You know when Spring hits in October, it’s officially time attack season. The World Time Attack Challenge (WTAC) comes to Australia. Many have broken records, broken hearts, broken parts, and lighter wallets to show as the badge born of this spectacle of speed. Those of you familiar with Time Attack may know some of the names, faces, and machines. WTAC is a sensual feast in person, but it’s more pragmatically viewed from the convenience & affordability of your YouTube account.
To truly behold the engineering marvel of what people are doing with these machines, you must consider all of the cars started as production-based vehicles. Many of them were born with the ultimate goal of ambulating from point A to point B in a manner slightly more exciting than public transportation. The Royal Purple Open Class competitors’ level of commitment in the creation and piloting of these machines borders with society’s outliers or fringe horsepower lunatics, lusting for $20,000 sequential gearboxes and even more priceless billet bespoke power-plants, hatched from wild-eyed engineers.
Time Attack originated in Japan on the Tsukuba Circuit as a proving ground for tuning workshops. Sydney Motorsport Park in Australia now plays host to the World Time Attack Challenge annually. The inaugural year, 2010, played host to the likes of entries from Sierra-Sierra, CyberEvo, and Cusco, to name a few luminaries. Time Attack has caught the attention of enthusiasts around the world, and the WTAC boasts the Pro Record falling each year. 2019 was no different, as evidenced by the YouTube live stream.
WTAC 2019: Day One
Pro Class: Day One
The excitement was palpable with the return of the Garth Walden-piloted, Tilton Interiors, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, and the long-awaited return of the sentimental-crowd-favorite Scorch Racing S15 piloted by Tomohiko “Under” Suzuki. The PR Technologies-built Porsche, the RP968, is the returning champion with last year’s blistering 1:19.8250. That is spitting distance from Nico Hulkenberg’s overall record on the Gardner Circuit of 1:19.1420.
This crazy lap time, set last year, really put the monkey on Barton Mawer’s back to bring the RP968 Porsche across the line with a flier lap in a tin-topped (er, carbon) grocery hauler to equal or best an open-wheel works formula car. When pressed on the difficulties of building and developing such a beast, Rod Pobestek, the owner of the RP968, shared some insight into the trinity of Time Attack. “Time, money, and expertise, it only ever seems to be a balancing act — you never have enough of any of them,” he said. “You can compensate them a bit with each other .” No truer statement has been uttered within earshot of a racing paddock.
While it appears Garth Walden is breaking ground for all-wheel-drive in the Tilton Interiors Evo, he slipped under the 1:24 mark for 1:23.856, which is the best time an AWD car has ever posted during this event. This was only enough for a Third-place finish in the Pro Class.
The MCA Hammerhead S13 Silvia was circling the Gardner Circuit in hopes of the top spot on the podium with a sanitary flyer run; Andre Heimgartner reeled in a 1:21.867. It’s apparent you don’t need four driven wheels with massively boosted billet blocks and more aerodynamic devices than a 15-year-old airplane to keep traction. It’s a testament to the aerodynamicists’ and tire manufacturer’s talents.
WTAC 2019: Day Two
Pro Class: Day Two
Day two came with all of the previously mentioned doubts and expectations coupled with weather worries. In the first session of the day, Barton Mawer came out on the tail of a Tilton Evo flying lap with the scream of his Elmer Racing Thor 4.0L inline-four. The 968 looked composed whilst wielding the air, track-cleanup dust drafted in a rooster tail behind this beast — you could almost see the atmospheric wake. What a way to start the day, 1:19.277!
The air that day didn’t offer enough room to shave .135 seconds from its lap, but Rod Pobestek remained resolute. “With a race car, there is always more time in it,” he said. “We didn’t have any testing at all this year; we just ran a few laps the day before. The record started as a dream, really, so it’s a bit frustrating to know it is in reach. We had a lot of traction issues this year, but the suspension is always a delicate balance with this much downforce.”
Six hours into the live stream of day two, we were enlightened by a first-person account as to the reason for Under Suzuki’s absence caused by a rough-looking loop-out at straightaway speed. Even after Toshi Hamaya’s translation, the cause seems unclear beyond the wreckage of one ventilated Bullet SR20 billet block, a transmission smashed by a driveshaft, and a likely bent frame. Suzuki’s crash saddened many a keyboard racer. The freshened Scorch S15’s return was heavily anticipated. Victory without adversity tempers sweet with savory.
The rest of the Royal Purple Pro class was rounded out by Alx Danielsson. The Swedish Revline Time Attack team’s Porsche 968 turned a 1:25.616, but unfortunately, suffered a cracked engine block in the process. The lone American, Cole Powelson, managed a 1:30.023 piloting the Lyfe R35 GTR.
What the Future Holds
The trends in WTAC are becoming more noticeable as the times drop. The budgets climb, the use of exotic materials, billet blocks, and outlandish aerodynamics seem to lead the podium, albeit with smaller entry numbers. Two-wheel drive is no longer a handicap with proper tire technology, mechanical grip from superior chassis design, and the aforementioned aero. Soon, we’ll witness a tin-topped, production-based car gobble up the overall track record. 2020 sounds exciting.