“I’ve been a fan of Hondas for a long time, even before I had my driver’s license.”
It’s almost humorous that a record-setting streak as strong as William Au-Yeung’s could have had such simple, benign beginnings. Such is the case, however, and it’s a theme that can be seen from generation to generation.
Will’s first Honda was actually an Acura, a ’95 Integra RS to be exact. Behind the wheel, Will grew to love and appreciate the FF platform (front-engine, front-wheel drive) much more deeply than he was able to from outside the car, and he says he’s been enjoying this layout ever since. His first track day came in 1997 at Shannonville Motorsport Park — located up North between Montreal and Toronto, Canada — where he piloted his Integra. “I was hooked right off the bat and haven’t looked back ever since,” he says.
Eventually, Will moved to a track-prepped ’90 Honda CRX Si, before getting into some wheel-to-wheel action using an EG Civic during the 2003-04 seasons. It’s a strong resume of FF seat time, and one that you could argue was fairly relatable. But given Will’s recent time attack accolades, he’s since vaunted himself into another level entirely.
As Dino’s recently explained, Will’s most recent notch on his belt came at Tsukuba Circuit in Japan. It was there a few weeks ago that he took the FF record within a few laps during Friday’s practice from Nobuteru Taniguchi and the HKS TRB-04 Suzuki Swift, which had previously set a 55.498-second lap last December.
At Attack Tsukuba, Will continued to shave down his lap times over the course of the weekend, ultimately ending up with a 53.071. Notably, this was nearly two seconds faster than the next contender.
This record came courtesy of his well-developed PZtuning-built Vibrant Performance 2012 Civic Si, as featured on Speedhunters some 18 months back. If you aren’t up on the goings on in time attack, allow me to share with you the list of records this Civic holds at this point: Buttonwillow CW13 Overall (1:37.308), Road Atlanta Overall (1:19.509), Gingerman Overall (1:23.775), NJMP Lightning Overall (0:59.819), CTMP Overall (1:20.200), and, now, Tsukuba FWD (0:53.071).
But before the highly-tuned Civic existed, Will built and drove a 2003 Acura RSX, a car which he still hammers around a circuit from time to time.
Will’s work on this chassis started in late 2012, but already by 2014 the RSX was a two-time GTA record holder in the Limited Class at Road Atlanta and Super Lap Battle, which takes place at Buttonwillow Raceway in Southern California.
Not only that, Will took the 2014 GTA Pro Championship in the Limited Class, and soon after began working to build the Civic.
With a solid list of sponsors on board — Vibrant Performance, Competition Clutch, BorgWarner, RAYS, Project Mu, and Fortune Auto — at their first outing in 2015 the Civic took home a victory in the Unlimited FWD Class at Road Atlanta. But rather than stripping down or selling off the RSX in the wake of his successful new build, Will held on to the retired Acura, giving it love in his spare time.
It’s striking how, at least aesthetically, the 10-year gap between the Acura and the Civic is mitigated by the big aero and similar liveries that both cars run. Given the investment in the two chassis, Will describes the RSX as a car that has no right to be as fun as it is.
It’s simply awesome to see someone at the top of their game who still truly enjoys tinkering around with cars and manages to find time to drive for fun — as Will was when I met him at Motovicity’s Speed Ring last year.
Still, that didn’t keep him from setting a new lap record — in the TrackMod class at the M1 Concourse — in the RSX on his way to taking the top spot in the bracket-style battles.
So, what is it that makes the nearly two decades old Acura so quick?Balance
The secret, of course, is in striking the right balance between each system. While Will has become a master of building and setting up his cars in-house at PZtuning, all we can really do from the outside is look at each component, recognizing that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Taking a peek under the hood, nothing immediately screams high-budget, nor does it seem too exotic.
Yet, the once relatively pedestrian K20A2 is now capable of 600whp and 450ft-lb of torque thanks to LA Sleeves, a tune at OnPoint Dyno, and a long list of parts. What you can’t see are the CP pistons, Brian Crower cams and rods, Supertech valves, and King bearings which hide within, making the big, reliable power possible.
What you can see is an RRC intake manifold which sources air through a Hybrid Racing throttle body. Meanwhile, a PTP turbo blanket-wrapped BorgWarner EFR 9174 provides ample boost with help from a Vibrant Performance intercooler as spent fumes exit proudly via a Vibrant titanium exhaust. Snug in to the corner of bay is a tiny Anti Gravity RS-30 lithium-ion battery and, behind it all, a Haltech Elite 1500 ECU controls everything.
From the K20A2 power travels into a Competition Clutch twin-disc, where a 6-speed strengthened with an Albins gear set passes it on to the front wheels through an OS Giken Super Lock LSD.
All four corners feature Fortune Auto Dreadnought dampers paired with Eibach Springs (19kg in the front and 28kg in the rear), along with an ASR 32mm sway bar out back.
Braking power comes thanks to StopTech ST40 328mm rotors inside the front wheels coupled with Hawk DTC80 pads (and DTC30s in the rear). While Will ordinarily runs RAYS Volk Racing ZE40s with Hoosier A7s all around on the RSX, street tires were used at Speed Ring on mismatched wheels.
Inside the car it’s all business. No stone has been left unturned, but the basics include a full cage fabricated in-house at PZtuning, a Sparco wheel, and an OMP Prototipo seat which make use of a Schroth Racing 6-point harness. Beyond these parts, a handful of switches, and the Hybrid Racing shifter there’s literally not much else to speak of.
Then there’s the aero. You simply can’t miss it, and with each year that passes the size and importance of this system is seemingly impossible to understate. Up front is the massive PZtuning splitter which works alongside Anointed Aero front fenders. Hanging over the back end is an APR GT1000 rear wing.Result
With a parts list as serious as what Will’s dealing with in the Vibrant RSX, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he describes the car as “temperamental at times, always a challenge going ten tenths in it.” But he says the result of a monstrous yet well-tuned time attack car — beyond the trophies and lap records — is an experience that is hugely rewarding when you nail that lap.
Although the RSX was technically retired in 2014 when the Civic build began, Will says they’ve since been slowly redeveloping the RSX. While it isn’t really a car full of Civic hand-me-downs, the cars share as much of their setup as is reasonable to keep the RSX’s budget in check.
Even so it’s clearly competitive, and still capable of winning events.
Although Will is fresh off his crazy experience at Tsukuba and work on the Civic will continue at full tilt, the RSX is still alive and well. In fact, Will tells me “I feel we still have a way to go in it, so I look forward to getting the most out of it that we can.”
Again, this is a car that Will himself described as simply being way too much fun for what he’s put into it. With an excruciatingly time-intensive program to manage and develop in terms of the Civic, it’s encouraging to see Will still enjoying himself behind the wheel of his old car.
It’s easy to lose your way as success comes — we’ve all seen plenty of examples of this — but, thankfully, this doesn’t seem to be happening to William Au-Yeung.
He’s still making time to have fun, and to remember why he’s doing this all in the first place. Perhaps thanks, at least in part, to the once-mighty RSX — a car which, in actuality, is now better than it ever has been. And yet, still second fiddle to what is becoming the fastest FF car in the world.
Trevor Yale Ryan