Well what can I say, another WTAC in the bag, and what a year it was!
I guess to start with the biggest congratulations must go to Rod Pobestek, Barton Mawer and the whole RP 968 team on taking fastest outright and winning the Royal Purple Pro Class!
1.19.825. Before I go any further let that sink in for a few seconds.
To put this into perspective this is a mere 7 tenths off the outright lap record of 1.19.142 held by F1 ace Nico Hulkenberg in a Ferrari powered, Lola Zytec, A1GP open wheel car.
And to see that car go through turn one at full noise in a shower of sparks was a sight many will remember for a very long time
This car has always been one to watch, and for the past two years the team have been learning and whittling away at things before installing the bespoke 4-litre, 4 cylinder, full billet Elmer Racing engine from Finland. It is also worth noting the time was set on very moderate boost settings, giving only an indication of the possibilities that lies ahead.
A massive hats off to Rod Pobestek for having the vision and patience to create this insane machine, Barton Mawer who is unquestionably one of Australia’s most under rated drivers as this lap time clearly shows (he partly blames me for this time as I actually dared him he couldn’t go through turn one without backing off and he did it!), Sammy Diasonis the aero genius, Dijan Ninic, Richard Den Brinker and the whole PR Technology crew who worked tirelessly to make this all happen.
Two time champion MCA Suspension came in second with V8 Supercar Ace Warren Luff behind the tiller. “This year was a struggle for us” said MCA boss Murray Coote “We found more horsepower which equalled another 10km/h down the straight and unfortunately this bought on slight aero imbalance at that speed causing the car to porpoise.”
“With a couple of damp sessions thrown in, we simply did not have time to sort it out and give Luffy the car he deserved. Regardless we could only see a very low twenty anyway if everything was perfect so this year certainly belonged to the RP968 regardless and congrats to them. We now have to go and work out a plan for 2019!”
The Escort team from Japan were always going to be the under dogs. With their container delayed due to typhoons throughout Asia, they missed the practice day entirely, with the team unpacking on the Friday morning of the event putting them on the back foot from the outset. Still Fire Ando was keen to show what he was now packing. Unfortunately a medical condition with his hand forced him to the sidelines by Saturday morning. We put our heads together with Ando-san and put forward the idea of putting Under Suzuki in the car (who unfortunately failed to finish his new build S15 for this year’s event).
In a show of true Samurai spirit, Fire Ando gave us a big “LETS DO IT” and with grey skies looming the Escort team rallied to get the car ready for Suzuki in the next session. The crowd was on their feet as Suzuki stopped the clocks at 1.27.558 on his second ever lap in an unfamiliar car. What a show for team Japan! This is true time attack spirit and showed what true legends both Fire Ando and Under Suzuki are.
The Royal Purple Pro Am class was a class of extreme mixed emotions for me. Seeing Kosta Pohurakov crack the 25 barrier with a 1.24.63 was the stuff of dreams, taking the longstanding Pro Am record set by Sigsworth in the PMQ Evo back in 2014 was simply amazing. But what happened a couple of short hours later was absolutely heartbreaking. The Tilton Evo’s wheels just hit the grass on the outside of turn one, which unsettled the car and turned it around sending it headfirst into the wall.
I remember how Kosta was the very first guy that committed to build a car to compete, back in 2008 when I said I was going to do a Superlap event. We go back a very long way and he is not only a competitor but a dear friend. I was so relieved to be told at the front door of the medical centre “he will be ok” and Kosta himself assures me the only real damage is a badly bruised ego. Aside from this we had the biggest international Pro Am field ever.
With William Au Yeung returning from Canada with his wild Honda Civic, Olivia Merlini and Serse Zeli from Switzerland in a crazy carbon Evo X and Eddie Ng from Singapore in his stunning Mazda RX7 along with crowd favourite Dale Malone in the ex Nismo Super GT S15 the Pro Am class was certainly one to watch. The podium consisted of a very emotional and sore Kosta, William Au Yeung in second and Serse Zeli taking home third for the Europeans.
The Link ECU Open Class has seen some serious investment in the past year with many of the top teams upping the ante and the on track action did not disappoint. The usual suspects were always going to be hard to beat and the podium consisted of Adam Casmiri in the JDM Yard Honda, Josh Coote in the MCA Suspension Toyota 86 and Matt Longhurst in the Integrated Motorsport R34 GTR.
Had the weather not been so unkind there is no question the Open Class lap record would have been broken but many of these sessions were on a damp track making the lap times even more impressive. What really had the fans on their feet was the fact that Keiichi Tsuchiya was actually competing for the first time.
To see him in the Beau Yates built, Toyota backed AE86 was amazing, and what a work of art this car is. Stopping the clocks at a 1.35.7 is extremely impressive for a 30 year old car with very limited aero and a 62 year old gentleman driving. Tsuchiya-san is truly the essence of the tuning car culture and he had a crowd around him wherever he went.
There were several other notable overseas entries. R Performance shipped their Honda Integra all the way from Switzerland and stopped the clocks a 1.35.0. Tarzan Yamada was at the wheel of the Jun Hyper Lemon and Cole Powelson made it out from Utah USA to pilot the Topstage Composites S14.
With less than three seconds separating the top ten of the V-Sport Clubsprint Class it went right down to the wire with Brett Dickie stopping the clocks in the Elusive Racing Honda Integra with a 1.38.75 – a new record for Front wheel drive cars.
Following closely behind was Steven Wan with a 1.39.9 before a crash sidelined his campaign. Jimmy Tu followed closely behind in the EXE OTR Evo 9 out of Victoria.
This class continues to gain interest from both the grassroots and workshops and this year we had our first ever “semi works” entry by Hyundai with Street FX fielding an I30N driven by reigning Clubsprint champion Jordan Cox that caught everyone off guard with a 1.44.8 in a full weight street car with only minor mods. One can only wonder of the potential of a stripped out “proper build” version of this car and the team at Hyundai were extremely impressed with the whole show. Hopefully we may see a full “works” entry next year.
Commiserations to the Swiss team R Performance that bought their Clubsprint Honda Civic all the way from Europe only to lose an engine on Friday with no spare. Many locals offered to help with an engine but they decided to focus on their Open Class car instead and simply enjoy the atmosphere that is WTAC.
As the sun went down the International Drifting Cup presented by Garrett Advancing Motion promised to be the biggest thing in drifting in recent times, and apart from some unsavoury weather on the Saturday night we reckon it delivered in droves. The idea was to come up with a more spectator friendly, non-stop, action packed format based on WORLD CUP type events.
We bought in some of the hottest talent from around the globe including Naoki Nakamura, Nob Taniguchi and Drift Samurai from Japan, Jack and Conor Shanahan from Ireland, Fanga Dan, Carl Thompson, Jaron Olivecronia and Jase Brown from New Zealand and set them loose with the top guys from all over Australia.
In the end it was Japanese legend Naoki Nakamura that took the win. But the real thank you must go the thousands of fans that lined the circuit in horrible wet conditions to see it out. YOU GUYS ROCK. The hill was full with crowds right the way down the straight before the rain hit. These are the fans who let the whole world know that Australians still love the sport of drift!
Another special mention must go to the guys from HKS. Their container was also delayed and arrived the Friday morning of the event giving them zero time in the way of setup. Remember the TRB-03 was also never built to run at Sydney Motorsport Park it was built to break the record at the much smaller Tsukuba circuit where big horsepower is not so critical.
This car uses a heavily reworked version of the original FA-20 boxer engine – an engine never designed with ultra high performance in mind. Despite this Nob Taniguchi was able to pilot this amazing car to a high 1.26. the mind boggles at what this car would do with a big power engine. Taniguchi also did not disappoint in the International Drifting Cup finishing inside the top 8.
Also in the midday mayhem, the Turbosmart Flying 500 was won by the B2R Motorsport 1200hp Nissan GTR at a speed of 271kmh. We also had some cool demos from ex Superbike Champion Shawn Giles on the crazy Australian made 330hp V8 PGM motorcycle.
Rounding out this amazing show was the StylizeD show presented by the Downshift crew. This was their first year and they knocked it out of the park with a killer mix of cars from a variety of styles and a real ‘cool car culture’ feel to the whole event. This will only grow in years to come and we look forward to it.
Now the thank you’s.
In no particular order every single one of these people is a true rockstar that makes WTAC what it is.
My CFO and fixer of all disasters Inga Whitman, Racing & Operations Manager Linda Long, Marketing and Media Manager David Lysien, Clerk of Course Jess Nicholson, Technical Director Steve Stanley, Drift Operations Manager Dan Mackie, Race Director Jeff Boulous, Scott McGrath, CAMS, James Stewart and the entire Driving Solutions team, Brendan Whyte and the entire D1NZ crew, Commercial Director Bo Jones, our scrutineers Paul Brell and Michael Simpson, Adam and the whole Downshift crew,Livestream producer Matt Swaab and the team from AVE, all of our announcers and presenters, Joel Strickland, Ash Minikin, Amanda Salmon, Gary O’Brien, Dave Oliver and George Hitchins from the Marketing crew, and everyone else who helped make this event what it is.
All of our partners, sponsors and exhibitors who make this event possible.
All of our volunteers, flag marshals and officials.
All of our competitors that traveled from around the world to party with us.
But most of all THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR FANS THAT WERE AT THE CIRCUIT OR WATCHING FROM AROUND THE WORLD. YOU ARE THE REASON WE DO THIS EVERY YEAR!
See you all again at the track in 2019!
Ian Baker – CEO, Superlap Australia Pty Ltd