TRACK: WTAC 2012 FROM PIT LANE

– Words: Jason Hanif & Ryan Lewis. Photos: MJ Digital.

The 2012 World Time Attack Challenge is done and dusted. Teams and their drivers have prepared, tested and conquered the racetrack at Sydney Motorsport Park, and now that the champagne has been popped and the winners crowned, we’ve got a different view to share from this year’s event. Here’s our look at the action from pit lane at WTAC.

Sadly, Cyber Evo was plagued with problems before it even hit the track. The car arrived and went straight to Haltech for fine-tuning where a few problems were examined. The team worked hard around the clock to get the issues sorted but missed all sessions on day one, arriving to Sydney Motorsport Park towards the end of day one.

Before session one of day two, the team worked frantically to get the final touches done and all components checked.  The pressure was on, with no testing after a number of significant modifications it’s safe to say the team was unprepared for what would happen. Ultimately, it popped a rear main seal due to a restricted breather line. The nature of racing had Cyber Evo ruled out of this years challenge as it steered back into pit lane in a cloud of smoke.

There were a total of five Pro Class cars competing from Japan at this year’s challenge. Anticipation was high to see the inaugural outing for RE Amemiya’s ‘Hurricane’ RX-7, more-so with Nobuteru Taniguchi behind the wheel. It ended up placing sixth overall.

Tyre choice plays an important role in time attack and support from manufacturers has been a key factor in keeping the WTAC series running. Both Yokohama Advan and Hankook have supported WTAC as major sponsors for the Pro Class and Open Class respectively.  Specifically, Yokohama has supported the event since it’s first round at Oran Park in 2008, when it was known as ‘Superlap’.

This year, Panspeed didn’t return with the RX-7 which we’ve become accustomed to seeing at WTAC. There were no complaints though, as they brought their new 20B RX-8 instead. The aspirated, peripheral port three rotor was one of the most pleasing cars to hear lapping Sydney Motorsport Park. Even in the pits, it had the other teams and media personnel in awe. You can check it out for yourself in this video.

When the cars come back into the pits with problems or potential issues reported by the driver, it’s up to the relative teams to get it sorted as quickly as possible before the next session. Stress levels can shoot through the roof.

We first saw the Top Fuel/Voltex racing S2000 being assembled at Garage88, where we also met the team behind the build. Now with finished livery, Nobuteru Taniguchi pushed the 700hp FC S2000 into fifth place with a 1:29.05.

It takes a lot of hard work and long nights behind the scenes for the teams involved to get everything prepared and ready for race day. Each and every international team should be commended for their efforts.

This year competition was fierce and the playing field had a larger scope. The Redbrick Racing team joined the race with their Mitsubishi Evo IX from the UK.

There’s no doubt that aerodynamic modifications play a crucial role in time attack. Even some cars in the Open Class would have looked right at home on track with the Pro Class competitors. “The wide body kit on the Suttons S15 was custom made by the two owners and drivers,” says sponsor Hypertune. “We’re trying to convince them to put it into production so we can all have one!”

Under the bonnet of the Sutton’s S15 is an extremely neat SR build, tuned by the guys at Unigroup Engineering. It’s a relatively mild setup compared to some of the other monster SRs getting around at WTAC, but it does the job well!

Taniguichi-san made no bones about his intentions at WTAC. He was there to win. With two cars under his control you could say he had more chance than most, but it was to be far from easy.

The Top Fuel S200 was one of the most exciting cars to watch on track. Taniguichi had it on the limit, barely maintaining traction most of time.

Australian entries took it up a few notches this year. STZ Automotive from Queensland have represented at WTAC before, but never with anything this impressive.

Under the bonnet of the STZ FD was a warmed over LS1 with Harrop intake and other modifications. Hearing a V8 bellowing out from an RX-7 takes a minute to get used to, but we like it.

Under Suzuki and the Scorch Racing S15 placed fourth in the Pro Class category with a 1:28.32. He took number one spot as an international competitor and out-did his time last year by more than three seconds.

To put this year’s time in perspective for the Scorch Racing S15, Under Suzuki did a 1:31.45 at last year’s event. More importantly, his time this year of 1:28.32 was quicker than the winning Cyber Evo at last year’s event, which did a 1:28.52.

While Garth Walden thrashed the Tilton Evo in Pro Class, Luke Ryall took the helm of the Tilton Civic in Opens.

Under the carbon bonnet is a neat turbo B-series motor. Luke took out ‘Fastest FWD’ in 2011, but couldn’t better that time this year.

Despite the problems plagued by Cyber Evo, the team and driver Tarzan Yamada were confident at the beginning of day two. Tarzan Yamada had steered the Cyber Evo into first place for Pro Class in the two previous years, so the pressure was on to see if he’d once again take a trophy back home to Japan.

One of the best vantage points at WTAC is seeing all the action that goes on in pit lane, and having media access to events like this allows us to get up close with the majority of cars. We took that opportunity to examine a number of engine bays.

Very few are as well presented as that of ‘Hurricane’, RE Amemiya’s latest track RX-7. This car was first displayed at Tokyo Auto Salon in 2011, so a lot of time was spent making it look as good as it performs.

PanSpeed’s engine bay was one of the most fascinating. The chassis of this car has had a lot of time spent on it, welding up every seam and making room for the motor to be mounted as far bas as possible. Here you can see the giant intake for the periperal port 20B, under which is the exhaust. The car was converted to left-hand drive because of this.

Scorch Racing is one of our favourite teams, and we know that a lot of you feel the same way. Their SR is of the highest calibre with a stroked bottom end and variable valve timing head. It’s capable of around 700hp.

The Nemo Racing Evo has generated plenty of discussion about the rules for competing in WTAC, specifically those related to aerodynamics. “Aerodynamic aids are unrestricted with the exception of cars utilizing mechanical force to create a low pressure area under the vehicle”. Does this mean that next year we’ll see a large number of Pro Class competitors taking their aero to the next level?

Somewhat contradictory to the rule mentioned above, under body vehicle modifications, the rules also state that all vehicles “must still retain the OEM factory body look and style”. Should Nemo have been allowed to pass scrutineering? Our comments field has been left open for your thoughts.

Regardless, in the end it was the Nemo Racing Evo which took top spot with a an impressive 1:25.02, congratulations to the Nemo Racing team and driver Warren Luff. Only time will tell what next year will hold for WTAC and we’re eager to see how other teams respond to Project Nemo. There are no signs of the World Time Attack Challenge series slowing down, especially with Japanese teams now fuelling the fire to once again take the trophy home. As far as we can see, the race has just begun.

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2 Comments

  1. Nice post and article, as usual. I think it’s great that Nemo pushed the boundaries and we’ll all be watching to see what happens next year. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Pro Class competitors advance from here. They’ve definitely shaken things up.

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