From wall to the podium (1)

I believe in planting good seeds; so that later on, you reap what you sow. In short, I work for the things I want in life. And so far, it has worked for me 80 percent of the time. For the rest 20 percent that didn’t, I believe God had other plans for them.

Recently, I reached a podium spot at the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup Auto Cross — finally. Let me repeat that part again — finally. Well, it was a tough journey, I tell you. It was not for the faint of heart.

It took me three seasons before finally landing there atop a podium spot. Whew.

Being a racing enthusiast, I’ve been doing kart races ever since the start of my motoring journalism career and I’ve topped quite a number of races, particularly among my colleagues in the media. I’ve always loved the speed, the adrenaline, all the electrifying and hair — if not — hell-raising high racing can give you. It’s even actually my stress-reliever after a hard day at work, wherein I would kart almost weekly pre-pandemic.

For almost two decades, I’ve been used to racing using the full length of the track since that’s what we do in karting and I can say that I’ve come to learn the racing line like the back of my hand. Modesty aside. However, in the motorsports branch of autocross, this kind of concept hardly applies — or so I thought. For starters, autocross is a timed competition wherein drivers navigate through a makeshift course. Unlike racing on the track, which is already a fixed infrastructure, in autocross, traffic cones and barriers are used, which can easily be modified. Here, a racer can encounter chicanes, tight entries, 180-degree up to 540-degree turns, so on and so forth. Top speeds here could only reach up to 80kph and gear shifts could only do up to the third since the track is shorter compared to ones used in circuit or in karting. Brakes and turns are more frequent here because of the slaloms and average 100-meter straights before turning compared to 200-300 meters on the race track. Precision — too — is of utmost importance. A mistake may cost you added precious seconds or a DNF (did not finish). Once you tumble a pylon, an automatic two-second penalty is added to your total time. So, if you hit three pylons during your entire run, six seconds are added to you. Sharp memory is likewise needed since you have to memorize the whole track layout. Otherwise, once you get confused, miss a turn and simply forget to follow the specified track layout, a DNF penalty is automatically handed to you.

(To be continued)

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