety/marshal cars.

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There was also a dedicated smoking bus! Parked there right beside the loo!

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Surrounded by the massive massive mountains.

Before it all, i embarked on a track walk with some of the young guns from the team.

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Also the two photographers shooting their pro cameras and millions of frames per second in front of them is none other than Larry Chen from the Speedhunters and Cheryl Tay, a revered female automotive journalist from Singapore.

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The elevation changes of the track were gradual incline or declines which proved to be a task for the drivers after shooting out from sharp hairpin corners.

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Of course, the team runs two Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3.

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Other cars that competed in our class were a Speedracer Liveried Ferrari 458 Italia and Nissan GTR’ GT3s.

Now, as race day approached, The weather took a sudden turn for the worst.

Heavy fog.

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The winds were so strong that it even blew the pit tent off! I had to stay in the team trailer without a heater, was literally freezing my ass off.

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This caused problems as there were poor racing conditions. a slow and excruciating delay ensued.

After which we were all called into the pits for a meeting.

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Here a little special panoramic view of the pit meeting of the whole team.

We were told that the race format has been changed. From a 3 to a 2 hour endrance race with 3 mandatory driver changes.

 

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Grid girls were out in FULL force admist the fog and cold weather.

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I Certainly do admire their perserverance, though i suppose they do get paid quite a fair bit.

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Cheryl launching herself in a super camera taking position.

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Some of the Grid Girls were luckier than not. They had more on.

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And then it was on to the windy and wet track for the start of the race(behind the safety car)

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The race started with foggy conditions all the way, and eventually ended with a red flag 75% in, we were unlucky this round and clinched a 2nd and 3rd place spot on the podium. Not exactly the best way to end the season.

Overall it was a eye opening experience for me there this race. And if you were wondering, i was handling the team’s social media pages!

Namely the Facebook Page And the Instagram Page.

Do follow them if you could!

Here are some of the instagram shots i took whilst on the trip!

Enjoy!

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After the race, we Scrambled to pack up everything and headed straight for the car as temperatures were dropping real quick.

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Larry says, This way home!

 

We went down the twisty “Initial D” like mountain roads of Oita and headed for Fukuoka, afterwhich the whole team will disperse back to their own countries.

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Well, Fingers crossed i’ll be able to join the team for their ventures next season.

Till then!

Adios!

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