Sodegaura Forest Raceway

Author: mirai  //  Category: All Posts, Cars and Racing, Life in general, Rants and Raves

Last Saturday, I went to Sodegaura Forest Raceway, a brand new road course in Chiba prefecture to attend the Honda TwinCam sponsored track event.   Despite this even being sponsored by Honda TwinCam and also being told by the event coordinator that it’s an All Honda even and that no other model cars will be allowed, I did see a Lancer Evo VI as well as a Nissan Silvia.   All of the other cars were either a new and old Civic R, or the new and old Integra R.

Sodegaura Forest Raceway was just completed last month, so everyone who attended had never raced here before.  And since it is a brand new circuit, there were no direction signs leading up to the course, or even a sgin at the front entrance.   Additionally, the road that goes from the entrance to the paddock area was still unpaved.  Hardly a good thing for race cars running track tires.  My sense of direction is absolutely hopeless, so I wound up missing the registration and the car inspection, and barely made it on-time for the driver’s meeting (an absolute requirement for being able to run). Luckily, the race officials were pretty laid back so, me being late didn’t seem to be such a big deal.

Afterwards, I gave my paperwork to the receptionist and had my car inspected by the mechanic.  By the way, I had already been marked as a no show on the attendance list.

It was my first time at this course and as luck would have it, it rained.  I was originally going to use track tires (which have fewer grooves to put more surface are to the road), but luckily I stuck with the RE-01R radial tires.  Had I used track tires, it would have probably been impossible to run that day due to the rain.

By the afternoon, what had been light sprinkles turned to substantial rain, and it became a quite an eventful heat for the class A group, who ran first.  i was too busy preparing for my run to see what had actually transpired, but I could see that the field had slowed down to a crawl, and there was even a red flag ( a complete halt of the run).  Since the class A group was comprised of novice drivers and first timers, I suspected that there were probably some spin outs and over runs.

I was in the class B group which was up next.  It seemed that there were a lot of New Civic Type R’s in my class for some reason.  Since the earlier group didn’t run so much due to the troubles,  the track didn’t have the opportunity to dry out, making it difficult to get around the corners, and causing a lot of wheel spin in the straights.  But after a while, I was able to adjust to the conditions pretty quickly and was able to figure out a method to get around the course quickly in the wets.  Surprisingly, I was pretty good in the wet.  There was a point when I loss some traction and did sort of a 4 wheel drift, but I didn’t spin out or over run even once.  And to add to that, the people who were trying to keep up with me often wound up facing the opposite direction or in the gravel.   It just goes to show that you need to know what you’re doing to run in the wets, and it was very apparent that some people didn’t.  But luckily there were no major accidents, or red flags during either of my heats.

My impressions:  Sodegaura Raceway is a pretty good course.  Its not too difficult, and it wasn’t too ridiculously easy and boring.  It had enough challenge in it to keep my interest.  I would describe it as a cross between Tsukuba Circuit and Twin Ring Motegi.  On the not so good side, the race line was bit hard to read, and the facilities looked a bit cheap and unfinished.  I was too bad that it rained, but I will definitely be back to do it again.

This is a video of me trying to battle a white Civic Type R, while fending off a red Integra Type R behind me.  After the run, I found out from the Civic driver that he was driving at the threshold of almost losing traction and spinning out.  Like-wise I was experiencing the same thing, so I couldn’t over take him, although I came close a couple of times.

Pictures from the event: