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– Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: MJ Digital.

It’s almost here! We’ve been waiting with bated breath for 2013’s World Time Attack Challenge, and it’s now just days away. Sydney Motorsport Park was buzzing yesterday as containers were unloaded and international contenders rolled onto Aussie soil, some of them for the first time. Ahead of yesterday’s preview event we were snuck in for an exclusive look at a handful of this year’s competitors. Here’s a peek at what’s to come.

Espirit’s NSX is one of the most highly anticipated Pro Class cars in 2013. It’s a proven performer having taken home fastest RWD honours from HKS Premium Day at Fuji Speedway earlier in the year.

In 2011 Garage Revolution took out third spot in their RX-7, putting a RWD car on the podium for the first time. Last year we saw MCA do the same with their S13, proof that RWD platforms can mix it with their AWD rivals. Could Espirit go a couple of spots better and end up on top?

Certainly if aero is anything to go by they’re not here for a picnic. Running an unusual north-south engine configuration with a transaxle sequential gearbox, it’s basically setup to Super GT specs with aerodynamics to match. Legendary WTAC driver, Tarzan Yamada, will be behind the wheel come Friday morning.

When RE-Amemiya’s ‘Hurricane’ FD arrived at WTAC last year it was much more show car than race car. Originally built for Tokyo Autosalon, the team made a few changes to prepare it for track use and gave it their best shot. All things considered they did very well to lap at 1:29s and finish sixth, but this year they’re out to really do some damage.

Under the bonnet sits a bridge-ported 20B triple rotor, boosted by a much bigger GCG-built turbo than last year’s car. That equates to a whole lot more horsepower, and with their additional aero and experience gained in 2012, you know this is one to watch.

Let’s talk about crowd favourites for a moment, because Mad Mike’s quad rotor FD ranks way up the list. No other car has presence quite like it, and the sound is one that has to be heard to be believed. To say we were excited to see this car again would be an understatement.

Win or lose, everything Mike does in MADBUL is memorable. You don’t want to miss out on a first-person experience of this thing on track. Fair warning from Mike, “We are coming over to Australia to win, this is certainly not a game to us.”

Nothing has polarised WTAC fans like Nemo. Records were blown to pieces by this car in 2012, and the team are here hoping to rewrite the record books once more. It’s truly an engineering masterpiece and we haven’t yet seen it’s full capabilities at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Sydney locals, Pulse Racing, are diehard Superlap addicts. Their quickest last year was an extremely respectable 1:30.8, and they have returned once more with an even more refined package, one that will be sure to pose a threat.

We’re big fans of the new orange livery, it will be impossible to miss once it hits the circuit. The unusual aero on this car is why we love the freedom given to WTAC competitors to do things differently.

Luck wasn’t on their side last year as their last hot lap with boost wound up just happened to coincide with Cyber Evo’s oil down right in front of them. “I honestly think we had a 28 or even a 27 in it still with some compromises in aero and handling set-up,” said Paul. Expect to hear more from these guys.

We commented last year about how quickly the top Open Class cars had closed the gap to Pro Class. Nik Kalis is one of those Open Class guys knocking on the door of low 1:30s around SMP, and this year he’s equipped with a better car than ever. Look out for this one.

Representing for the small contingent of Evo Xs is V-Sport, back to challenge once more after finishing 5th last year in Open Class. Rally hero, Rick Bates, will be at the wheel again making the most of horsepower upgrades and a new sequential gearbox.

Of course it just wouldn’t be WTAC without Under Suzuki and his Scorch Racing S15. Suzuki-san has made it clear that he wants to be WTAC champion, and nothing less. He’s quickly become a favourite among Aussie time attack fans and we can’t wait to see what this car can do. Despite it’s RWD ‘disadvantage’, this is the fastest time attack car in Japan right now having lapped Tsukuba in a staggering 52.6s.

We saw a new breed of time attack car born last year and it took a lot of people by surprise, but the field of entrants has elevated to meet the challenge. Competition is set to be fierce and I have no doubt records will tumble all over again. Make sure you grab your tickets and get out there.