The fastest Australian team were the Tilton Interiors with their Mitsubishi Evo 9 driven by Garth Walden. With a new Australian record of 1:30.8660, the Tilton team ended up in the 4th place overall, only 3/10ths of a second behind the much favoured Garage Revolution RX-7.
This is a huge achievement for the team and indeed for the Australian time attack scene, proving that Aussie teams can mix it up and even better (Tilton Evo was faster than both Panspeed RX-7 and Scorch S15) international teams.
We caught up with the driver Garth Walden who gave us a detailed run-down on the event.
After the boys finished with the car on the dyno at 5:30am Thursday morning, we ended the day in a reasonable shape, despite power steering issues and turbo manifold problems, we still managed a 1:33:20 lap.
Another long night for the team, finishing at 2am just trying to give the car the best chance we could. We went out and put down a 1:32:40 breaking the 4th gear on the fast lap. After changing the gearbox, we ended up running the 3rd session on old rubber just to test the gearbox, as the track temperature was too hot. With all systems good we were pumped for the last session. I had been working a lot with my two engineers (Louie & Robbo) on our centre diff to make the car turn on the slow stuff. The car was already quite good on high speed corners due the our new Voltex aero kit. We ran a 1:31:80 and blew the head gasket. We were happy with the time, though we knew there was more in it.
Once again another long night for the team finishing at 4am, after changing the head gasket, turbo studs, oil change. The boys were pumped and so was I. We made a lot of aero changes overnight; front, rear and side to try and get that little extra grip.
Saturday morning session we melted a power cable which shut the engine off in turn one on the flyer. Run two was a massive 1:30:86 even with my mistake at turn 12, just that one corner costing me 8 tenths! I was dirty with myself knowing the team gave me the best car they could. We were still suffering from boost problems and not being able to get enough as it kept bleeding off and the boys had to change the whole fuel system for it to keep up fuel pressure.
The third session is where the tables turned for team Tilton and in a bad way, after the session was red flagged when I was half way through my flyer due to car being stopped on track we had another head gasket blow and had engine ECU issues which would cut the engine out. I came in, the team went to work once again, after rifling the head bolts down, changing ECUs and giving it some extra boost they sent me on my way before the session ended with words from Kosta: “This is our last chance give it all ya got. Forget about the engine and the car we can fix it”
So off I went and half way through my warm up lap it started to sprinkle rain so had to hurry up and use up some of the tyre to get around before it came down more. I’m still unsure just how much boost they gave me but for the first time the car felt really alive, moving much better than before. Unfortunately the feeling was short-lived as coming out of turn 9, 1.1 seconds up, the gearbox broke, (our third one this week) effectively destroying our chances of a podium finish.
I would like to give a big thank you to Kosta and my whole team for an amazing effort to put the car where we did and for what was one of the most memorable team effort motor racing experiences of my life. Not only do I have an awesome team and owner they are also my best mates!