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– Words: Ryan Lewis. Photos: Kory Leung Gwyn Morgan.

There was a distinct feeling of confusion amongst time attack fans at the end of the World Time Attack Challenge in 2012. ‘Where do we go from here?’ I remember asking. Every driver who took to the track had elevated their performance from the year prior, it was the quickest field of contenders by a large margin, yet a previously unheard of team managed to sweep through and demolish the competition. This year’s event brought all sorts of new things to the table; a new time of year with warmer weather and better conditions, new classes of racing, a new top speed challenge and new competitors across the board. Records were broken in spectacular fashion, and the bar raised yet again. Here’s what we saw in 2013.

Entrant diversity has always been a big drawcard, and this year’s lineup was arguably the most varied including new platforms never before raced at WTAC.

International entries for time attack included five cars from Japan, two from Cyprus, one from New Caledonia and one from New Zealand.

For so long Japanese teams have dominated time attack racing, including the first two years of WTAC. They’re now having to step up their game to continue being competitive as the rest of the world catches up.

The theme this year was aerodynamics. Nemo’s incredible victory last year reset what it meant to have a proper time attack car, proving the value of a truly effective aero setup.

Even older platforms like this legendary R32 Skyline GT-R can achieve staggering results with the right upgrades.

The Sutton Brothers returned for 2013 taking part in the new Pro-Am Class, designed for elite level cars driven by their owners and not by professional drivers. Their S15 continues to take our collective breath away!

With just six sessions per group spread over two days of racing, drivers had to get their eye in early to get the most out of the tools at their disposal.

Jason’s JET3LT VL Commodore was seen once again, this time spending a lot more time on the track and a lot less time in the pits. The team managed a best lap of 1:40.04, agonisingly close to the thirties. Unconventional choices like the VL are part of what makes time attack so entertaining!

Rob Nguyen, last year’s front-wheel-drive champion, in the ‘Mighty Mouse’ CRX went almost a second quicker than his best in 2012, clocking 1:34.165 this time around. Truly amazing for a naturally aspirated, FWD car!

All eyes were on the Nemo Racing Evo 7. Could it really go quicker? For the most part the car was largely unchanged since last year, save for fresh livery, a new motor setup and some minor adjustments to comply with the 2013 rules. As we know by now, the team couldn’t continue their domination, instead taking out third place and heading back to Queensland with plenty of work to do.

RE-Amemiya brought their ‘Hurricane’ FD RX-7 back to Sydney, looking much more race car and much less Tokyo Auto Salon show car than last time.

James Anderson brought out his S15 for Open Class. Last year did not go well with the car staying in the pits for the whole event, but more preparation time this year worked in his favour.

WTAC veterans, Pulse Racing, unleashed their Evo with a new look and refreshed determination. Steve Glenney drove once again, achieving a best of 1:30.875, an almost identical time to their fastest in 2012.

Under Suzuki needs no introduction, his back to back to back appearances at WTAC have earned him huge respect from Aussie fans. He finished in fourth, equalling his best performance in 2012, despite lapping almost half a second quicker!

We will see this car again as Suzuki-san continues to develop it back home in Japan. It has more potential yet to be realised. Working with aerodynamicist , Andrew Brilliant, Under should have the equipment to challenge for a podium spot in 2014.

Also from Japan was the Top Fuel/Voltex S2000, a collaborative effort between two of Japan’s top manufacturers. Nobuteru Taniguchi took the wheel, the car lauded to have the right stuff to go fastest on the day, but it wasn’t to be with their ‘big’ motor suffering irreparable failure during practice. They still took to the track with their spare motor but finished in fifth, 1:28.866 their best.

Taniguchi-san has tried his best to leave a mark on WTAC history, but so far that accolade has alluded him. He drove both the S2000 above and RE-Amemiya’s RX-7, below, piloting them to within one second of each other with the FD just slightly behind the S2000 in Pro Class.

Desperation to win has left Taniguchi to post on his personal blog asking for someone in Japan to provide him with a fast enough car to get onto that top step.

We were almost as happy as the brothers themselves when the Sutton’s S15 took out second place in Pro-Am Class. Their quickest time of 1:31.832 was almost 2.5 seconds quicker than 2012, a remarkable achievement!

Of course it wasn’t all quick laps and time attack, Tectaloy’s International Drift Challenge took the reigns of the new South Circuit and gave the crowd plenty to cheer about. As many predicted, Daigo Saito added another title to his name, winning against Mike Whiddett in the final.

Mad Mike returned with his MADBUL quad-rotor RX-7, a noise maker like no other. He fought hard to make the final battle, but few can match the prowess of Saito.

Levi Clarke’s LS3-powered S15 was one of the best looking drift cars out there, shown here blazing its way up the hill.

It’s always tough to see any crash, but this one was particularly heartbreaking. Beau Yates has been drifting this AE86 for years, winning the Drift Australia Championship in it back in 2006, as well as the TIDC in 2010. While this accident was not his fault, it shows the risks involved with doing what these guys do. Beau has vowed to bring the car back better than ever.

Not an everyday sight. This F40 was on display in the pits then taken out for a couple of display laps, not that it was driven at all slowly!

A collection of preserved race cars from the turbo era of Australian motorsport were on hand for demonstrations, any of which we would’ve happily taken home ourselves.

2013 was the year of carnage, there seemed to be more more collisions, accidents and fires than any other. The WRX above caught fire in the pits but was extinguished before any major damage was done.

We’ve followed Steve’s build of this R34 from right back at the start. It is now a far cry from those days, having been taken under Powertune’s wing.

Driven by John Boston it pulled in a best of 1:34.719, hugely faster than their time of 1:39.368 in 2011, although the car has transformed so much since then it’s barely comparable.

Potentially the most improved car and driver in WTAC was the Tilton Honda Civic driven by Luke Ryall, who put a 1:37.069 on the board, over 5 seconds faster than his time in 2012!

James of SX Developments found his car’s balance to be a lot different after the switch to Yokohama tyres, something he needed more time to adjust to.

Heasman Steering’s S14 was a hit on the blog when our feature dropped a couple of months ago. With only a handful of test sessions under their belt the team still managed a respectable 1:37.227, driven by Nathan Antunes.

Another committed WTAC devotee, Nik Kalis, getting a little crossed up in his hunt for a podium finish. Unfortunately fourth place was the best his Evo could muster despite lapping 2 seconds quicker than last year!

JDM Yard pushed hard to get their recently upgraded DC5 Integra Type R onto the track this year. It’s new forced induction setup helped it earn a best of 1:37.777.

Conditions were perfect for spectators and competitors alike. Hosting the event later in the year gave us sunny, mild weather and plenty of light into the evening thanks to daylight saving time.

Off the track there was plenty to check out, as always, with promo girls taking a lot of the limelight!

Traders and exhibitors really stepped it up this year, the paddock area was packed with stuff to see. Experts from every facet of the aftermarket were represented.

Strong crowds suggest the World Time Attack Challenge is really hitting its stride. Attractions like the new Flying 500 top speed battle hint at the shape of things to come as it continues to expand.

With all of the hype and the build up, it was incredible to watch the Tilton team’s event unfold. After years of persistence, the stars finally aligned and everything came together for them. Blistering performance from the Evo and a stellar drive from Garth chalked up the record-breaking lap of 1:24.855. Everyone knew it represented something truly special.

These top tier teams are pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved on a road-legal tyre, but no matter how close we may think we’re getting to the limit of this racing style, there is yet more still to be extracted. The best is yet to come!