The essence of time attack repeats itself for 2018. Records are there to be broken, and the theoretical times each car can and should achieve are there to be chased.
And during today’s first Pro Class session at the World Time Attack Challenge in Sydney, Australia that’s precisely what Barton Mawer managed to do in the PRTech Racing RP968.
1:19.825 is officially the new WTAC record, and the lap time that the only other car in the Pro Class – the MCA Hammerhead Nissan S13 – will be chasing in the remaining sessions on the event’s final day. Sitting two seconds off the pace, the MCA team needs everything to come together perfectly. That’s if the weather holds out; we were blessed with warm sunshine up until about 30 minutes ago, but now the clouds are rolling in from every direction.
After having some misfiring issues, the wild RP968 Porsche seemed to cooperate with Barton for the minute-plus it takes to piece together a strong and potentially event-winning lap. The 968 was right on the heels of Warren Luff in the MCA S13 on Friday, but came to the track today with an obvious advantage.
Kosta Pohorukov, owner of the three-time WTAC-winning Tilton Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, now running an upgraded Voltex aero package, has so far come away with an impressive 1:24.630. If you’ve followed this car you’ll know that time is slower than the 1:23.777 it ran in 2015 to take the title, but that was with pro driver Garth Walden at the wheel. Kosta is an amateur, hence the Evo now running in the Pro-Am Class.
However, and this a big however unfortunately, but just as I was finishing this post and ready to hit the publish button, Kosta took the Evo out for another attempt, this time running at full power. On the exit of the first corner he ran a little wide, putting the wheels in the dirt sending him on an unfortunate trajectory towards the inside concrete wall. Blake has just managed to capture this image and the damage looks pretty extensive. Thankfully, Kosta is fine, which at the end of the day is the most important thing.
J-Spec Performance from Switzerland aren’t having the best time here at Sydney Motorsport Park. They’ve been plagued with small issues that have continuously held them back from showing their Evo X’s real potential.
This morning their engine threw in the towel in a pretty spectacular way at the top of the pit straight, but the Evo coasted to a stop down by where the drag cars warm up their tires for the Flying 500. There the engine started smoking heavily, and it took a good few minutes for the marshals to respond and get over to the car with a fire extinguisher.
This was all happing as J-Spec’s mechanic angrily observed from a distance, unable to do anything himself as strict rules forbid crossing the track at any time during the day. Imagine standing there and watching the car you’ve lovingly put together burn. This was all embellished with colorful Italian words to express that frustration.
With the car possibly having leaked some oil on track, the session was stopped immediately.
With only a crew of two, J-Spec were beginning to think that swapping in the spare engine at this point in the day would be impossible. But word got out that they could do with some help, and in the space of five minutes more than 20 mechanics showed up at their pit garage. This is the perfect example of the underlying friendliness you’re greeted with in Australia; you are never too far away from someone that is willing to lend a helping hand, especially in the car world. They picked eight guys to help and they’re now hard at work trying to get the car out there for the remaining sessions.
Another nice sight this morning was Dale Malone’s S15 Silvia, which many of you will know as the ex-Unisia Jecs JGTC car from the early 2000s. On Wednesday night during a tuning session on Haltech’s dyno, the SR20 blew due to a freak issue that caught everyone off guard. Dale took the car back to his garage and over the next two days pieced together and installed another engine from his spares inventory. It’s great to see him behind the wheel for this event, and the car looks really fresh with its new livery.
The Team Escort Evo should be fine today after the misfiring issues it experienced yesterday, however due to an issue with his arm, Ando is unable to drive the car and has called in Under Suzuki. Despite not having finished his new S15 Silvia back home in Japan, Suzuki-san came over to WTAC to see how things would go down this year. I bet he never expected to be sitting behind the wheel of a car!
Excitement is now building. Will the RP968 team improve on their new record? Will MCA hit back with an even better time? Will rain spoil the remaining sessions? We’ll have an update for you at the end of the day with a quick rundown of all the big news.
Dino Dalle Carbonare