Track action has kicked off in a big way this morning at the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge 2019. Day one has not been without its fair share of drama so far.
Lap records are within reach, but as always reliability and bravery will be key as teams work to dial in their setups and extract maximum performance from car and driver today and tomorrow.
ROYAL PURPLE PRO CLASS
Barton Mawer in the RP968 Porsche 968 came out swinging with a 1:20.411 on his first flying lap, scarcely more than half a second away from his winning time and the existing class record set last year. This car is one to watch once again, having received wholesale development since becoming the first car to dip into the 1:19s at WTAC. However, testing has been limited for the car’s new setup, and anything could happen.
Andre Heimgartner in the MCA Hammerhead Nissan S13 Silvia put in a successful opening salvo with a 1:22.662 for his initial flying lap. Promising signs from the V8 Supercars ace, who is making his time attack debut with the hugely experienced MCA team. Hammerhead has history here, having won outright in 2017 with Tim Slade at the wheel.
Alx Danielsson in the Revline Racing Porsche 968 GT1 is also running in the sub-1:30 bracket, with a best of 1:25.616 so far. The former Formula 1 test driver has never driven at this circuit before but is getting his eye in quickly. We’ve seen him pushing track limits through Amaando Corner and dropping the Porsche’s outside wheels into the dirt, but the car is holding together well and looks competitive.
Some Pro Class cars are yet to run, so there is plenty of quick action still to come.
1. Barton Mawer – 1:20.411 – RP968 Porsche 968
2. Andre Heimgartner – 1:22.662 – MCA Hammerhead Nissan S13 Silvia
3. Alx Danielsson – 1:25.616 – Revline Racing Porsche 968 GT1
4. Cole Powelson – 1:30.064 – LYFE Motorsport Nissan R35 GT-R
HI-OCTANE DIRECT PRO AM CLASS
Kosta Pohorukov in the Tilton Evo topped the mornings outings in Pro Am, though he remains four seconds off his PB and the class record from 2018. The Tilton team chalked up an 1:28.749 before rumoured fuelling issues triggered a breakdown and a red flag in the first session while the car was towed back to its garage.
The all-new Tilton car was pursued by Finn Sami Sivonen, who put down a best of 1:28.178. His wild R8 features extreme aero and was rebuilt at the track following a high-speed suspension failure during Wednesday practice.
Richard Perini clocked a 1:31.436 to post third fastest for the morning’s Pro Am action. The G55 Ginetta looked composed and purposeful as the team got a taste for the conditions, looking like the best was yet to come.
Switching from drift to grip, American entrant Rob ‘Chairslayer’ Parson’s WTAC debut saw him lay down an impressive 1:36.049 in the double duty LYFE Motorsport GTR.
“It’s a whole other level. I am processing a ton of information, trying to chip away at turn one corner speed. I’ve found a good line so we’re trying to see how much the car can take.”
1. Kostinken Pohurokov – 1:28.749 – Tilton Racing Mitsubishi Evolution
2. Sami Sivonen – 1:29.178 – R8 1:1 Audi R8
3. Richard Perini – 1:31.436 – 991 Racing/PR Technology Ginetta G55
4. Kunihoko Bando – 1:31.611 – B-Active Racing Toyota Soarer
5. Gustaf Burström – 1:32.269 – Revline Racing Porsche 968 GT1
GCG OPEN CLASS
Brad Shiels in the XTREME GT-R Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R leads the way in Open Class. This car is an absolute showstopper on and off the track with immaculate carbon-fibre dominating its high-end presentation. Its performance is equally stunning, with Brad telling us the RB28 has up to 1200hp available if the team want to dial it up. So far it is setting the pace with a 1:28.219, though Brad says that was done with ‘just’ 900hp. The team was disappointed to miss the first session of the day on a cool track, but are happy with the car’s setup, though Brad admits there is room for him to improve on his best lap so far.
Matt Longhurst sits a very close second in the Integrated Motorsport R34, but it hasn’t been all smooth running. A big moment at Amaando Corner saw the blue Skyline GT-R take a high-speed off-track excursion through the grass, and escape without damage. Matt has put in a good number of laps, and the R34 looks rock-solid and sounds epic down the main straight of Sydney Motorsport Park with a current best of 1:28.736.
Rob Nguyen is hot on Matt’s heels in the Dream Projects Australia Nissan S15 Silvia. This car is being described as the ‘Nemo of Open Class’. Dedicated WTAC fans will remember the game-changing Nemo Mitsubishi Evo from a few years ago, and this S15 has been prepared to meet the exact limits of the Open Class rulebook in a similar fashion. It has already stirred up plenty of discussion and controversy in the pits.
Currently in fourth is Nicholas Bates in the phenomenal V-Sport Toyota 86 powered by a VK56DE V8 engine from Nissan. This car is a serious performer and is certain to continue vying for a podium finish.
Fifth place at the moment is occupied by WBT Racing, and this team should not be discounted as a serious contender. Their Nissan R33 Skyline GTS-T is absolutely brimming with the best of the best in terms of componentry and expertise, and could well be within striking distance of a lap record before the weekend is out.
Driver Steven Johnson said, “The car only left QLD on Wednesday, and I only drove it for the first time yesterday. It should be performing much better than it is, to be honest, so we’ve got work to do to get everything working as we want it for the first couple of runs tomorrow morning.”
Further down the field, crowd favourites Keiichi Tsuchiya and Tarzan Yamada are going head to head. Tsuchiya has bragging rights – for now – in the BDY Motorsport Toyota AE86 Corolla with a best of 1:34.849 (almost a second quicker than last year), but Yamada is immediately behind him in the standings in the Car Mods Australia Subaru WRX STi on 1:35.496. Keep a close eye on these two.
1. Brad Shiels – 1:28.219 – XTREME GT-R Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R
2. Matt Longhurst – 1:28.736 – Integrated Motorsport Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R
3. Rob Nguyen – 1:29.174 – Dream Projects Australia Nissan S15 Silvia
4. Nicholas Bates – 1:30.949 – V-Sport Toyota 86
5. Steven Johnson – 1:31.047 – WBT Racing – Nissan R33 Skyline GTS-T
HALTECH CLUBSPRINT CLASS
In a packed Clubsprint Class Brett Dickie ran a commanding first session logging a 1:38.824, a hair from his 2018 class-winning 1:38.756. For the Elusive Racing team’s second WTAC outing, the 380kW turbocharged Honda DC2 Integra now sports a bespoke CNC head, dry sump lubrication and a new Emtron traction control system to put down as much of the power as the Yokohama AD08 tyres will allow.
“We already beat last years time in practice.” said Dickie. It’s our second year, but we have 12 months of telemetry and development in the car.”
Fresh from an SA Time Attack Clubsprint win in September Ben Schoots buzzed the front straight with the patent whine of a Harrop supercharger, piloting the white Toyota 86 to earn a 1:39.695.
Holding third is lap-obsessed Sydney circuit veteran Nik ‘Spartan’ Kalis. Running a fast 1:39.929 in his distinctive Evolution X, the early result is made all the more special by the fact it was driven on the street to the circuit.
Hyundai is also turning heads with an awesome pit display and two competitors in Haltech Clubsprint Class, including a modified i30 N Fastback and the outrageous iMax N #DriftBus.
The Clubsprint class record of 1:36.839 looks safe for the time being, as teams return to their pits to wind up the wick and resume hostilities for the afternoon. If you’re not at the track, you need to be.
1. Brett Dickie – 1:38.824 – Elusive Racing Honda Integra
2. Ben Schoots – 1:39.695 – Harrop Engineering Toyota 86
3. Nik Kalis – 1:39.929 – Metropole Mitsubishi Evolution X
4. Trent Grubel – 1:39.949 -DC Jap Automotive Subaru WRX STi
5. Stephen Wan – 1:40.478 – BYP Racing Honda Civic