Man and machine versus the clock; this is the essence of time attack. Conducted like a qualifying session for traditional motorsports, time attack started as a competition for tuning shops to compete using their streetcar builds. It has since evolved into a professional-level competition, only with few performance restrictions, save for the requisite safety mandates.
Text by Richard Fong // Photos by Pole Position Images and David Lynsien/WTAC
Australians take just about anything they do to the extreme, which makes Australia the likely host country for the World Time Attack Challenge. Started in 2010, the WTAC invited the quickest machines from Japan and the USA to compete against Australia’s contingent for the quickest lap time at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway. The headline stories for the first two events revolved around the epic battles between Japan’s Cyber EVO and America’s Sierra-Sierra Enterprises EVO. Japan came out on top both times. In 2012, the Nemo Racing EVO took the competition by storm, shattering the old record by more than two seconds with a 1:25.02 lap time.
The Fourth Annual WTAC invitational was held on October 18-19 once again at Eastern Creek Raceway. The defending champion Nemo Racing was present, along with a strong contingent of Australian teams including MCA Suspension, Tilton Interiors, and Prepd Motorsports. The teams invited to compete from Japan included Scorch Racing, Top Fuel, RE Amemiya, Esprit and R Magic. No competitors from the USA were in attendance at this race.
Tall Hurdle To Clear
Tilton Interiors’ EVO, piloted by Garth Walden, established its dominance for this event early on as Walden set a new record on Friday with a 1:24.855 lap time. Topping this performance would prove quite a challenge for the field. The Auger Torque/Nemo Racing EVO driven by Warren Luff encountered challenges early on as the defending champion suffered blown head gaskets in both Thursday’s practice and in Friday’s time attack sessions. Off pace from its record setting lap from 2012, the Nemo Racing EVO stayed together long enough to make a best lap of 1:27.708. But this effort fell short of the new record. The MCA Suspension S13 Silvia piloted by Earl Bamber, which made its debut at the 2011 WTAC, has been getting progressively quicker and locked in the second quickest lap time with a 1:27.367.
Japan’s invited teams brought along well known hot shoes to pilot their entries in the competition. The quickest of the Pro Class Japanese drivers was Under Suzuki. Returning to Australia for the third time with his Scorch Racing S15, Suzuki further improved his lap time compared to last year, recording a 1:27.958. Unfortunately, this would land him in fourth place for the second year in a row. Super GT driver Nobuteru “NOB” Taniguchi drove both the Top Fuel S2000 and the RE Amemiya FD RX7 in the time attack, but his best efforts were still four and five seconds off pace from the Tilton Interiors record. Eiji “Tarzan” Yamada faced similar challenges behind the wheel of the Esprit NSX, finishing eighth overall. In the Pro Am Class, Atsushi Shimaya was the only Japanese driver in the field. He drove the R Magic FD RX7 to a best time of 1:33.555, which landed him in fifth place in the class and 19th place overall in the competition.
The World Time Attack Challenge is more than just a time attack event. It’s more of a motorsports event that caters to a broad audience. Mixed in with the time attack action, the judged spectacle of drifting was also held over the weekend. The International Drift Challenge contained a contingent of international driving talent that included Japan’s Daigo Saito, Tsutomu Fujio and Max Orido, along with New Zealand’s “Mad” Mike Whiddett. The field of 32 drivers battled through the eliminations, with the most consistent drivers, Saito and Whiddett, faced off in the finals. When the final battle was over, the top qualifying Saito stood at the top of the podium once again, affirming his status as one of the top drifters in the world.
As the books closed on WTAC 2013, many are already making plans for the 2014 event. As vehicle setups improve and drivers turn faster laps, its anyone’s guess who will stand at the top next year. Will Tilton Interiors successfully defend its title? Will Nemo Racing come back to reclaim the throne? Will Under Suzuki claim his first podium? Or, will a new contender overtake them all? Stay tuned.