My second time back at the World Time Attack Challenge held in Sydney Australia, was nothing short of amazing. As 2017 rolled out in the beginning of the year, the Time Attack events worldwide, including home base USA was already big. Knowing that cars were being built, changed, or just getting out there chasing records, it was surely a great year. Fast forward to my decision to leave for #wtac again was hard since many major events around the same date and the following weeks would take place. So the budget was only good for one event, and after evaluating the choices I jumped on the plane and headed down under to join the buzz again that makes the World Time Attack Challenge that Great.
Day 1 was already an eye-opener as I grazed the paddock, to my left upon entering a huge lineup of Drift Machines from the likes of Daigo Saito, Mad Mike Whiddett, and locals like Luke Fink and too many to remember. What some may not know, is that after a full day of Time Attack, the action doesn’t stop there. If you have the feet, and the energy the Drifting starts after all the Time Attack Cars are done. Which is quite spectacular if you want a full fledged event that has it all. I for one couldn’t muster enough strength to continue like I did last year. But back to what I came for, I continued through the Vendor Row, and Turbo Garrett, Link ECU, Haltech ECU, Bullet Race Engineering, etc. were all lined up and could be found back to back ready for the days ahead. I started snapping away at the pit garages and found some familiar cars from last year, and of course some new ones I’ve never seen. As the norm, it was likely the Pro Class, Open Class, and Pro-AM Classes that would be the talk of the event. Coming from all over the world you had a huge representation as always from Japan like returning Mad Man Under Suzuki and his S15, followed by Tetsuhiro with the most beautifully executed RX7 FD in Time Attack I have ever seen to date, and Ando-San with an amazing Voltex Everywhere EVO. From the other side of the World you had Andy Forest from Scotland who debuted his very nicely done Subaru WRX, a car with styling done well by AMB Aero. From Finland you had Sami Sivonen and his fast ass R8 (more on that later), and Miika Toivanen with his Legendary Lotus Exige who happens to be a friend I met a year ago in a Uber ride in Los Angeles. But lastly hailing from North America, Canada to be exact, friend and strong Time Attack Competitor William Au-Yeung of PZ Tuning made the trek across the pond and into the Jungle of Sydney Motorsports Park. As always, it’s good to see familiar faces when going somewhere, and joining him was his family, teammates Alex Vongnhay and the Legendary Mike Warfield. The Vibrant Performance Honda Civic surely fitted in with all the wings and aero protruding cars around, it was this moment that I realized I was part of history being made.
Not to be forgotten, the car line up didn’t end. My eyes were on Tim Slade and the MCA Suspension Hammerhead S13, since he took top honors and the overall record last year at a 1:22.1920, I was keen on seeing what the team was going to do this year. Of course returning Barton Mawer and his Porsche RP968 that just shouts technical engineering everywhere was also on the hunt for that one lap. In Pro-Am Rob Nguyen with the Mighty Mouse 101 Motorsport Honda CRX defending his place against 4 other competitors in his class, was the one to beat. Our friend William was going for Gold on a track that he never set foot on, or raced for that matter. But the story unfolded quickly and excitedly, as each session came through. One right after the other times kept changing and dropping, with all eyes on either the top 3 of Pro Class or Pro-Am Class that everyone was waiting who would edge out who. In the end after some exhibition runs from some Motorsports Racing Legends, and a few drag races in between. The final came down in the Pro Class with Under Suzuki beating his PB and landing a 1:21.7960 followed by Barton Mawer with a 1:21.4850, and edging them all out was Tim Slade again taking the 80’s Nissan S13 to a blistering 1:20.9710! But Pro-Am had also a nice plot twist to add to this experience, not knowing from my point of view since I was out on the track, one of the last sessions of the day I saw coming down after turn 8 was that beautiful Audi R8 being paced next to Rob’s Mighty Mouse Honda CRX slowly creeping close to each other, and after the final hairpin turn they lined up on the top of the straight and wheel to wheel went for a drag racing battle that left the CRX in the dust which was the only win the Fat Cat got that day. In their class after much anticipation William and the Vibrant Honda Civic was getting quicker and faster per session, but not enough to take the overall trophy, and the Mighty Mouse ended up winning with a 1:26.2760 final followed by Williams 1:28.4730, and last but not least Sami’s R8 with a 1:29.1900. Also in the Open Class category Adam Casmiri and the JDM Yard/ Hardrace Honda Civic was out for blood, after a 6th place result in 2016, they chased down the days and ended up winning 1st Place in their class with a 1:27.5620, followed by a 1:28.3010 in the Global Aircraft Services Mitsubishi EVO 9 driven by Nathan Morcom, and Matt Longhurst busting out a 1:28.4500 with one of the most beautifully executed Nissan R34’s I’ve ever seen.
Although the World Time Attack experience didn’t just end there, with so much more to see, like the car show, and eyeing bad ass daily cars in the parking lots which by the way is damn quite interesting. This year they brought 3 important cars to see that I have never seen in person, and one of my reasons for making it to this event. One was to see the Legendary Mazda 767B which not to be confused with the winning 24hr Lemans 787B which I have a date next year to find and capture, but this car came out with it’s 4-rotor heart and legendary renown green orange livery. After firing up and taking the track one lap at a time, I snapped a few shots, and decided to put the camera down to watch and listen to this amazing machine. The second was one of my idols Keiichi Tsuchiya, who flew his personal Track Prepped AE86 to toss around the track and to top it off, was a car I remembered from a long time ago watching Option Videos on VHS and seeing it on Option Magazines I had to search and find for in J-Town Los Angeles. After so long, probably about 15 years Aidan Barett of Rotatn Mazda brought out the JGTC RE Amemiya RX7 which was not only aged, but surely looked damn well good. They fired her up and this beast did some laps back to back with another JGTC Nissan Silvia S15 I saw from last year. But finally a dream come true for me, seeing JGTC cars battle in front of me, even if it was just an exhibition, I took it all in and just enjoyed this once in a lifetime opportunity. For me I have to say this one definitely topped last years, since the records fell again, and most importantly being there to witness a familiar Driver William and his team coming all the way from North America with his Vibrant Honda Civic take on the World. Till next time, enjoy the rest of the story in these photos…. -Rommel Estrada #timeattackforever