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Old 6th November 2012, 13:30   #1
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Default My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series

Toyota had their first round of selections on Go-karts in 5 cities with the final karting round(Camp 2) tentatively planned at the Torque03 Circuit in Bangalore the next day. I was excited - I know the torq03 circuit like the back of my hand - having clocked over 500laps there. Camp 1 was split over three days and I was to drive on day three. Being a little overconfident, i didn't make any attempt to get any tracktime beforehand and that actually didn't matter! Two days into the selection process and torq03 was shut down due to some incidents that occurred on their property which was out of their control! While everyone thought the event would be called off, Toyota actually went ahead and shifted all their Karts from Torq03 to Patel's Inn(different sides of town) at 2 in the morning! They even went to the extent of moving the entire timing system to the other track - a HUGE task in itself. Hats off to the guys at Toyota/RRP/Dentsu, they were dead serious about this event.

Out of 8000 online applicants, Toyota shortlisted 800 for the first round of karting selections. I had Mr. Leelakrishnan himself as my driver coach in the first round and who gave very detailed feedback on my braking points and a couple of lines through the corners. He stressed a lot on being smooth through the corners telling me that I was scrubbing too much speed on certain sectors. His inputs saw me go fifth fastest on a track ensuring my place in the next round of selections.

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-dsc09259.jpg

The second and final karting round happened on the same track in bangalore - a big advantage to the local drivers. Top 40 were to go to Chennai for the final round of selections in the Etios itself so competition was stiff only the top 70 out of 800 made it to this round!. The day went of well; top 10 were dominated by some championship karter or the other with me coming in 11th. The fastest two were Rahul Sharan and Abha Mankar - Abha is incredibly talented, with just a couple of laps she put a lot of the boys to shame.. all the boys in fact. It was going to be interesting to watch her transition from kart to full blown racecar.

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-582298_447148775315326_2037949132_n.jpg

A month later, forty of us hit the Chennai track for the third and final round of selections to be done on the Etios itself. It was to be a 5 day affair - a mix of both practical and classroom training. A couple of us hit the tracks the night before and got to check out the cars for the very first time!

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-safety-car.jpg


The EMR cars are all standard production cars that have been stripped down and built up from scratch by Red Rooster Performance. The engine is a standard 2NR-FE 1.5l and breathes through a BMC DIA Airfilter and an exhaust from Toyota Racing Development(TRD). The roll cage was designed by RRP in Bangalore and was built by TRD for all the cars. Wheels are 15" Enkeis with 205 section slicks by MRF and TEIN Coilovers. Brakes are stock with upgraded brake pads. Toora seats and steering wheel, sabelt seat belts, a single fire extinguisher and everything else on a typical racecar. We also have an AiM MyChron data logger for laptimes and driver analysis.

Toyota got down 2 Japanese GT Drivers for the event who talked to us about racing lines, braking points etc etc. They then took drivers out for a couple of hotlaps to get familiar with the track, braking/turn-in points etc. Both drivers stressed on how important it was to not drive on the limit. Drive at 80% of your potential else you will make mistakes we were told. Great driving by the both of them, their steering inputs were ultra smooth, downshifts were perfectly rev-matched and braking was spot on. They didn't have the fastest time though, Diljith outpaced them by over 2 seconds! Clearly they weren't pushing the cars hard.

Over the next few days we all got over 40 Laps each in the cars. Diljith's time was the benchmark and Mr. Leela spent the entire day with the drivers giving us feedback on where we were losing time and corrections we had to make. He did this 10 hours straight for two whole days. I'm lost for words to describe his commitment to this program!

I got to drive the car finally on day 3, while I've driven the track twice before, both times were during track-days with street spec cars. I thought driving a the stock-engined Etios would be easier than my turbo Baleno but boy i was wrong. Even though the cars aren't fast that fast, i wasn't carrying enough speed through a lot of corners and ended up losing a lot of time. The fast right hander followed by the slow left toward the end of the track was the trickiest corner for me; it took a while before i had enough faith in the car to take it flat-out. Once i did though, times started dropping. I didn't post a spectacular time but I didn't destroy the car either and timing here didn't really matter. Ended up 15th and provisionally an EMR driver if I could find sponsors in time.

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-487022_458218700875000_639218614_n.jpg

Some pictures from the final selection camp

The car - completely lowered on TEIN Suspension

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-tb2.jpg

Yours truly taking the slow left before the bridge

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-tb3.jpg

One of the many cars that got damaged over the weekend. Lucky for us Etios parts aren't that expensive and we weren't changed for any damages.

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-tb4.jpg

14 Year old Ricky, caught some dust on the exit of the last corner and spun. He pulled the handbrake and manage to stop the car from hitting the tyres - great presence of mind from someone who has never driven a car before!

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-tb5.jpg

Last edited by binz : 14th December 2012 at 12:29.
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Old 14th December 2012, 14:22   #2
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Going live, looking forward to your live updates> Good luck from all of us @ team-bhp!
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Old 14th December 2012, 15:01   #3
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All set for the night race?
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Old 14th December 2012, 15:16   #4
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Really nice to read such things , aweosome . I can feel the adrenaline rush already . Keep it coming please . How does one enter such events ? Any advice ?
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Old 14th December 2012, 16:42   #5
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Leaving for scrutiny, practice and qualifying now. Will post up pictures when we're back.
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Old 22nd December 2012, 14:54   #6
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Default Re: My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series

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Leaving for scrutiny, practice and qualifying now. Will post up pictures when we're back.
Hey, any updates on the race?
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Old 25th December 2012, 12:39   #7
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Great work, binz. Looking forward to the rest
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Old 25th December 2012, 17:47   #8
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Hello everyone,thank for all the good wishes.I came in third at the Colombo Night Races! Sadly the entire post i wrote got erased when my laptop ran out of charge. I will post all the pictures and details soon. Really sorry for the delay..
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Old 27th December 2012, 20:10   #9
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Default Re: My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series

Lovely write up and must have been one awesome experience.
Please keep writing and adding more pictures
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Old 6th January 2013, 00:27   #10
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Originally Posted by binz View Post
Hello everyone,thank for all the good wishes.I came in third at the Colombo Night Races! Sadly the entire post i wrote got erased when my laptop ran out of charge. I will post all the pictures and details soon. Really sorry for the delay..
Congrats buddy! Looking forward for your report.
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Old 23rd March 2013, 01:38   #11
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Default Exhibition Race 1 : Chennai

The first exhibition race was set to kick off right after the 3 day training session. We were to have 3 races over the weekend out of which the 3rd race was to be televised live. Toyota was really pulling out all the stops here considering even the national championships have only just started to receive some coverage on television.
My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-emrcar.jpg

The schedule for the weekend was as follows, a single qualifying session to determine the lineup for the first race, the lineup for the second race would be a reverse grid of the top 8 finishers in race 1 and the third race would be the finishing order of race 2.
My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-lined-up.jpg

We were told to take it easy during the practice sessions, and I was pottering(considering we get 1 set of tyres) round the track only to be nudged by another driver who seemed to be taking the practice session as an opportunity to drive flat out.

Got back to the pits in a couple of minutes only to find out that the car was being driven by this man.
My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-akiraiida.jpg


Toyota had brought down Akira Iida , well known for his role as the chief test driver during the development of the Lexus LFA amongst other big things. Iida san was the center of attention of all cameras, but that was shortlived since Toyota had decided that having one racing superstar wasn't enough. They just had to get another - somebody who needs no introduction - The STIG

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-stig.jpg

Ben Collins walked straight upto Leela sir and in his rather witty manner said, 'Give me a quick one and take the ABS off'
My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-benincar.jpg
He took a couple of laps in the Etios and had the entire pitlane watching his run. At that point, it just felt unreal, almost every single one of us has grown up watching top gear; and seeing Ben Collins live, learning the track and then pushing the Emr car to its absolute limit was just ridiculously cool.

Managed to get an exclusive video of him warming up and then gunning it.



That done, it was time for qualifying. Getting into the car, the pressure started to build up. Having taken the car violently off track in the previous session didn't make this easy. Colin Mcrae's words 'When in doubt, flat out!' were in my head when the car started to bounce while taking C6 at full throttle. Three bounces and the tyres let go. The car snapped left towards the runoff area, flew in the air and landed on the left two wheels. I turned into the roll and just managed to avoid wrecking the car. Got out to assess the damages expecting the worst and found the rear bumper hanging on a single clip - not too bad i thought! Nevertheless, I was escorted to the pits in the medical car and dropped(to my embarrassment) right in front of the 25 pit girls who had just arrived.


Thus having more than explored the limits of the car, I played it safe in qualifying and ended up being 17th on the grid. Not good at all.

My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-formationlap.jpg
The 1st race was immediately after qualifying. Anyone who's been on a drag strip would know how important the launch is. With the engines being stock, overtaking isn't exactly easy and the easiest place to gain positions would be on the launch. Sitting at 17th on the grid, I really had nothing to lose so decide to launch the car at 5500rpm! Warmed up the tyres before lining up, and sat waiting for the red lights to go out. Shifted to 1st, pulled the handbrake, slipped the clutch and made 6 places (yes six) on the launch. The ten lap race got over within twenty minutes and I managed to cross the line in 10th. IJTC driver Diljith won, with Ahil Rabindra and Arjun in 2nd and 3rd.

A tenth place finish meant I would start race 2 in tenth. Since the launch was working really well for me, i continued with it and made 5 places on the start and ended up taking 4th place by the time the chequered flag dropped.

Pulled into the pits knowing that a podium place was within reach! Got a lot of encouragement at this point from my sponsors - Nandi Toyota, family and my two friends that turned up. It was time to floor it. Race 3 was going to be exciting, live and close!

Sitting 4th on the grid at the mmst meant that I would be on the clean side of the track. My launch was working just too well and I knew there was a place to take on the start. The lights go off, got a better start than Arjun, took the inside line and was second before the first corner! What a feeling! I now had Akhil Rabindra sitting on my tail and knowing what a good driver he is, he was really going to turn up the pressure. This race was hard, never realised how mentally exhausting it would be to hold 2nd place for 8 laps under pressure; But I was coming in second, and I couldn't have asked for more on my first race weekend. What an adrenaline rush! This video says it all:



Podium
My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-podium.jpg
My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-driver-linup.jpg

The day ended on a great note with Ben Collins giving us some great advice
My experience driving the Toyota ETIOS Motor Racing series-553734_10151117609142208_158723774_n.jpg

All pictures courtesy Toyota India.

Last edited by binz : 23rd March 2013 at 01:50.
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Old 23rd March 2013, 06:56   #12
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Congrats on coming in second there binz. Looks like a great initiative by Toyota to discover and train talent.

How do you find the car itself. Does it handle really well. How is the power band.

Looking forward to more updates from you.

Wow, Akira Iida and Ben Collins. You are lucky indeed. That is some serious driving talent to receive advice from
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Old 23rd March 2013, 22:54   #13
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How do you find the car itself. Does it handle really well. How is the power band.
The car is pretty much stock, the engine breathes through a BMC DIA intake kit and TRD Exhaust thats about it. Since the car is completely stripped, it feels extremely peppy to drive. Decent power from 3000rpm tilll the redline. The car handles extremely well, suspension is stiff and the tyres have plenty of grip. We had air conditioning too initially until it was removed because one of the drivers drove the entire race with the a/c on!
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Old 24th March 2013, 00:07   #14
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We had air conditioning too initially until it was removed because one of the drivers drove the entire race with the a/c on!
I would have assumed that an ac is extra weight and the power it saps would not be worth while. Thus, keeping it on the entire race would only be counter productive, bar it keeping you cooler.

Anyway, thanks for all the details about the car. Sounds like the lotus philosophy of lightweight rather than boosting power
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