IPS win slips out of Terakawa’s grasp due to overzealousness
In Saturday’s race, Terakawa, driving the No. 55 Mazda “Jinba Ittai” (“unity of rider and horse”) Driving Academy, started from 3rd on the grid behind Tatsuo Yamaguchi and Hideki Nagai. From the beginning of the race, Terakawa set a pace that was faster than the times of Yamaguchi, who was leading the race, and was ready to make a move on Nagai from the rear, and then on lap 8, Nagai, who could withstand the pressure, went off course at Coca-Cola Corner. Terakawa, who had moved up to 2nd place, then set his sights on Yamaguchi and tried to further cut down his lap times, but he unexpectedly overshot at Dunlop Corner on lap 9. He returned to the track in 3rd place, was caught up by Ayaka Imahashi on the last lap, but managed to shake her off to finish 3rd. Terakawa said, “I’m competing in the Expert Class this year, and the tension and pressure are completely different from the Gentleman Class. I’m trying to keep my composure at all times, but I think the challenge for this race is to maintain a strong mental attitude. In today’s race, I was in second place when my brakes failed at Dunlop Corner and I overshot. In fact, although I was running free, I hit the outside curb at Advan corner, which caused a problem with the brakes. If I had kept my cool, I would have found a way to overcome it.”
In the second round held on the second day, the sky was cloudy with light rain falling occasionally. “Only the heavens knew which way it will turn, but I guess this is when our mental strength is tested,” said Terakawa. The time for tire choice ran out while the cars were lined up on the starting grid, and each car started on slick tires. Terakawa, who had started second on the grid, relinquished his position to Nagai soon after but on the second lap, Yamaguchi, who was leading the race, spun out on his own at the first corner, leaving Terakawa in a one-on-one battle with Nagai. However, on the same lap, Nagai kicked the curb at Turn 13 and was knocked off track. Terakawa took advantage of this to take the lead and began to pull away from Nagai. On the fifth lap, Terakawa was running alone with a gap of just over four seconds, but when the yellow flag came out shortly after, the gap closed and Nagai, who had recovered well, closed in on him. Somehow, Terakawa managed to shake off Nagai and continued to make strong laps, aiming for his first win in the Expert Class. However, he spun off on the first corner of the last lap, just short of the checkered flag. He crossed the finish line in 5th place. When Terakawa returned to the pits, he was sat in the car for a time as if he had frozen.
Terakawa said, “I was completely defeated this time. Being in the expert class from this year, I was honestly aiming for the overall win. Saturday’s qualifying was my first drive since the last round of the series last year, so I decided to calm down and get myself back on track in the first round. I was not able to get back to the pace I had hoped for, but the 3rd place podium finish calmed me down somewhat mentally.”
“For the second round, we aimed for the overall win and had our car set up much better. In Round 2, as usual, I had a slow start, but I kept my composure. On the second lap, I took advantage of a mistake by the car in front and took the lead. I thought this would be a comfortable situation, but from here on, I had to fight against intense pressure and anxiety. It was the first time for me to keep the lead in a race. Feeling my mental and physical strength draining away, I told myself that I would take on the challenge until the final lap.”
“Then, on the final lap, I think I thought if I could just defend one more lap, I’d take the win. I entered the first corner with half-hearted braking. The rear tire, which had lost grip due to the high speed, could not take it and slid. Normally, I would have given up and let the car go, but for some reason, I tried to hold the line, and as a result, I couldn’t hold on and spun.It was all my fault for being lax and not being prepared to take on the challenge with confidence. I’m really sorry and frustrated that I couldn’t live up to the expectations of the team who supported me with all their heart and the Sekiguchi who gave me accurate advice. I will use this frustration to get better results next time.”
Text by MZRacing, Photos by IPS official