Well, it might have been a while since my last journal post, but it’s certainly not because I haven’t had anything to write about! In fact, it’s been an incredible year, summed up by the fact I’ve been on the podium in every race I have contested so far!
I feel like I have really developed and grown as an all-round driver this year, thoroughly enjoying the challenge of running in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship. I’ve learned so much from transitioning and adapting to the differences from last year’s GT car. The formula cars have much more grip and downforce, and a lot less technical assistance too, which really affects the braking zones, so it’s been fun finding and pushing my limits to consistently bring home the best results.
Talking of adapting to new situations, I was delighted to have the opportunity to make my debut in the FRD LMP3 China Endurance series last week, driving alongside James Winslow in the Craft-Bamboo Racing Ligier. It was a fantastic experience, for so many reasons. To claim such a dominant victory in my first ever P3 race was absolutely awesome. But to help the team to their first win of this LMP3 season, and James to his first since a huge, career threatening accident at the beginning of the year, just made it even better. I’d met James during my time racing in AsiaCup, when he was a driver coach, so to be able to claim such a significant win together as teammates four years on, was just brilliant.
James and I connected so well in and out of the car. We were both totally calm and focused before and during the race of course, but afterwards it was all rather overwhelming! Sitting in the driver’s room together, talking through how special it all was got quite emotional to be honest. Definitely a very happy and special moment for us both.
Another added extra from the weekend for me was being able to work with Kogi, my mechanic from AsiaCup and Formula Masters, again. Back then we developed our own way of communicating through the cars, as he didn’t speak English. It seemed to work though as we still had a lot of successes. It was great to finally be able to talk with him properly, as well as work with him again and continue our success together!
I absolutely loved driving the LMP3 car and I’m keen to do more in the future. It’s quite different from the P2 car I drove earlier in the season. The P3 car really liked straight braking and setting up for the exit, going in big on the brake zones. It had similar capabilities to the formula car, because of the corner speeds, but technique wise it had more GT elements. I adapted quickly to the style, but it’s quite a unique car that I’d really like to continue learning about and competing in.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living over in Japan for two years. It really does feel like home now. The people are amazing, and the culture is so diverse. Where I live, I have a big park with a shrine on one side, and on the other is Tokyo’s city centre. That just epitomizes the huge contrast that makes Japan so fascinating, and why I love living here. When my Dad visited recently, we went out to Kyoto, which is kind of the ‘Zen’ capital of Japan, with so many temples, castle ruins and significant cultural areas. We visited Nijo Castle which has been a residence of the Tokugawa shogunate, and an imperial palace, before being made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. It was a beautiful place, and again highlights the amazing culture and diversity in Japan.
I’m continuing to learn Japanese, which has been challenging but very rewarding too! I’m getting to conversational level, and can talk to fans now, which I love. But I still want to get to a stronger level where I can debrief a full race with my engineers. Hopefully I can reach that by next year, so watch this space!
The car culture here in Japan is just incredible too. It’s so pure, having so many of its own manufacturers, and a totally unique style. There are a couple of places in Tokyo and Yokohama, that are meet up spots, especially on weekends, where people bring their cars. Again, the diversity is huge. A lot of different groups turn up, from European Sports Cars to the JDM tuning cars, with everything in between, right up to a group that have neon on every part of the car possible! There’s always some interesting stuff, and it’s awesome to be part of that car community. I’ll definitely be looking to get more involved when I get myself a car, hopefully next year.
Right now, though, I’m focusing on finishing the season on a strong note and putting myself in the best place to make the right step in my Japanese career next season. Keep posted across my website and social media for all the latest news and updates, and also watch out for some new video uploads too!
Here’s to driving the future.