They say that motor racing will bring out the real character in you, with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows all part of the experience, and no doubt the guys at team Tilton will remember this for many years to come.
Despite running perfectly before being packed in the container, the car developed a misfire as soon as it hit the track in Japan and the team spent all Thursday afternoon trying to find the problem. However they still managed to get off to a good start with a stout 54.9 second pass on “moderate boost” and old tyres during a shakedown session. This was certainly a very good starting point as anything under 55 seconds is considered seriously “elite” and they were really only “feeling out the track” so no doubt the anticipation was enormous until they discovered they had destroyed the engine over the finish line. This was certainly was not going to be a walk in the park!
Shortly afterwards the car was towed to Unlimited Works, the guys that so famously supported the Cyber Evo on its two WTAC victories, where Kazu-san and his crew graciously opened the shop to the team. The Tilton Interiors crew spent all day Friday preparing and installing the spare engine finishing at late Friday at 10pm ready for the trip back to Tsukuba in the morning with their eyes firmly on the record.
“The Unlimited works guys are just the best” said team principle Kostinken Pohurukov “We could not have done this without them. They would go out of their way to make sure we were back at the track even staying back late into the evening and were happy to share any secrets that had learnt from years of racing Evos. It was an absolute honor to work with these guys”
The team arrived at the circuit at 6am on Saturday to find the track wet, but were still very eager to get on track and test the engine and systems after the overnight change. A few sighting laps were completed before driver Garth Walden entered the pit lane and gave the “thumbs up” to the anxious crew standing on the pit wall. The car was retired to the garage where a brand new set of soft Yokohama AO50s were fitted ready for the 11.30am session on the rapidly drying track.
The car made its way out onto the track for one warm up lap and then one flying “attack lap” on medium boost before turning the boost right up for the final session. As the car came down the back straight after the warm up lap the engine stopped and oil smoke poured from the hood as the car rolled into pit lane. The team was amazed to see the intake cam gear sitting loosely in engine bay with the end of the camshaft having sheared clean off. Once again the car was retired to the garage where the team worked frantically for the afternoon replacing the whole cylinder head and ensuring the car was ready to race the following day. Clearly luck was challenging them every step of the way but the guys were not going to let it get the better of them. After all they had already gone faster than any foreign time attack car ever had before at Tsukuba by several seconds and there was still so much more to come.
The team arrived on Sunday morning at 6 am with the track damp once again but Garth Walden wasted no time in laying down a 56 second lap on a very moderate 22psi boost despite the wet track at 9.30am. Things were looking very promising indeed as the team gathered for the 11am parade lap which was a perfect time to test the “high boost” setting they were planning on using that afternoon. The engineers also analyzed the data and determined that more frontal down force was in order so the Voltex boys got to work modifying the front under tray to achieve the desired result.
2.30pm comes around and the team was rearing to go with everything set on KILL and a fresh set of Ao50s mounted up for the final session. Onto the main straight and the car was absolutely singing for the flying lap. Sparks flying from under the car as the Voltex aero rubed the track on every turn. By the time the car exited the second last corner the dash revealed that the time was already 1.5 seconds up on the 54.9 in sector times, then “POP” and all boost was lost. A hose had split and the car idled back into the pits with frustration now reaching fever pitch. Back in the pits the team worked frantically to fix the hose. As the grey clouds rolled in the session finished, but the promoter agreed to let the Evo have one more run after the scheduled 86 one make race and rally car demo at 3pm. As the rally cars exited the track the clouds opened up and the rain bucketed down putting an end to any chance the team had of resetting any record.
“It was still an experience I will never forget” said Kosta “We will be back in December, we want that record BAD. But first the car will go down to Voltex to get ready for WTAC. We take this stuff very seriously and you can rest assured we want to be the fastest in the world full stop!”
Driver Garth Walden was equally optimistic about the teams future “My overall experience was still awesome, to be there driving around Tsukuba was something special, and all the support from the Japanese people was very overwhelming and we look forward to our return. A big big thank you to Kosta for making all this happen and our fantastic team for all their efforts and the never give up attitude well done guys.”
The team would like to thank the following companies for their ongoing support:
And also Aussie expat Ross Wilson from AVO for rushing over with some cold Aussie beer for the team at the end of the day!