Igor Sushko - Racing and Beyond, featuring Super GT and formula racing

Follow Igor Sushko's development as a professional race car driver at the world stage. In 2006, Igor raced in the first ever Nissan Skyline GT-R to compete in a professional racing series in North America. In 2007, Igor competed in 2 series in Japan: Super Taikyu with Nissan Fairlady Z and Formula Challenge Japan - a high-downforce light-weight formula car. In 2008, Igor continued development in the FCJ series and managed many podiums in Super Taikyu C-3 Nissan Fairlady Z for H.I.S. Travel and Okabe Jidosha. In 2010, he is with the legendary Team Taisan in Porsche 911 GT3R in Super GT GT300 in Japan. イゴール・スシュコのレーシング・ドライバーとしての生活についてのウェブサイトです。2006年はイゴールはアメリカ初、日産スカイライン・GT-Rを権威のあるワールド・チャレンジ・GT・シリーズで参戦しました。2007年はS耐久・C-3・ニスモNissanフェアレディZとFormula Challenge Japan(フォーミュラ・チャレンジ・ジャパン)のシリーズでレースしました。 2008年度はまたFCJでレースドライバーとしての上達をしながらスーパー耐久C-3でH.I.S.旅行と岡部自動車と共にNissan Zで多数の表彰台を掴みました。 2010年はSuper GT GT300でTeam Taisan Porsche 911 GT3Rでレースします。 応援よろしくお願いします!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2010 Super GT GT300 with Team Taisan Porsche 911 GT3R

The 2010 season is here!
2010 Super GT pit-walk

Taisan Posche 911 GT3R / Igor Sushko

Please check out my Facebook page where I make smaller and more common updates - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Igor-Sushko . This is also the place to interact with other motorsports enthusiasts!

This year I am with the legendary Team Taisan is Super GT GT300. Since the inception of the series in 1994, Taisan has taken more championships than any other team in history, having even fielded cars like Porsche 962 and Ferrari F40.

This year's car is Taisan Porsche 911 GT3R - arguably the most sophisticated and advanced 911 in the world.
Although the team finished 11th in points last year, we're hoping to deliver at least one win this year.
The field is very deep this year with strong competition. Over the first two races of the season, the time margins in qualifying have been even tighter than in recent years. Nissan Z is strong, of course last year's champion Bandoh Lexus IS is up there, Jim Gainer Ferrari is quick. The Lamborghini Gallardo team seems to have figured out their mechanical troubles of years past. Toyota Corrola Axio, in its 2nd year of competition, appears to have figured out the setup quirks to go consistently fast. The Vemac 408R is absurdly fast but has had some mechanical problems the first two races, but it is a car to watch for. The drivers field is full of former GT500 aces and Formula Nippon/F3000 and IRL veterans.

Some of the car types in GT300 -

Taisan Porsche 911 GT3R (yours truly)
Taisan Posche 911 GT3R / Igor Sushko
Lexus IS350 (driven by Manabu Orido - my good friend and mentor, last year's champion)
Super GT GT300
Mazda RX7 (driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi)
Super GT GT300
Lamborghini Gallardo
Super GT GT300
Porsche Boxter GT
Super GT GT300
Nissan 350Z
Super GT GT300
Toyota Corolla Axio GT
Super GT GT300
ARTA Garaiya
Super GT GT300
Porsche 911 GT3RSR
Super GT GT300
Vemac RD408R
Super GT GT300
Shiden (Daytona Prototype-based)
Super GT GT300
Subaru Legacy
Super GT GT300
Aston Martin Vantage GT2
Super GT GT300
Ferrari F430
Super GT GT300

To contrast, there are 3 car types in GT500 - Nissan GT-R, Honda HSV, and Lexus SC
Nissan GT-R
Super GT GT500 Nissan GT-R
Lexus SC
Super GT GT500 Lexus SC
Honda HSV
Super GT GT500 Honda HSV

Suzuka Circuit
Suzuka Circuit

The first race was in Suzuka, where we finished 11th, just shy of points, and just recently we raced in Okayama. Both races have been exciting from the spectators' point of view with hot battles and incredible crashes, but we're still a little short on getting the setup right, with both drivers racing with this team for the first time. Although this car is a Porsche 911 by name, many similarities end there. The car has been developed by Taisan from the ground up in 2008, with heavy focus on aerodynamics and complete overhaul of suspension geometry and weight balance/center of gravity. For this, based on how the Super GT rules are structured and fast cars are 'settled back to earth,' compared to FIA GT-spec Porsche 911s running in the series, our car is handicapped by 100kg (220lbs) in weight and a smaller restrictor on the engine intake (meaning less power).

Check out the qualifying for Rd.1 Suzuka:

I was the starting driver for both of the races and we made up lots of positions in the start of the race in both cases (14th to 7th in Suzuka and 15th to 9th in Okayama), but then the falloff on the grip balance between front and rear progressively got worse (front in Suzuka and rear in Okayama) with an end result of loss of positions. It seems we slightly overcompensated for the problem in Rd.1 and went too far for Rd.2 in the setup direction. The car is so rigid and well built that the slightest change in ride-height - 1mm, changes the balance of the car, but with the experience from these 2 races I think we are in a good position to contest Rd. 3 Fuji next month.

Okayama International Circuit
Okayama International Circuit

My co-driver this year is Masayuki Ueda, a veteran driver from Osaka with over 15 years of racing experience. The last few years he was with a Ferrari team.

This is going to be an exciting year, and we have 6 more points rounds to go and the season finale exhibition will be at Fuji when we race along with Formula Nippon. The fastest GT car race and one of the fastest formula series in the world all in one weekend is sure to a great spectacle!

2010 Super GT Schedule:
Round / Circuit / Date

1 Suzuka Circuit
March 21
Suzuka Circuit

2 Okayama International Circuit
April 4
Okayama International Circuit

3 Fuji Speedway
May 2
Fuji Speedway

4 Sepang International Circuit
June 20
Sepang International Circuit

5 Sportsland SUGO
July 25
Sportsland Sugo

6 Suzuka Circuit
August 22
Suzuka Circuit

7 Fuji Speedway
September 12
Fuji Speedway

8 Twin Ring Motegi
October 24
Twin Ring Motegi

9 Fuji Speedway
November 14

If anyone has a chance to attend the race please let me know!

Super GT - English Website

All photos by Yasuhiro Tetsutani unless otherwise noted.

Check out the photo gallery for more photos of the events here:

New Sponsors for 2010
I am fortunate to have the support of these two entities in 2010:

BRM Watches - A French luxury watch brand with heavy alignment with motorsports. Mine is a special-edition SP model made for the F1 Singapore GP! BRM has a vast lineup of models and some allow for customization: you can select the case, the finish, the needles, the buttons, and the face, among other things to make a watch that is uniquely you.

Shade Hotel - the premiere luxury boutique hotel in Manhattan Beach, located 10 minutes south of Los Angeles Airport right on the coast. This is my hotel of choice for my stays in Los Angeles and I highly recommend it! Staying at this hotel is an experience in itself. You can use my last name 'sushko' as a promotion code for a discounted rate and special treatment!

BRM Watches on #26 Taisan Posche
Shade Hotel on #26 Taisan Posche

I am currently actively looking for a fashion design company and an alcoholic beverage company to integrate into my motorsports business structure. If you are involved in either of these industries please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss ways that I help you achieve your marketing and sales objectives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Annual Alfra Romeo Orque Advan Racing School at Fuji Speedway

This year Kasuya-san again invited me to instruct at the racing school he organizes every year at Fuji Speedway. Orque is a tuner for Italian cars, with primary focus on Alfa Romeos. Kasuya-san has been running the company for several years. Prior to that, he was a factory Toyota TOM'S and NISMO driver in various series including JGTC and Le Mans.

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

We started with basic classroom instruction and immediately followed by hands-on exercises - slalom and braking. Ability to consistently brake at the tires' limit is as basic as it gets and is of course the most important to be able to begin to drive a car at its quickest.

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

The students had a lot of sessions throughout the day to drive on the short course at Fuji Speedway, and Kasuya-san and I were available to jump into their own cars and have them experience the proper driving techniques and what they feel like directly from the passenger seat. We had many drivers who had zero prior track driving experience, but just like last year, every single student made huge leaps forward in his driving ability by the end of the day. The repetition of driving the student in their own car and then having the student drive it right after is so effective it's astounding. After each outing I would explain what I was doing and why, to specifically accommodate that car's characteristics.

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

One of the drivers who got his first-ever experience on a race track was in his fifties, but by the end of the day, I would have never guessed that. And of course the joy on everyone's face was just contagious.

It's never too late to start ;-)

Orque Driving School 2009 at Fuji Speedway

Rd. 9 Super GT - Motegi Race

After a Saturday plagued with mechanical problems, we were hoping for a good Sunday.

In the morning warm-up session we confirmed that the clutch issue was resolved, but at the end, a rear brake caliper began to leak fluid and lose pressure.

The team did their best to fix the problem before the race.

I started the race but almost immediately the car began to lose pedal pressure and the rear was getting upset and squirmy under heave brakes.
I had to pit after a few laps. The team fixed the caliper issue in about 30 minutes and let Ito out near the end of the race to get some laps in and check the car.

All in all, a disappointing weekend after a mid-week test that gave everyone a lot of promise.

Once the team can get the mechanical issues sorted I think the car could show solid competition next year.

This officially ends my 2009 racing season.
I am already thinking about 2010 and am in touch with several top-level GT300 teams.
The battle for next season begins on the day following the season finale Sunday!

I am also beginning to learn more about opportunities in the United States. If you hear of anything interesting, do let me know!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Super GT Qualifying

Porsche Boxter - Super GT GT300

The Wed/Thurs test went great with the car - we tried out a combination of two different Yokohama compounds and got the car to a good balance with a competitive time.

Porsche Boxter - Super GT GT300

Friday was a roll-in day to the track as we changed pits and got ready for the weekend.

For Saturday, we had 1 hour 45 minute free practice session in the morning followed by combined qualifying at noon (both drivers pass the minimum time) and then knockdown Q1 (10 mins), Q2 (7 mins), and Q3 (7 mins) sessions.

For morning practice, the plan was to test out two softer compounds to see if they would last the race duration and to figure out the qualifying setup/tires.

Unfortunately, a clutch problem allowed me only 2 laps in the morning practice. Within the two laps I knew the direction in which to take the setup to work with the softer tires, and we proceeded with those changes.

Porsche Boxter - Super GT GT300

Then qualifying came, and at this point we knew that the clutch was still going to be a problem due to some circumstances. We just had to muscle through it. I posted a time in 1 lap and got my partner, Ito, in the car and he had struggle with a slipping clutch but did pass the standard time threshold.

There was enough time until Q1 to get the drivetrain cooled down again and go for the attack, and we knew that Q2 would not be possible as it was right after Q1 with not enough time to allow the car to cool.

The objective was simply to get to the top 16 out of 22 to pass Q1 and start the race in 16th.

But before Q1, the race officials came by to check the car's compliance for the air restrictor specified for this car in the rules. This was rather unusual timing for such a check, but we had to comply. The mechanics did their best to disassemble the air-box in time to get to the very deep-in-the-car air restrictor. It took them about 35 minutes to get it out. But at that point, we only had 15 minutes to the start of Q1 (10 minute long session). I barely got out of the garage with 2 minutes and 30 seconds to go, which meant I only had one lap for the attack.

I warmed up the tires as best as I could, but the Boxter being a mid-engine car, the fronts have always taken at least 2 laps to get up to operating temp during our tests.

With just one warm up lap, it was not enough, and as I went into the brake zone at turn one I had a strong front lock up that cost me time, and as the tires continued to gain temperature, the grip was getting better throughout the lap, but the lap time was just not enough to get us in the top 16 to continue into Q2. We needed at least 3 laps to post a competitive time.

Being forced to qualify on cold tires is rough!

Hopefully the clutch engagement problem will be solved by tomorrow morning's practice session so we can at least do a little bit of setup tweaking before the race.

The race should be 48 laps (GT500 is 53 laps), so it's pretty short, so the only good chance we have of finishing significantly higher than our start position will be a no-tire-change strategy.

I will start the race with a full tank and go the maximum allowed 2/3 distance (32) laps and pass the car on to Ito, minimizing our refuel time to our practiced 16 second driver-change time. With that, we will hopefully make up around 30 seconds on most other teams that do plan to change tires. Our tire compound will be harder than the rest, but if I can keep the avg race lap time to about 1 second below the top runners we still have a chance.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Getting ready for Super GT Motegi

#4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter

I will be competing in the GT300 #4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter in the season finale for Super GT at Motegi on November 7/8. I will be developing the car for use with Yokohama tires as this car has been competing with Kumho for the last few years. It was raced just once this year at Suzuka as a shakedown and I was not there, but we have high hopes for its performance at Motegi.

Within the rules, the Porsche Boxter is a lower downforce / higher top-speed package, which should be advantageous for a track like Motegi - with many long straights and lots of stop-and-go corners.

The primary purpose of our testing on Wed/Thurs will be to tune the suspension to match the new Yokohama tires and maximize braking efficiency despite its short wheelbase. I have a few ideas so far.

I recently went to the Lian factory to get fitted in the seat and get a little familiar with the car.
#4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter
#4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter
Igor Sushko with #4 Bomex Lian Porsche Boxter

Check out the entry list for 2009 Motegi Super GT race.

If you happen to attend the race please do stop by!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

USAC Sprint Car test - Oval racing?!

Through my good friend Bruce Ashmore, a world-class racecar designer/engineer currently working out of Indianapolis, I had the good fortune of getting introduced to Ken Pierson.

Ken has been racing on ovals as a team owner for over 30 years and has - wait for it - 139 main event victories and 5 championships. One of the cars he races is a USAC Sprint Car. This car boasts an enormous V8 engine generating 750hp and weighs in at only 550kg (1300lbs). The end-result? Acceleration that is FASTER than Formula One! The rear tires are just ridiculously wide in an attempt to maximize traction. More on that attempt later....

Here's how they look when they fly by -

Pierson Racing Bos Sheet Metal USAC Sprint Car

I have never before driven on an oval, with the closest thing being the Motegi exhibition race in an N1 endurance Nissan 350Z set-up for road-racing. This fun event took place on the Motegi oval, with chicanes built in at the end of each straight, and in the RAIN...

So I prepared as well as I could, talking to drivers and engineers with experience with this kind of car.

All in all, I got about 50-60 laps on the 1/4 mile oval - where one lap is 12~13 seconds. Driving this monster is something else. I have never experienced the rush of acceleration that this car can deliver.

The sound is a little off in the video unfortunately.

Let me first describe the machine.
No clutch or flywheel, one-speed transmission, solid-rear-axle (no differential), staggered left and right tires, seating position is very upright with the driver almost on top of the steering wheel that is closer to being parallel to the ground than at the usual 90-degrees in road course cars.

The end result? Absolutely the biggest rush I have ever felt! Each straight was probably just a little over 100 yards, since the entire oval was only 1/4 mile. But, the due to the power delivery of this engine, there is no point on the track where you could actually put all of that torque down without lighting up the tires - including at the end of the straight going around 100mph.
Think about it - coming out of the corner, concrete everywhere, adding in the throttle and the car just bolts forward, jerking you back, but you can only continue to add throttle at a pace to where even after going around 100mph, the car is still traction limited. I've definitely spun those rear tires plenty of times in an attempt to inch toward that 100% throttle. NOT POSSIBLE on a track this short!

My thanks go to Scott Pierovich and Kevin Urton for helping me understand the car and how to drive it. Scott raced in the Sprint Car that weekend and finished in 3rd place on the podium. Kevin, now retired, boasts an incredible career of having won over 100 races both of asphalt and dirt.

Here's a video of the Saturday night rolling start for the USAC Sprint Car race:

I continued to get faster every session I went out as I got more comfortable with the car, and now I cannot wait to get in it again! I've had a chance to think over all of the dynamics of the car.
One of the biggest things that did not click initially - the left-right stagger. The fact that the circumference of the tires is smaller on the left side of course means that the neutral state of the car is turning left, not going straight. This makes the cornering easier, but the disconnect I had was how that affects the available traction - both for braking and acceleration. Normally, in a car that is symmetrical, maximum brake/acceleration traction is available when the car is pointing straight with no steering input. In a staggered car however, the car's neutral state with maximum longitudinal traction is actually when the car is turning at that exact angle when the steering wheel is straight - which occurs twice during the corner - as the steering wheel is released from essentially turning right during the straight, and then when it is getting unwound but the car is still turning at the exit.
I was just throwing the car into the corner to where I was not losing any time at the entry and the middle, but I was still down by several hundred engine revs compared to Scott at the end of each straight - because of my conservative initial throttle application while the car is still turning, coming out of the corner. THAT is when the car has maximum traction for acceleration! Well.. that and I did not want to stick Ken's car into the wall on my first-ever drive on an oval. Probably would have left a sour taste for everyone.

Ken Pierson and Pierson Racing Bos Sheet Metal USAC Sprint Car

I am hoping that next up is another test in the Sprint Car, with Ken's blessings, at Irwindale 1/2 mile track in November.

Where is all of this going? Ken Pierson and Bruce Ashmore are involved with the Silver Crown series and the next-generation Gold Crown - a new series slated to debut in 2011. The Silver Crown car is very similar to the Sprint Car, but with an extended wheelbase to accommodate a larger fuel tank for longer races, and another 100hp, just for kicks.

I have had the most fun pressing on the throttle in this monster and just waiting for it launch off into space at every straight. Thank you Ken!
Ovals - here I come.

Visit Bos Sheet Metal for any A/C and heating needs in the Sacramento area!

Visit Ashmore Design for information on Bruce Ashmore and the Gold Crown Series.

The Gold Crown Concept