about the talking fish

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Writer. Wheelman. Occasional DIY mechanic. Walking collection of hang-ups. Hopeless romantic. Old-school. Analog soul in a digital world. I am all of these things and more.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

First crack at BRC




When Edward told me about a trackday event at Batangas Racing Circuit to be sponsored by Cong. Mark Mendoza...I wasn't about to pass it up. Seeing how much costlier BRC's rental fee is compared to Subic International Raceway, I immediately jumped at the chance.

My first exposure to it was in Mel's car, with me and Cliff along for the ride. Mel himself was following our instructor JP Castellano driving one of his students' Civics. JP's first lap was deliberately taken slow so that we could see the correct line through the corners, effectively in slow motion. After that, Mel decided he wanted a crack at the circuit left to his own devices.

I distinctly remember being a little spooked at first. Mel understeered through several corners at first, trying to learn the correct line at speed. The scariest part was the chicane. Understeer through that and you have nowhere to go but the tire wall, which Cliff sadly had a taste of first-hand.

When it was my turn to ride along with my groupmates (experienced from previous trackdays but new to BRC), I didn't fare much better than Mel's first foray either. BRC is loaded with double-apex turns, and I had frustration all morning with the very deceptive R-Bend. All told, I had Mav time me and I got a lap time of 2:28.6. So much room for improvement there.

Later in the afternoon I got tips from my friend Francis Arjonillo and, later on, JP himself while driving Cliff's car Sam, scuffs and all. I was fascinated with spots on the track where one could actually induce understeer to squeeze out a little more exit speed - critical for a low-powered car like Aibo. Momentum maintenance was the key. With their tutelage, I slashed my time down to a personal best of 2:20.8. JP was glad I cut eight seconds just by observation.



The best was yet to come though. Before the end of the day, I bugged JP to drive Aibo. I wanted to see how much more I could improve, and he obliged. With astonishing self-belief, he dove deep into the corners with super-late braking, and screeched Aibo's Toyo Proxes 4s from entry to exit round many a double apex. Such consistency too: all his laps were 2:18s or 2:17s, the best one a brake-fluid-boiling 2:17.21. After JP's stint, the tires and brakes had overheated and the brake pedal went noticeably longer due to bubbling fluid under hard use. Notably though, we shared a very similar line.

I'm very glad I got to sample BRC the way I did. My only regret was I didn't have my own GoPro or ContourHD camcorder to record my laps - I had to rely on Mav's brother Paolo and his cellphone for that. I'm looking forward to more.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why, dammit, why

Why can't we all just get along?

Why can't we just follow the damn rules and respect the people in authority?

Why can't we just listen to the grievances of others without biases?

Why can't we stop crowding and tailgating other cars while driving?

Why do our egos always have to get in the way?

Why don't we look enough times before we leap?

Why won't the feuding ever stop?

Why do we have to get jealous of what other people have?

Why are we so trigger-happy?

Twenty-eight days ain't enough

February is a busy, busy month for me - much busier than normal.

Last week Mav and I went to Canyon Cove for my birthday and to ACE Water Spa on the weekend, and then the week before that I went to Niku and Chielou's fabulous wedding.

Tomorrow my mate Ador and I will be participating at the Accenture Badminton Club Cup tournament, while the weekend after, Mav, Joghz, Paolo, Ara and I will be going to Batangas Racing Circuit for my first trackday there.

All the while, my beloved Uncle Butch and Auntie Carole are vacationing here with us until the beginning of March.

It's certainly a jam-packed month. So many things are happening every week that it actually feels slower and more enjoyable than normal. I think I could've planned it out a little better so I could spend more time with my aunt and uncle, but so far so good.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy birthday to me

Wow I've turned yet another year on my life. I must be getting old! Hahaha!

It was a lovely lazy day spent with the love of my life on a road trip to one of the coolest resorts in Batangas, Canyon Cove. Then we had a great dinner at Manos Greek Taverna in Tagaytay. Aibo's legs really got stretched this time as we overtook a bunch of cars at full throttle along Nasugbu and Tagaytay's streets.

Not a bad way to turn twenty-seven. Wait a minute, who's counting again?

Thanks much to everyone who greeted and everyone who gave me presents: Tita Hedwig for the gorgeous Seiko 5 SNZG57K automatic watch, Mav for the very early present of the Deuter Giga laptop backpack, Bianca for her hand-me-down 5800, Mama for the cool, racey-looking jacket, and Papa for the nice black belt.

I'm sunburnt, red-eyed, tired, pooped but very happy. Ta ta!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Windows of opportunity

Apologies for not updating as often as I should. PLDT has basically given me the shoddiest DSL ever and it's become nigh-impossible to catch it working at home.

I am in a fascinating time. There are so many opportunities and activities opening up for me that I can't help but get excited at all the potential I'm smelling.

For three weeks now Mav and I have been jogging at Bonifacio High Street. We basically thought of turning to running as a way of keeping ourselves fit and maybe lose some weight, but so far we've been enjoying ourselves pounding away at the hard-packed concrete sidewalks. Mav is steadily getting better as she gets used to the demands of jogging.

Team Flat Out also invited me to Don Pastor's plan of making what they call a "gentlemen's racing series" - basically an open wheel-to-wheel racing class for daily driven cars and amateur drivers who have no racing licenses. If you can imagine what Keiichi Tsuchiya and his fellow race-driver co-hosts do on every episode of "Best Motoring" around Tsukuba Circuit, I reckon you wouldn't be far off.

Also when I try figuring out what I want to do with my life, it seems everything points to the direction of cars. Summit Media, that publishing giant with its offices just three floors down from mine, had a number of job vacancies, and Mav encouraged me to send in my application. Sadly there was no opening for "Top Gear Philippines" but maybe I could start elsewhere with that dream of being an automotive journalist in mind.

My only reservations revolve around leaving my comfort zone, I suppose. For better or worse I've adapted to my current situation pretty well, and there's a part of me that's fearful of leaving something that's already pretty secure. Then again I seem to have hit a wall and have stopped growing...perhaps because I've grown tired of my daily work grind.

So many opportunities, yet so many insecurities as well. It's an exciting time to be alive.