The message that popped up on my phone last week read something like, “I want to break the course record, I have rented out Tsukuba and will be driving my car alone.” The message was sent by a certain Under Suzuki and those few short sentences certainly grabbed my attention. Having beaten Revolution’s time only two weeks prior, Suzuki-san obviously knew there was a lot more left in his car, and himself. I immediately replied that no matter what day, I’d be there, this was something I was just not going to miss because, after seeing him out at the Super Battle, I too knew – or believed – his S15 was capable of more.
So that is why I found myself strolling the deserted paddock at Tsukuba Circuit before the sun had even come up this morning. Suzuki-san and his team had already arrived, having unloaded the Silvia, put it up on axle stands and removed its wheels which, along with another three sets of fresh Yokohama A050 semi-slicks, were sitting in a makeshift tire-warmer (i.e. the back of a station wagon with a bunch of electric heaters and blankets!)
The schedule was a simple one. Since renting out a whole circuit to yourself is expensive business all that was available was a 30 minute session in which Suzuki planned to do a total of 4-time attack attempts. This would include one out/warm-up lap, a fast lap or two, and then a cool-down lap before a pit stop and tire change. Chasing tenths is already hard enough but with the pressure of having such a small amount of time available to do it in, not to mention knowing the whole world is watching, well let’s just say Suzuki-san must be good at dealing with pressure.
With over an hour to kill before the 8-am session start there was plenty of time to check out the S15 that Suzuki-san has developed over the years. The sheer pace this car has grown and evolved at is quite impressive, not even tuning shop demo cars change and improve so quickly, evidence that Suzuki-san is obviously a man on a mission.
The aerodynamics hold the secret to unleashing the true potential of this 800 HP beast, and there are always things happening with the body like these new additions to the front fenders, there to help boost front end bite.
Noticing that his S15 was sporting some pretty dated Speedhunters stickers….
…I immediately whipped out some fresher ones to adorn the car…
…which Suzuki-san immediately slapped on. We all though the #Maximum Attack ゼンカイ (zenkai) was a rather appropriate slogan for the day!
And while on the subject of aero, the rear spoiler is one of the most obvious changes, a part that was fitted half way through the Super Battle event three weeks ago. The idea behind the large bi-plane adjustable GT-like wing was to add much needed downforce to the rear section of the car which was suffering a bit after the new and improved front end design boosted downforce up front. This, along with the rear carbon fiber overfenders that Suzuki had designed, and made himself prior to WTAC this year, would help create a more balanced aerodynamic package. Suzuki had even removed the side mirrors since he would be out on track alone, potentially boosting top speed on the back straight by 1-2 km/h according to his calculations.
A little later, after more of Suzuki’s friends and team mates had arrived so did the lazy winter sun…
…illuminating the paddock with its faint warm rays.
Luke Huxham from Maiham Media was also out at Tsukuba to document the record attempt and was busy strapping his camera upside down in the S15′s cockpit. I’m sure his video will be making an appearance on the internets very soon.
Cool jacket uh?
As I documented the record lap attempt on our instagram feed (@thespeedhunters) I noticed there was some confusion in the comments. The lap record Suzuki-san was shooting for is for the fastest “tuned car” running on street-legal semi slick tires like the Yokohama Advan A050 he uses. It has nothing to do with the 51-sec lap Keiichi Tsuchiya set years ago in the Arta NSX JGTC car, as that was a race car running on slick rubber, nor the one set even years earlier by a Formula Nippon single seater. And to those that asked, if he is a privateer why does he have so many sponsors. Well the simple answer to that is budget; racing and competing at this sort of level is very expensive, so Suzuki-san has accumulated the support of small sponsors that in their own little way allow him to keep doing what he loves. He doesn’t own a tuning shop and all work on the car is done by himself and of course he drives it, hence him being categorized as a privateer. Hope this clears up any confusion.
Like pretty much everything else on the S15, the roof is also a dry carbon item, but rather than making it himself, Suzuki picked it up from the guys at Vertex.
With 15 minutes to go before the session start Suzuki turned the S15′s…
…highly modified SR20 on and let it idle and warm up for a few minutes. The most impressive thing about this 800 HP engine is the smoothness at which it idles. Since it’s fitted with a “VE” head, armed with variable valve lift and timing, there is no lumpiness usually associated with high-powered motors that run aggressive cams and timing/overlap.
Suzuki’s engine runs a full Naprec prepped head with all sorts of nice valvegear components that allows it to flow an impressive amount of air. Engine response is a crucial quality in any time attack build…
…as is downforce, because no matter how quickly and violently your power comes in, if you can’t put it to the ground, well what’ the point!
Suzuki’s racing gloves were already on top of the carbon dashboard; everything was looking good to go but there were a few final checks that were needed.
Like before each of his outings Suzuki always removes his spark plugs after the engine has warmed up and fits fresh ones with a higher heat rating.
In the meantime Takemura-san of Scorch Racing was enjoying a final puff before the very hectic 30-minute session would begin.
The Horikoshi brothers, owners of the two Exceed Moat Silvias were also there to support Suzuki, and lend a helping hand.
With the track surface just beginning to warm up, a slight breeze and air temperature just above freezing…
…it was time for Suzuki to get strapped into his car and hit the track.
His first outing was nothing more than a warm up session, done on used tires…
…a quick couple of laps that despite his leisurely pace…
…yielded a lap in the 54-seconds!
After three laps he pitted. The car was quickly lifted up and fitted with a set of fresh warm rubber…
…and in less than five minutes he was back out again.
I had literally only arrived to the exit of the in-field hairpin after racing my car back from the pit lane when Suzuki had already done it. His first attempt, a 53.310, 3-tenths or so quicker than the Rev Speed Super Battle record he set three weeks ago.
He immediately retuned to the pits for another fresh set of rubber…
…and then was out again.
This time I positioned myself at turn 1, so I could see him charge down the short front straight…
…get hard on the brakes and aggressively turn in, the car’s front 295-section A050s biting hard with tons of grip.
He went around one more lap and then, silence. I waited a couple of minutes but nothing happened. I immediately assumed there was some kind of problem so drove my car back down to the paddock and ran to the pit lane…
…only to find Suzuki-san out of the car and everyone with a big grin on their faces. Since I didn’t have a clear view of the timing tower from turn 1 I was completely unaware that he…
…had already set a course record, a 52.649! Content with his result and with only a few minutes to spare on his rented track time …
…having used all his tires…
…he called it a day.
Now that is the face of a happy and content man! It has taken close to a decade of hard work and dedication to get to this point…
…not to mention the help and support of a lot of people and close friends. Today, on the 20th of December 2012 it all paid off.
There is no question about it, the Scorch S15 is not done yet, Suzuki will not be resting on his laurels but will continue to push even harder. However, I think the question we should all be asking now is…what about Japan’s tuners? Will they step it up now that they have been beaten by a self-founded privateer? Will HKS bring out the CT230R again? Surely this is the beginning of a new challenge for everyone in the world of Japanese time attack. What do you guys think?
-Dino Dalle Carbonare
Congrats to Suzuki and his team, what an awesome thing to be a part of and then see it come around with a hot lap at Tsukuba. Very excited to see some people get motivated with a new time to get out and push their builds.
To put this time after so much work / testing for this team is just super great :D The car is mean :D it will be fun to se what the JGTC S15 wirh DTM 2,5 v6 500hp / pro siper GT driver / pro team for setup will do in 2013. The aero on jgtc is great, but need more for this track. Radni Molhampour Norway
Let's clarify few things here. Suzuki san did absolutely the impossible, but without the help of Takemura san and his garage, he wouldn't be here celebrating
Takemura san is been helping out Suzuki san since day one, and allows Suzuki san to work on his S15 at Scorch Racing. As a matter of fact Suzuki san often times lives his car at the shop (Japanese estate is expensive to store cars, let that alone race cars).
So while Suzuki san definitely deserve his prize, Takemura san also should be mentioned, because without his help, Suzuki san would have REALLY struggled.
Amazing! track record by almost a second with a "oldschool" RWD car in a track that favours AWD tracks :)
Time attack tracks dont favor AWD cars. See Formula 1, WTCC, DTM, etc...Old school yes, SR20DET is really old but unbeatable with a light body and lots of aero. Not to forget a astronomical knowledge of how to tune an engine without blowing in 1 minute. 2000 cmc and 800 bhp....Thats something! F1 has 2400 cmc and the same power. And they cost milions. And brake much faster. And is not an engine made in the '90's.... :)
Great story!Is there possibly a documentation of the build of the S15? One that shows more than the assembling of the car. (For example how the aerodynamic parts were designed and built)
Weihnachtsmann Well since it's been done over such a long period of time it will be hard but I am sure Suzuki has documented the progress well. Something to ask him next time I see him:)
Weihnachtsmann Suzuki's S15 got revised (aerodynamically speaking) by Andrew Brillant a couple of years ago or so. Andrew has always been sort of tight-lip when it came to aero-tricks (understandably).
Suzuki san added his twist to what Andrew designed. For instance, if you remember the old rear wing with the curved end plates, if I'm not mistaken Andrew designed those (and the wing), and Suzuki san changed it recently. Same thing with the single plane-wing to the double-plane wing, as well as the shape of the trunk.
Look also carefully the front fenders. The older-wide fenders had a round contour. Suzuki san recently cut the rear portion of the front fenders and added vertical fins to channel the air to the gurney flap right in front of the side mirrors (mirrors that he temporarily removed).
There are many little changes in the aero that he did after the WTAC. I suggest you look up the Scorch Racing blog and just read its archive. You should be able to find most of the answers you're looking for.
zephoto So am I, in no way with any negativity, but rather in the hope that big parts makers/tuners get a lot more competitive. It's all nice that the 86 has gotten so much interest this year, but come on, if you have a time attack beast you spent $1 million on...at least use the bloody thing (yes Revolution and HKS, I mean you guys!!)
speedhunters_dino zephoto Makes me sort of wish Mine's would get back into the crazy fast demo cars with near-stock bodies (not just time attack cars, but demo cars that leave the show floor)
then again I'm not sure I'd want to see a Mine's R35 be faster than their R34
And whatever happened to トミーカイラ
ComJive zephoto Don't worry, their R35 will never be faster than their 57-sec BNR34! Not for a long time at least.
Tommy Kaira? Was sold to a new owner who has taken the company in a totally different direction (i.e. dress up/show cars)
speedhunters_dino zephoto That's depressing. The ZZ was a terrific car, and I always had a taste for their weird looking subarus, and i have to admit i'd never turn down a ride in that hilarious R34 R.
Seems like all the big tuners I knew about (thanks to gran turismo 2) have wound down their efforts a lot over the past few years. HKS and Mine's especially. I guess other guys have taken their place but it's still not the same. When I was a kid the Mine's R34 and HKS R33 were the cars to beat in that game, but now I don't know anybody. At least private guys like suzuki-san keep some of that excitement alive
That is so awesome, someone has show the world that adding sticker does make your car faster!
But Big congratz to Suzuki on a awesome lap time and a bad ass car.
Yup I do Care to send me some so I can get my Honda Fit to go faster ;)
What a story, fantastic Dino! Delighted for the entire Scorch Racing team too!
Great time and great achievement!I wonder if the downforce will increased with a cleaner rear diffuser changhing the exhaust exit to the side like GT500 cars.
Amazing year for Under Suzuki and Scorch Racing. Many congratulations and looking forward for bigger things. 52.6 sec is a lot of achievement for a RWD. Congrats again.!
This article gave me the same chills i've got when watching taniguchi's lap in the EVO... mighty impressive i have to say... cant wait to see a video of the lap... the thing that impressed me the most was the prep time, and the actual time the track was rented for... and Suzuki managed to stay focused enough to get the very best out of his car. Truly astonishing!!!!!!!!
Indeed! It's as much about the passion and dedication of shops/owners/drivers as it is about the times themselves
Crossmember it would be very interesting, i think it would stun a few people with just how fast it actually is, remember it was ~40km/h down on the front straight compared to this car, has more power, would have to weigh a similar amount, would have a better launch out of the corners and has a lot more aero grip.
i think it could be the first car into the 50's, or at least low 51's, bold prediction i know, but if it ever gets there it will cement its spot as fastest time attack car in the world
777 Crossmember Bring it on is what I say. That's exactly the sort of competition and boost the Japanese time attack scene would need. I would love to see Nemo run at Tsukuba, it has the potential for seriously competitive lap times but I'd have to guess, like in a lot of cases, it would all be down to timing. If the team can bring car & driver here to Japan and test a few times, set up aero/suspension and whatnot and allow the driver to learn the track then they would be in with a very good chance. If it was a quicker affair, short testing times only in for a few days like all the Japanese teams have to do at WTAC each year, it might be difficult. Still I hope they do bring it over!
speedhunters_dino Crossmember absolutely, without true competition things go stale, would be a good battle to see
777 speedhunters_dino Crossmember
I wouldnt like to see nemo at tsubuka, nemo is an evo chassis (whats left of it) and the body is just a carbon wedge with little resemblance to an evo. Suzuki-san s15 is still an s15 and god damn what an s15, it doesnt have a one piece wedge replacing the guards, bonnet and bumper. Im sure Suzuki's car could be faster if he followed in the footsteps of nemo's engineers but it wouldnt be the same. I hope im not the only who thinks this way.
st3althr 777 speedhunters_dino Crossmember Would nemo even meet the same criteria as the scorch s15? I thought it might fall in the catagory or the nsx. Unless this class is only restricted to having a factory floor plan, suspension design and running semislicks, similar as WTAC.
st3althr 777 speedhunters_dino Crossmember
tecnically the center part of the nemo seems to be derivate from the "original" evo, unlike that FD3s that hold the previous tsukuba record (it had a costum tube spaceframe), however, continuing in this way the cars will resemble more and more to the DTM or Silhouette racing car only running on semi-slick tyres