Behind the visor – Idlers 12 hour enduro

Every July, Nakai-san and the RAUH family get together, it isn’t exactly dinner and drinks but rather a gruelling 12 hour endurance race held at Motegi Circuit.  RWB family from all over the world, jump on a plane and make their way to the man cave to hang out, prep cars, and eat bowls of ramen at 5am.  This may seem a little different to the approach of most teams but it is as much about the experience of the journey to Idlers, as it is driving in it for 12 hours.  I asked my friend Caroline, who was driving in the 12 hour enduro for the first time to answer a few questions, and give her take on driving in the enduro for the first time.  She is certainly no stranger to driving fast, so here is a ‘behind the visor’ take on her Idlers 12 hour enduro.

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First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself.  Where are you from and how did you get into cars? What is your local scene like?

CP: I’m from Incheon, Korea.  I got into cars through Japanese anime, Initial D inspired me a lot when I was 14. Honestly, my local car scene isn’t as great as Japan or any other countries. It’s slowly growing, but I think it will take some time.

What do you do for work back home? Do you do any competitive driving?

CP: I’m a track driving instructor in Korea and used to race for Team GReddy Korea.

13768374_172340129844872_1601662959_nWhat is your daily driver?

CP: My daily driver is a r32. I have been driving this model for 14 years and the one i have is my 4th r32. I still have one more which I tried to make into a race car. (no number plate lol!)

What do you enjoy most about being out on a circuit in a car?

CP: For me, I love to set my own goals for every race and achieve them, working on self-development is so much fun.

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How did you get involved with RWB?

CP: I met Nakaisan at the 2015 SEMA show in Vegas. Christian Coujin invited me to their private (RWB members only) dinner and introduced me to Nakaisan. Since then, we have got closer and became good friends. He knows that I’m a driving instructor and racer at the same time. So he asked me to join the Idlers 12 hr enduro for a good experience.

What did you know about RWB before travelling to Japan?

CP: Oh well, I was a huge fan of Nakaisan and RWB through youtube videos since many years ago. And now Nakai-san and I became good friends before I first travelled to Japan. I always love & admire his passion working on every masterpiece.

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13734309_635707239919092_52573497_nWhat was your first impression of seeing the RWB workshop and the RWB cars in person?

CP: It was so cozy and so not like any other garages. I can feel the ‘ROUGH’ style of Nakaisan lol! RWB in person felt amazing. The whole figure of it and all the lines, I just can’t describe in a single word.

What was your impression of Idlers 12 hour enduro before you drove in it?

CP: Some of the RWB drivers were non-experienced on track, but some of the RWB owners were pro racers in their home countries. I expected members from RWB Japan would take this pretty seriously but I was wrong. They looked more like…happy and ready to have ‘fun’. Even for many racers, racing in an enduro is rare. It was a great time for me to learn ‘real team work’ through this Idlers race with RWB.

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IMG_6192Which car did you drive at Idlers?

CP: I drove Charlene and Natty Dread Jr. at Idlers. Nakaisan told me to try on Natty Dread Jr. too. They both felt different somehow with acceleration and brakes. And so were the suspension setups, they felt a bit different but perfect for each car. I was surprised the engines were stock ones.

What happened in the two days prior to the race while you were at RWB in Japan?

CP: So many RWB people came to visit Nakai-san’s factory. Some visitors and drivers helped Nakai-san to get his race cars ready. He usually worked till 4~5am and people who stayed till then went out for ramen lol! These are some of the unforgettable memories from those two days prior to the race.

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13722077_1016362748417952_1992770647_nHow did everyone get to the event from the RWB headquarters? What time did you leave and how long did it take to get to the circuit?

CP: We left RWB HQ around 10pm and arrived at Motegi circuit at about 2:00am. I heard it usually takes 2.5hrs to the circuit, but we had many visitors with cars. So we stopped by at a huge parking lot and filled up the Porsches. We spent some time at the parking lot waiting for other Japanese RWB owners and drivers. So it took a bit more time than it was supposed to.

How do you prepare yourself mentally and physically to drive in a 12-hour endurance race?

CP: I usually prepare for race at least a week beforehand. However this time, it’s a 12 hr endurance race, so I had to prepare a month before it. I worked out a lot, mostly on increasing endurance. I also adjusted my diet to condition my body for the race. And for the mental side of things, I studied a lot on the track through a simulator and onboard videos from YouTube.

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Tell us how the teams work in the Idlers 12 hour enduro. Do you drive for short stints? Long stints? 

CP: Everyone had the same stints for fairness. (30min each). 7~8 drivers for each car, and we were divided into 2 groups. 4 drivers drove for 4 hrs (the other 4 drivers rest till their session) and then we switched.  With the remaining time at the end, all 7~8 drivers shared the seat time.

The reason why RWB asked drivers to be divided into two groups was, every time the car comes in for a pit stop, the other 3 members from the group have to help prepare the car(refuel, tires, tire pressure, etc) for the next driver. It was great to share the time, and work on the car together.
How many members drove in your team and who were they?
CP: There were 9 drivers but Toshi-san was only there for the very first session to check on Charlene for 20min. So 8 drivers in reality. Our drivers were from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and of course Korea 😉
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 What was the highlight or highlights of the enduro for you personally?

CP: My personal highlight of the enduro was driving at night!!!! It was so thrilling. Seeing the headlights from side mirrors and tail-lights ahead were amazing.

What was the most challenging part of Motegi Circuit?

CP: The only thing I wanted to master was the last 3 corners (turn 12-14). I figured out that I could carry high speed all the way through the last turn. It’s really fun when I exit the last turn, the car goes a bit sideways from the rear due to the high speed.

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What was it like driving an RWB on the racetrack in anger? How did it handle?

CP: I had to make sure to check on stuff like oil temp, rpm etc. We weren’t there primarily to race but have a good experience with one of Nakai-san’s RWBs. Honestly, the whole balance for each car was perfect. The engine feels so nice and smooth, and you can still can feel the power from the stock engine. Plus, the suspension setup was amazing on the track.

What was the most challenging thing about driving in the 12 hour enduro?

CP: The most difficult thing? For me, I had to be aware of all the cars lol! I got invited to race for a good experience so didn’t want any slight accidents. Plus Nakai-san knows that I am a race driver and told me not to attack but to just enjoy the race. 🙂

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13743511_1770870646486991_1642349688_nIn between drives, what did you do with your time?

CP: I studied on my personal driver’s notes and did some image training. Of course I was having fun talking to other drivers or people.

What is special about driving an RWB for you personally?

CP: The whole figure and lines of RWB are amazing but mostly, I love how the aero actually has an effect during the race, adding more downforce.

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IMG_6176Do you have a favourite RWB car?

CP: ROTANA! I still can’t forget about the day sitting next to Nakaisan in Rotana….The G-force…..omg………

Outside of Japan & Korea have you done any other driving?

CP: I went to Nürburgring in April. It was so much fun driving at the Nürburgring but of course it was extremely difficult. It was like  Disneyland for drivers I guess.  I can say it is still my favourite circuit and I want to try driving on it again in the future!

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IMG_6170CP: Thanks again to Nakaisan for asking me to join idlers 12h enduro! It was such an honour for me to drive one of his masterpieces and be a part of Team RWB. Everytime I visit Japan and meet him, I learn a lot from him and of course I’ve learnt a lot from this event, too. Thanks to the other RWB members in Japan for your great effort and work!

Thanks Caroline! See you at Motegi next year!

Huge thanks to Melvin Tang & Vinh Mangalino of RWB Australia for the fantastic high res images included in this post.

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