Ever since Superlap Australia announced the new World Time Attack Challenge back in 2010 I’ve been meaning to jump on plane at jet across the Tasman Sea to catch the action first hand. For one reason or another I never quite made it to either of the first events, but with some official Speedhunting needed to be taken care of, this year all of the stars aligned. It’s been a couple of days since I arrived back in Auckland from my whirlwind trip to Sydney, and time to kick on with some more detailed coverage of the event that was Yokohama 2012 WTAC.
For the fastest cars in attendance – the subject of this post – there’s was plenty of rubber melted for the cause over the two-day long event.
I have to hand to it the organizing team behind the event. Dreaming up the idea to run the World Time Attack Challenge is one thing, but getting some of the most respected names in the business to ship their cars (and themselves) half way around the planet, is quite an achievement.
Over the past three years it’s certainly helped in raising the game as evidenced by this year’s overall winner and new WTAC record-setter: the Australian-built Nemo Racing Lancer Evolution.
Of course, a “world” time attack event wouldn’t truly be so without a contingent of teams from the country where the motor sport first originated. RE-Amemiya’s ‘Hurricane’ RX-7 is Super GT-inspired creation that won the top tuner car prize at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Salon, but before WTAC 2012 was yet to turn a wheel in proper competition.
But with than 700hp on tap from its GReddy T88-34D equipped 20B engine, a whole bunch of parts borrowed from RE-Amemiya’s Super GT program, and the experienced Nobuteru Taniguchi lined up for the drive, it certainly had the ‘on paper’ specification to get the job done.
And in that respect so to did the amazing carbon fiber bodied Scorch Racing Nissan Silvia S15, which was back in Australia for WTAC for the second time. Under Suzuki, it’s owner/driver, was eager to put the mechanical gremlins that hampered what was still an impressive performance at the 2011 event behind him.
For the Pan Speed team out of Saitama, Tokyo, it was their third time competing at Eastern Creek. But instead of bringing their trademark FD3S RX-7, the rotary specialist shipped its naturally-aspirated, peripheral-ported, 20B Mazda RX-8 instead. In the very low-mounted hot seat was famed Super GT driver and Best Motoring presenter, Naoki Hattori.
I’ve been a big fan of Top Fuel’s work ever since I got to drive one of its manic turbocharged EK9 Civic Type Rs many years ago, so it was excited to check out its turbocharged Zero-1000 Honda S2000 in the flesh. Team Top Fuel with Voltex mechanics spent most of the test day underneath the on the car working on the driveline, and changing suspension in the hope to tame the handling…
…But even after the tweaks, and with Taniguchi strapped tightly into the driver’s seat, it still looked like a handful and a half on some parts of the high speed Eastern Creek circuit. I guess on-edge handling is something to be expected with 700hp, 1010kg and rear-wheel-drive, though, right?
Another entry with a Japanese connection came with ATTKD/Just Jap Nissan GT-R. A regular street class time attack competitor in Japan, the R35 – driven by Mitsuhiro Kinoshita – features a dry carbon bonnet, fenders, doors, trunk lid and rear wing…
…Not to mention a fairly serious engine set up under the hood. The factory VR38DETT has been stroked to 4.1L and outfitted with an HKS GT800 (read: 800hp) kit.
Of all the Japanese teams lined up to do battle at Sydney Motorsport Park it was WTAC’s 2010 and 2011 winner and Tsukuba legend that most people were interested to see – especially so being its first time out wearing a fresh orange and red color scheme over a all-new C-West aero package. In the world of time attack racing, Cyber Evo certainly needs no introduction.
Initially Cyber Engineering had planned to retire the car and therefore not compete at this year’s event, but one can only assume that the threat to its title being brought about by Nemo Racing was enough of a catalyst for Masamichi Takizawa to knuckle down and concentrate of further developing the proven Cyber Evo package.
It’s a recipe for success that many other time attack have followed – and in some cases – with similarly outstanding results. The Tilton Interiors Lancer Evo IX is fire-breathing proof. The Australian built machine features a Cosworth-spec 4G63 engine outputting over 800hp mated to a Holinger six-speed sequential gearbox and tips the scales at around 1150kg. Aero is by Voltex.
To say that Garth Walden drove the Lancer at anything less than ten tenths over the weekend would be selling his performance short, because I’m not sure anyone could have pushed the silver, black and orange machine any harder. In fact I’m sure of it! The Tilton team, which placed fourth overall in 2011, was duly rewarded for their efforts with a staggering 1:27.1820 lap and second place on the podium behind Nemo.
Another car taking a leaf out of the Cyber Evo’s book was the sole UK entry: a stunning Lancer Evolution IX by Redbrick Racing.
Just one part of a very serious, state-of-the-art build, the immaculate engine bay is home Tracktive-built 2.2L 4G63 stroker motor stuffed full of the good gear from Cosworth and breathing through a large Garrett GT42 turbocharger.
There were a few more notable Lancers in the Pro class ranks, like the wild-looking Pulse Racing entry which claimed ninth spot overall running a 1:30.8640 lap…
…Through to the Notaras Motorsport Evo IX which finished 10th overall with a 1:32.4470…
…And the Team RevolutioNZ Evo VIII, which placed 10th in class and 11th overall with a 1:33.4118.
And I definitely can’t not mention Steve Glenney’s performance in James Willard’s JHH Racing-sponsored ‘Dominator’ machine. Not only did the Evolution VI run 1:30.7260 to claim sixth spot overall, but it did it from the Open class – which it won outright by some margin.
In between on-track sessions I lugged my gear back to the pits where there was always something going on. For most competitors, keeping an eye on the timing – which streamed live over the WTAC website – was a high priority.
As cars came into the pits – in this instance the potent MCA Suspension Silvia S13 during practice…
….Others were ready to make their way out. Mark Berry’s 600whp, ADVAN/Hi Octane Racing Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R is one of Australia’s oldest purpose-built time attack cars and has been in a constant state of development over the past few years. The sinister-looking creation finished up sixth overall with a best lap of 1:30.7732.
The pits were also the place where you were sure to run into a few familiar faces, in this case two of Japan’s most revered Mazda rotary tuners: Hidekazu Koseki from Scoot Sports, and Isami Amemiya of RE-Amemiya.
As Warren Luff had set the pace early on in the event blasting Nemo around the track to 1:25.7400 flying lap everyone was poised to see what WTAC’s two time defending champion could come back with. Getting to the track had been the first issue for the team after mechanical woes discovered during last minute tuning in Sydney, reputedly necessitated the fitting of a borrowed engine. The team worked around the clock for two days straight and finally arrived at Eastern Creek at 4.00pm on Friday afternoon.
That meant there would be no testing and just four, 15 minutes sessions on Saturday for Eiji ‘Tarzan’ Yamada to pull a dream lap out of the bag.
But it wasn’t to be. After a few testing laps during the morning sessions, Cyber Evo hit the track looking ready to run a clean lap, only for its engine to blow its rear main seal and leak oil, which then started a small under hood fire. Any chances of a comeback were all but over.
While first and seconds spots were pretty much spoken for the battle for third boiled down to the very last session. Going into the final quarter-of-an-hour Pro class stint Under Suzuki’s Scorch Racing Silvia held the final podium position, but Earl Bamber in the MCA Suspension S13 was a man on a mission..
It was a tense few moments in the Scorch/Pan Speed pit garage…
But ultimately, Bamber was cool under pressure, pulling a clean 1:27.8080 lap out of the bag to better Suzuki’s time by half a second and claim a trophy.
With his Hurricane RX-7 in the capable hands of Taniguchi, Amemiya looked on…
…As the Super GT driver and ex-D1 champ pointed it around the circuit for one final time looking to crack the 1:30 barrier.
A 1:29.8020 lap was the reward.
That left the RE-Amemiya machine sixth behind the Top Fuel/Voltex Honda in fifth and Suzuki’s Scorch S15 in fourth. Not that any of them really seemed to mind…
If the Yokohama 2012 World Time Attack Challenge will be remember for anything, though, it won’t be the upsets. It’ll be the exploits of this man – Warren Luff…
…Behind the wheel of this crazy lap-eating, record-destroying, time attack machine: Nemo.
With Nemo running a best time of 1:25.0200, team head Chris Eaton couldn’t have ask for a better way to launch the career of the world’s most adventurous time attack machine, a car built not only to capture and reset the WTAC lap record, but those of similar events around the world. Buttonwillow and Tsukuba? You can bet they’re both on the list. We’ve got 12 months to wait and see which teams will return to WTAC to challenge Nemo, and what automotive firepower they’ll bring with them to attempt to get the job done. For now, as Eaton’s t-shirt reads: “The benchmark has been raised.” I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with that…
Stay tuned, there’s more WTAC action to come!
The benchmark has certainly been raised alright. You can buy the same shirt Chris is wearing at http://www.ausgarage.bigcartel.com/
Such an amazing car to see and hear in person. Its going to be a car that will go down in history.
LOL ok how bout a more clear cut class system and simpler titles such us unlimited /open /tuner and street unlimited can be for those just throwing $$$ at a car and seeing what happens Street can be for those of us with bills open and tuner can be for those better off myself id be in the "does toyo make shoe soles?"
If the record time keep dropping at this rate, I say we will see sucker car really soon, provided that the rules don't change.
I'm already SMFH on some of the comments. LOL. but thats the opinion of others. for me, Time Attack has grown and it will continue to grow. there will be teams, drivers and cars that wants to be faster, no matter how much money or time they are going to need. also, people should not worry about teams having a budget of a hundred dollars, to a million dollars or so. thats why there are CLASSES. why should we have a "cap" on what allowable "budget" a team has to spend? so fucking what if you spent a million dollars on a race program or just a couple thousand. as far as NEMO Racing goes, I bet they didnt even spend $1 million. more like 300-400K. or give or take half a mil. SIERRA SIERRA have a 5 million dollar budget on their race program, and they lost to Cyber EVO 2 years in a row. Chris Rado has a couple million dollars to spend on his program as well. but who cares? let those people be in a class of their own. there are other classes in Time Attack anyway. plus, these big budget, record breaking teams / companies / shops etc, are the ones making Time Attack a very well known and respected type of Motorsport. if everyone does have a clue or idea of how Time Attack started, just look at the history of it. it all started in Japan at Super Lap. over there, theres not even a set "class", but you are categorized by Lap Times. in Japan, there are little to no rules at all. no budget caps, no one cares what you have or how much you spent on the car. RUN WHAT YOU BRUNG. thats what TIME ATTACK really is.
I haven't been able to find information on what happened to the Prep'd Motorsport Lotus Exige GT3. I saw pictures of a crash, but wasn't able to confirm the circumstances. Was there even a single timed lap??
The HKS Evo threatened to bring Time Attack into a serious big budget contest but it retired quickly. The Nemo Racing Lancer Evolution is threatening to do the same. Hope Time Attack doesn't become like D1GP and Formula D... These two drift series sent many fans who loved drifting running back to watch "grass roots drifting."
I personally think they really went too far with the aero. I understand function>form on a race track, but isn't all these circuit time attack series is all about having heavily tuned "street cars" and a good advertisements for the tuning shop? What I mean is, they went too far that almost none of the exterior customization could gone into street car tuning.
This is just my personal opinion, there is nothing wrong with what they did.
i love fast cars but the aero on these things are just too much!... I let that FWD scion pass cause it was soo powerful AND FWD....
everything now looks like a crashed f-22 with some Volks tossed on it ugh....
This is an event I wait to read every year here on SH and I'm never disappointed in the coverage, I can only wish that someday SH can do a recording of highlights of this event, as most of the time we want to hear these machines in their hot lap we end up going to youtube (which doesn't always have the best quality) I can guarantee that the quality of pictures and work ethic and dedication would translate into great video as well. Always wishing you guys the best..
@LavarBowers I agree. You've got teams with multi thousand$ to spend and that's great to see, but the whole event started off at Oran Park and there were a lot more guys who had spent a lot of their own time and money with what were essentially good Club or Pro-sport cars. Each year the pointy end got further out of the reach of the Grass-roots guys and so you have a real X-over of cars in Open class that are either as fast or faster than some in Pro class or slower than guys in street cars on street tyres in Clubsprint. There just seems to be a bit of a hole that the guys who want to run their caged cars on R spec rubber but are going to get smashed by these bigger team builds. I think the problem is going to manifest itself when these guys stop entering and that's the last thing the event needs. There's too much time without cars on the track as it is.
So having three classes with clear distinctions between them isn't simple enough? What's so difficult to understanding the difference between Pro, Open and Club classes?
@manekineko I think they are only about 6-7secs off an A1GP car now.
@KBR Totally agree. Nemo Racing from all accounts didnt spend anywhere near what people are banding about. I believe your guesstimate is close to the cost. Other cars at the event spent alot more and have not gone on to get the prize.
Time Attack in Japan has been there to provide a place where the Tuning houses can show there wares. That stopped long ago, particularly for WTAC. If you look at all the front running teams, from this year or last year, none of them are tuning shops. They are all race teams running cars. Last year of the top 7 teams, only 1 was a Tuning shop and that was a Japanese shop. You had to go down to 9th to get an Australian tuning shop.
This year you had to go to 8th to get an Australian tuning shop or 5th for a Japanese shop.
The teams at the front, whether they be Cyber Evo, SSE, Nemo, Tilton, Scorch are all private race teams, racing for the fun to be the fastest around the track.
Perhaps that is what needs to be implemented. You have a Pro Class Tuners division and a Pro Class Race team division.
You will always have the race teams whom want to do the sport, they wont constrain themselves with products they can then sell to the public. Even Cyber this year didnt follow that route with its aero.
@Chris Nuggets Didn't see it at the track at all, same with the ghosty Fernandez ute.
@worker bee Never understood the hipster mentality towards the growth of various motorsports. If you really enjoy the sport, you should be happy that it's growing and setting new limits for itself, not wishing for it to remain the same forever. I like watching street cars take on tracks on the weekend but I also like seeing ridiculous purpose built cars like Nemo that break new ground and show what a car is possible of doing. This applies to Formula D and D1 also. As much as I like watching 200 hp Corollas drift and show off their mad "jdm" skill, I also like seeing 1000 hp monsters holding 100 mph sideways to show how far drifting has come.
Call me crazy for wanting to see the pinnacle of each respective motorsport. They can't stay grassroots forever.
See the action in motion! http://vimeo.com/51995921 -- mad wtac 2012 wrap up vid!
looking at the cars i cant really see a difference till you get to the (im assuming) Pro class with the rides that look like Tie fighters...
@Brisevo Your statement that tuner shops have stopped competing in Japan Time Attack isn’t true. Garage HRS (Cyber), R.E. Amemiya, Top Fuel, Scorch, Pan Speed, Voltex, and C-West are all tuning shops and companies that service and/or provide tuning parts for street cars. While R.E. Amemiya was a pro-race team in Super GT, his main source of income is his shop and parts and not building race cars for millionaires and corporations. Race teams like Nismo, TRD, and Mugen compete in Super GT and leave Time Attack to the tuners. This all happened already when the HKS EVO CT230R broke the Tsukuba lap record using one-off expensive dry carbon body panels and aero, but Cyber still developed their car while keeping it closely related to the street EVO, which is why I’ve always rooted for them even though they weren’t the fastest. It’s okay if a race team wants to compete with race-car specs, one-off parts, and unlimited budget. I’ll still support the tuners that compete with cars I can relate to, provide garage mechanics with quality affordable parts, and move the tuning industry forward.
1. Time Attack was one of the few remaining motorsports where the parts produced from the sport found their way directly in the cars of enthusiasts and tuners. Many tuning shops used Time Attack to showcase products that they actually sold. By becoming an all out big budget money fest, this connection is lost.
2. D1GP and Formula D have become more bland and unremarkable despite the monster horsepower and money in these series. I would not like to see Time Attack go the same way.
3. Time Attack is a brand of motorsport where the "common enthusiast" can build a machine and compete without having to go up against big budget racing prototypes.
This is what I referred to in my comment.
@ Hanma: What's up with this "hipster mentality" bullshit? Man STFU.
@Hanma It's not a "hipster mentality"......growing does NOT necessarly mean growing financially!
Growing means allowing more exposure for the sport and allow enthusiast to be more involved.
If we don't draw a line of the budget each class uses, in the near future we'll see people showing up with tube-chassis-shilhouette cars. In other words, FAR, financially-wise from what a regular enthusiast could afford.
A great example of a company that supports this industry is Voltex. You can pretty much replicate the 2011 Cyber EVO (body-kit wise), for not very much money. Now ask Chris Eaton how much he spent on that dry carbon fiber EVO. That car is amazing, but, should it be in the Open Class?
"Call me crazy for wanting to see the pinnacle of each respective motorsport. They can't stay grassroots forever."
That's why there's F1, which has LOTS of clear rules that are VERY defined and implemented in the system, thanks to FIA.
@worker bee Nemo is in an unlimited class, read the rules/regs(or lack of) for the open class. The open class is for all intents and purposes really just is an unlimited class. The main issue with the open class is that it's too broad. Really what needs to be made is a class between open and clubsprint to accommodate for cars/drivers who are above clubsprint but not at a realistic position to be competitive in open class. Also professional and open class should either be integrated or at least made different in a more substantial way.
D1SL is really just as you described it and I think that's a good thing personally.
Pro am has some room to grow and could use some more publicity and restructuring to really get on the same level as D1SL. I wouldn't really call it a feeder series though as there's really only been a handful of drivers to move up from pro am, though there has also been a few drivers who have moved down to pro am from the pro division.
@Hanma I don't get too worked up over online comments, it was just annoying that you were busy calling names and not acknowledging my points. Classes are good if implemented properly. I think that Nemo car should be in an unlimited class with other big budget cars like it. Let's see if WTAC gets it right.
I would like to see the tuners who produce parts for public consumption compete with genuine streetable parts that I can buy later on. As for Pro Am and D1SL : D1SL is pretty good with many drivers that rival D1 drivers in less extreme cars with even D1 drifters competing when they can. Pro Am seems to be just a feeder/licensing series with the best moving on to FD.
@worker bee You don't seem to take differing opinions very well, but here is a legitimate question for you.
Why do you think they have multiple classes? WTAC has clubsprint, FD has pro am, D1 has SL. You keep dodging that point for reasons unknown to me.
And if that's all it took to offend you, I sincerely apologize. I'll remember to be gentler in my future arguments.
@Hanma In case you're too dense to figure it out, money is not solely my issue. My issue is how that money tends to dilute the sport and reduce many enthusiasts ability to compete, and also how it affects the direct link to the enthusiasts regarding parts (I'm repeating my points from my last comment with the hopes that your vision improves).
These problems can be alleviated with careful implementation and application of rules and regulations in the sport providing those in charge are interested. D1 and FD have not done any such thing and I don't hold out much hope for WTAC.
Since you seem more interested in making shit up about someone you don't know "You seem to want the sport to be stagnant and never changing") and indulging in useless name calling, I'll waste no more of my time.
1. That's why they have multiple classes.
2. That's you're own opinion. I'm actually fascinated by the new setups and technology that are going into new extreme drift builds. Take Mike Whiddet's Rx7 or Team Orange's ridiculous Laurel.
3. Same thing as the point 1.
It's a hipster mentality because you want Time Attack to stay grass roots and small time. You don't seem to want the sport to grow or become mainstream. You don't want more money flowing through and you bash teams for having more money than others. You seem to want the sport to be stagnant and never changing. You are EXACTLY like a hipster who is afraid of a band they like getting too popular or trying something different.
@JDMized JDM I completely agree with u on the above. Take note though the term hipster is being misused while at the same time managing to not answer any points made.
Now, I had been flamed before for similar sentiments to the latter part of your post. However again I will say that people don't seem to get where having little to no rules regarding aero can take us. They keep referring to this OPEN rule concept as being an "elevation" (benchmark being raised LOL!) of motorsports, when in fact it is quite the opposite.
Alas, you can lead the trendy ones to the water but you cant stop them from slurping the kool-aid.
@JDMized If anything the NEMO car should be in a new class called Unlimited. Trust me i got a bloody good look inside the car while in pitlane. You can see me in the first photo bottom left side with the yellow sunnies, getting a similar photo to Brads 3rd last photo of Luff. I've already heard figures of a $1Million budget for that car.
Thing that surprised me the most was the amount of overlapping in the times. As you had "OPEN Class" cars, beating half the "PRO Class" cars. Like the top OPEN car was 5secs faster then Redbrick & Panspeed. Plus the top "CLUBSPRINT Class" car was only 3secs off Redbrick & Panspeed.
This year was a landmark year, and it will be definitely interesting to see how it pans out next year.
Time Attack is all tuning both the car and driver to squeeze out the fastest possible laps on a track, for what possible reason would you ever want to restrict that? They call it the Open class for a reason. Same with the Professional class. You say that it's not accessible to enthusiasts, but what top level motorsport is? That's why they have the Clubsprint class. F1 is the same way. There are many different divisions below it to accommodate for enthusiasts with smaller budgets, less skill, less time, etc. Same with other growing motorsports series like Formula D. There's a pro-am class for a reason.
Whether you want to believe it or not, growth actually does equal financial growth. If you want it to be more accessible, call for more divisions beneath Open and Professional. Don't restrict preexisting classes because it's growing past the grass roots enthusiast level.