Why We Keep Coming Back To WTAC

So why do we keep coming back to the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge? On the surface, it may seem like a silly question, but with local car communities shrinking and national motorsport events experiencing the lowest attendance in decades, I feel that it’s a question worth pondering.

In the 10 days since the 2017 WTAC, I’ve had time to take a reasonably objective look at what, in my opinion, drives the world’s premier time attack event to grow and evolve each and every year.


My first WTAC adventure was 2011, purely as a spectator. All I need to do is close my eyes and I’m instantly transported back to my first encounter with a time attack machine at speed, specifically Panspeed’s vibrant yellow FD3S RX-7 blazing through Sydney Motorsport Park’s famous Turn 1. Since then I’ve never missed an event, and I’ve never left disappointed.

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That’s my reason for returning year after year, but I’m just one of an entire legion of local and international fans who make the annual pilgrimage to Sydney especially for this event. So let’s have some fun and take a closer look at what I think makes WTAC continue to grow.

Breaking Records, Making Memories

Let’s kick off with the most obvious answer: Eager spectators line the track to cheer on the brave few who risk it all to attack the clock with their custom-built, four-wheeled weapons. It’s a pure experience.

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If you’d told me a decade ago that I’d be interested in what is mostly a whole day of qualifying, I’d probably return a puzzled a gaze. But that would be before witnessing the raw speeds and struggles of drivers, engineers, and cars as they chip off precious fractions of seconds.

But really, before the time attack phenomenon took hold, who could have imagined that the tin-top vehicles of WTAC would be challenging open-wheeler lap times?

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This is a relatively young sport, so the evolution of the cars in itself is interesting enough to continue to draw crowds. Three things are guaranteed at the start of every year: Engines will explode, aero will grow, and records will be broken.

This year, even with unfavorable weather, Tim Slade and the MCA ‘Hammerhead’ S13 lapped Sydney’s home of motorsport in 1:20.971 seconds. Seven short years ago, I remember the world being blown away by Tarzan Yamada and Japan’s Cyber Evo’s time of 1.30.587.

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That’s close to a 10-second difference, and more importantly, these full chassis cars are now just 1.8 seconds slower than the track’s outright fastest lap, which was recorded by Nico Hulkenberg in an F1-styled A1GP open-wheeler.

The same standard of innovation can be seen flowing down through all WTAC’s classes. The difference in professionalism and lap times between the different divisions has never been closer.

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Even the lap times being posted in the Clubsprint class in near-standard vehicles is impressive. While the outright speed of the Royal Purple Pro Class is fantastic to view, it’s also fun to watch the V-Sport Clubsprint Class cars lean hard and bite-in as drivers wrangle their way through the turns.

Driving Stars & Dream Cars

WTAC is more than racing, though. Over the years it’s evolved into a festival that celebrates speed and horsepower like no other event in the country, possibly even the world.

Trackside always feels like a party; there’s an infectious vibe from the enthusiastic crowd. Regardless of whether you’re in pit lane, trader alley or all the way out towards the back of the track, people are smiling and having a great time.

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In Australia, there are few opportunities to casually mingle with racing royalty. Where else can you get your helmet or car dash signed by Keiichi Tsuchiya? Or accidently bump into Tomohiko ‘Under’ Suzuki while you’re both admiring the Mazda 767B?

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Open garages mean that you don’t need a special pass, or to be part of the team to witness the drama and action of pitlane as teams race to finish last-minute repairs to send their driver out with the best possible chance of victory.

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During the warmer hours of the afternoon, teams have some additional time to prep their vehicles and the track transforms into a high octane spectacle.

Drag battles, drifting and historic racers from across the globe take over the tarmac.


This year saw Tsuchiya-san race around the track in his iconic Hot Version AE86 for the first time. I lost count of how many scale-model AE86s I saw being carried around by excited punters.

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Fans also had the opportunity to relive the sounds and colours of classic Japanese GT championship cars. A ‘Narita Dogfight Battle’ was staged between two original historical JGTC GT300 machines sporting their original liveries.

Dale Malone’s Nissan Silvia S15 went head-to-head with New Zealander Aidan Barret’s newly acquired Bomex/RE Amemiya Mazda FD3S RX-7.

The mighty quad-rotor powered Mazda 767B returned to blast every ear-drum within a kilometre radius of the track. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of seeing and hearing this beautiful monster.

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The 767B looked better than ever after a fresh restoration following a crash at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.

If You Build It, We Will Come

The final reason we keep returning year after year? Getting up close and personal with some of the highest quality builds in the country. The trader zone, pit lane and ‘Stylized’ car show areas are littered with greatness.

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Where ever you turn, something incredible is vying for your attention. As you’ve probably noticed in Dino’s spotlights, both the variety and craftsmanship on display were jaw-dropping.

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But the real driving force that separates WTAC from other motorsport events of its scale is that the team behind the scenes are all die-hard enthusiasts and fans of what they present. They live, breathe, build and even race their cars.

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Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge stands out, in my mind, because passion, not dollars drive it. That’s not to say that this is a charity, but where most larger-scale events are run more likely to have ideas shut down by the bean counters in their dark rooms, the team that runs WTAC are car mad and willing to take a chance.

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They’ve got a pretty solid idea of what excites us because it excites them too. I can’t wait to see what crazy ideas the team bring to Sydney in 2018.

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham

The Cutting Room Floor
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Good read! Great article!


I attended my first 'time attack' this year. A much more grass roots variety but I am hooked. I really can not wait to get into more of it next year, lots of little things to do to my car to be ready for next year, but winter is long and cold here in the prairies of Canada so may as well make the best of it.

Dream is to attend a WTAC one day, even to watch would be amazing! Thank you for the coverage!


Id like to go and snap snap someday


Very well written, nice pictures and you made some very good points as to the appeal of this series. From a driver's perspective I would say the reason this is popular is that it takes less money and it's easier to win than any competitive wheel to wheel racing. Open wheel is a fortune now to even get to a point where you can make a name for yourself.

I would avoid misleading people about lap times by using the phrase "F1 style A1GP" the two cars are light years apart and bear almost no similarities other than they are open wheel single seaters. Years ago I spoke to a guy who ran in the unlimited class at the HKS Speed Ring event who informed me that their motors basically can't run more than 2 or 3 laps before exploding.

The difference in a real race between a top time attack car and an A1GP car would be several minutes. No comparison. I do think these types of events offer more entertainment and that the general interest in younger people about real racing and racing craft is unfortunately diminishing.


I think the comparison was in the lap time alone, not comparing machine to machine or in an actual race between the two. Just showing the progress that has happened in such a short space of time.


and put proper race slicks onto a WTAC car and it would go quicker again. The limiting factor in these things is tires.


Not sure if my last response went through, but if you are talking about actual racing the gap between an A1GP car and a top level time attack car would be huge. A1GP is probably a poor example. Formula cars in the 80s are still 8 to 14 seconds faster per lap than the fastest time attack cars in the world.

Not sure what you meant by proper race slicks. Do WTAC cars not run on slicks? I thought they did, but could be wrong.


They run on 'Control' Advan, Semi-Slick tyre.


They run Yokohama A050.

For a different perspective, the V8 Supercars quickest qualifying lap this year was 1:28.3
The amount of aero they run is insane, you can see the stability and downforce at work through turn 1.


Thanks for the info guys. I'm not surprised they are faster than V8 Super Cars. More horsepower, probably less weight, unrestricted aero. It's a bit of an apples to oranges comparison since the rule book permits much different rules. Shows how much air and horsepower matter!


I really, REALLY want to see one of these guys take their car to the European Hillclimb series, or one of the Hillclimb guys going to WTAC.

Specifically I want to see one of those Judd-powered BMWs with the crazy aero of the WTAC.


WTAC cars must retain production based engines and also production chassis within limits, so no real comparison to some of the hillclimb spaceframe cars.


Was thinking the exact thing! Since the quickest cars are basically Pikes Peaks cars now :P
Hopefully the Finnish Audi R8 team's appearance entices more European hill climb/Gatebill cars (both time attack and drifting).


Ignoring pretty much every open wheel car on the planet you'r right. If you want to see real speed on a hill climb google Lionel Regal. You can thank me later.


I'll retort with Georg Plasa, RIP. You're welcome.


Wait, did Plasa die? I know Lionel passed away on a hill climb.


Then I apologize. Georg Plasa passed away doing what he loved in 2011, at the Coppa Carotti in Italy. I won't link the vid, but its on the Tube. :/ That BMW is one of the most incredible cars ever built.


I just watched a spectator video of it. Looks like he died on impact, just slumped over in the car after the crash. Very sad. The Judd powered BMW was one of the baddest hill climb cars on the planet. If you watch some of the F3000 stuff though it's mind blowing how fast they are.

Hill Climb in an open wheel car has to be one of the most bad ass things you can do in a car. There's a team that campaigns a V10 F1 engine short wheelbase car though I can't remember the name now. Something like 900lbs with 700whp. Makes time attack look softer than it already is haha. Long live Regal and Plasa. They might not have 50,000,000 views on YouTube, but they will be the real deal forever when it comes to racing against the clock.


Great article! Sums up what WTAC is all about. It's grown so much. I love how unique, creative and crazy every single build is. No two cars are the same and are super interesting to see.

It 100% is an automotive festival that is growing rapidly. Even the Stylised portion had a club vibe to it with music running pretty late. Crazy builds from Australia and internationally makes it truly exciting. No matter what your fave automotive style is, it'll be there. A must-go to anyone who loves cars. Very excited to see it continue to grow.


It may just be me, but I genuinely enjoy time-attack more than drifting