It’s been a long time since commercial motorsport in Australia has been exciting. The days of Group A racing are a distant memory, and that void has been waiting for a suitable replacement. Enter the 2010 World Time Attack Challenge.
I can imagine being a foreigner looking in on Australian car culture and seeing nothing but a mass of people obsessed with V8 powered taxis. To a large extent that’s true, and as an Aussie with a broader taste in competitive motorsport it’s quite embarrassing. No doubt that an event like the WTAC appeals to a much more niche audience, but the crowds who poured into Eastern Creek last Saturday were certainly out in force to show their support.
In contrast to the traditionally styled rounds of the V8 SUPERCARS, the World Time Attack Challenge, also known as SuperLap, is about outright lap speed. Hosted primarily by Yokohama Advan, invites were sent to key tuning houses here in Australia as well as Japan and the United States. Months of planning and advertising came to fruition with an amazing spread of teams taking part in the PRO division of competition.
The lead up to the event promised so much, and when the time came it delivered in every way. Spectators were treated to a display like no other with enough diversity to appease all tastes. Besides the core competition taking place on the circuit, ticketholders had access to a huge show and shine, trade stands, club displays, motorcycle stunt show and aerobatic display. As huge as that sounds, nothing could outshine the raw ferocity shown by the time attack entrants.
American team Sierra Sierra were making it clear from the outset that they were there to win. Desperate to get one over their Japanese cou
nterparts, they sprung from the gates early on Friday morning to lay down a time in the 1 minute 32 second bracket and snatch an early first place rank. Over the course of the day they continued to show their power with back to back times within a few hundredths of that position. Their full carbon fibre Lancer Evolution was a force to be reckoned with, and on paper the only car with a real chance of beating it was the Cyber Evo. Unfortunately spectators never saw the Cyber Evo on the circuit during Friday’s sessions, as the team snapped a cam shaft during practice the day before.
Saturday morning came quickly and knowing that the Cyber Evo was now repaired, David Empringham in the American Evo broke out another quick lap early to further extend the Sierra Sierra lead with a 1:31 recorded. Unfortunately for them, Tarzan Yamada at the wheel of the Cyber Evo car used it’s power-to-weight advantage and clocked a 1:30.58. That was to eventually be recognised as the quickest time of the event, with Japanese team Tomei Cusco taking out third in their WRX. Yamada is no doubt still recovering from his weekend of racing, as he drove not only the Cyber Evo car, but the Tomei/Cusco entry as well – making it an unusual double podium appearance for himself!
As if all of that top level competition wasn’t enough, there were sessions of Open and Clubsprint class also running during the two days. Privateer competitors from all over Australia entered a huge variety of machines into these categories and gave spectators a real show. Lancer Evolutions ended up taking out the top spot in all three categories, a tribute to their abilities as track machines.
But perhaps the most spectacular display came from the drifters with two separate rounds running over the weekend. Well known driver, Beau Yates stole the show in his recently completed AE86 Levin. It’s new livery looked fantastic on the track and his driving blew the crowds away as he showed up every other competitor with his style and control.
There’s no hiding the huge diversity within the different tuning circles of Sydney’s automotive enthusiasts, and that makes it pretty damn hard to please all the people all of the time. But I truly believe that no other event in recent times has had it covered as well as the WTAC. The wheels are already in motion for next years competition, and I can’t wait to be there and witness it all over again.
Our cameras were rolling more or less non-stop for the days leading up to and including the event itself. Given the number of shots we had, here’s a relatively small number that we’ve selected to give a taste of what the event was like. If you have the means, I highly recommend making plans to be at SuperLap 2011.