Always Plan For The Unexpected
The game plan was simple: head out to Tsukuba Circuit to cover the final RevSpeed time attack gathering of the year.

Having shot the event twice already, I was pretty confident that things would go rather smoothly, even if Dino had asked me to cover it at the last minute thanks to persistent cold that had him out of commission. In the cover of darkness, I loaded up my ER34 Skyline and started my 90km journey north from Tokyo. However, the one variable I forgot to factor in the night before was the weather, and by the time I made it to the front gates of Tsukuba Circuit the light drizzle that I had encountered all the way up from Japan’s capital city had became a steady shower.

But no matter, it was still early in the morning and the first group of the day hadn’t been on track yet. Perhaps the rain would let up…

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With that thought in mind, a quick stroll through the paddock was in order. I began visualizing what kind of shots I’d take in order to put a fresh spin on my event coverage.

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However, it quickly became apparent that the bad weather had set in. In fact, it started to rain even harder.

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Fortunately I had my back-up umbrella in the car, but trying to hold that and shoot at same time was quite cumbersome.

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I wasn’t jealous in the least bit.

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It did mean that some images (well, more than I would like to admit) came out looking like this.
The Battle In The Rain

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A quick glance at my drenched watch revealed it was about time for the first group to head out. Meanwhile, the rain continued to fall.

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Obviously no records were going to be broken on this day, so let’s just throw the lap times out the window. Truth be told, I was surprised the drivers and teams pushed as hard as they did considering the atrocious conditions.

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I understand track days can be expensive, and to take the time out of your schedule for such an important event means you want to make the best of your situation, but after attacking the Tsukuba 2000 with Blake back in October, in the dry, let’s just say my respect for those that braved this meet grew exponentially.

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At almost every corner you’d see horrendous under and oversteer as the drivers tried to improve their times. The driver of this BNR32 GT-R found himself a few centimeters away from disaster as he slid off-track attempting to go around the final corner at speed.

You’re probably already familiar with this Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, built by Escort Drag Racing Service and driven by Fire Ando. Dino has covered it extensively in the past, and it was without a shadow of a doubt the most capable car at the event.

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Wanting to maximize their chances, the team waited till the rain lightened up to take to the track. This is the only picture I could get on the car’s first lap as I was dialing in my camera/umbrella setting, but I was expecting the Evo to make a few laps around the track. The “haiya-na,” which roughly translates as ‘wow, he’s going fast’ that was blaring over the loud speakers had me wondering what kind of times Ando-san would post in the next few laps. Then I heard a loud bang. The Evo coasted for a little bit, before the crew pushed the car into the paddock and that was that.

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As I stated before, there definitely weren’t going to be any new records set due to the abysmal weather, but if the drivers were going to go out and give it their best, then I figured it was only right to try and withstand the weather as long as possible too.

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Until next year, because fourth time’s a charm, right?

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography

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