Day 1 of the 2011 World Time Attack Challenge confirmed the discussion that had been developing during the off-season since 2010. Teams and their suspicions of the paddock came to reality as the potential of the 2011 field was uncovered. Many of the international frontrunners, such as Cyber Evo and Sierra Sierra returned to continue the feud that had been brewing for well over a year, not to mention the equally-strong Panspeed RX-7 driven by Kouta Sasaki. But the new contenders on the time attack map, from “Under” Suzuki’s Scorch Racing S15 to Mitsuhiro Kinoshita and the Garage Revolution RX-7 made the journey from across the globe in an effort to steal the crown from the title defender, Tarzan Yamada. However, nobody could forget the key Australians who represented Down Under – Mark Berry’s Advan/Hi Octane R34 GTR, a crowd favourite and recognisable name in the Australian time attack scene, as well as the Mercury Racing R35 GTR with its all-carbon fibre body, which was completed just in time for competition at WTAC. But also waving the flag for Australia were the Pulse Racing Evo, the Tilton Interiors Evo and Earl Bamber’s S13 likewise being strong contenders for the top spot. And with so many cars being able to vie for first place like never before, it was going to be one weekend not to be missed.
The Scorch Racing team were ready to attack Day 1 after a gearbox drama during Thursday practice, rolling out their car for another day of racing and tuning.
Susuki-San was definitely pumped up to give his car a good run for the day. I’ve never seen a driver so happy and cheerful. Everytime I see him, he has a smile on his face or is conversing with his many fans in the pits, despite it being his first visit to Australia.
Mark Berry circulated the track to gauge the early morning conditions and get a feel for his new car. With aerodynamics playing a major part in time attack racing and at Eastern Creek, the new aero and suspension additions to the R34 will definitely become advantageous, with a 1:32.3630 posted in the first session.
Meanwhile, Anthony Soole was giving it his best in his RS Focus as the Clubsprint class came out for the first session of the weekend.
As Steve Ka’s R34 GTR was ripping around after vigorous testing at Eastern Creek before WTAC.
With quite a limited power in the RX-7, Panspeed were making changes throughout the day to counteract this problem. Teams such as Sierra Sierra were reaching speeds in excess of 290km/h on the main straight, however Panspeed were not getting near this level.
Their slower speeds on the straights compared to the other teams meant that they had to rely on their car’s cornering prowess to make up for this loss.
Thus their suspension geometry and settings were of utmost importance and these changes needed to be as precise as possible to gain every last amount of speed from the car.
However, it was hard to stay focused on the job with so much excitement and commotion happening in and around the garages. From the media covering the features off the track…
…to the drama on track. In session 2 of the day, the GT Auto Garage/HKS R35 suffered from an engine fire, momentarily stopping the on track action as well as adding to the efforts of the fire and team’s crew.
It seemed like nobody could escape the drama that was unfolding around them. Stress was a factor that not many people accounted for, but many were subject to.
Even Tarzan was keen on keeping up on what the other teams were doing and their progress compared to his own.
I honestly didn’t think that Matt Plowman’s Lotus Exige was running the Clubsprint class with the sound that it was making and the way that it was pulling around the Creek.
I don’t know who this guy was, but I always saw him working on the Panspeed RX-7…
…which might explain why it was so fast coming around the sweeper called turn 8.
Here’s some love for the Honda boys out there, with the 101 Motorsports CRX. One of the only Hondas in the whole event, unofrtunately without the JDM Concept/ J’s Racing DC5 or the Insight EG competing this year. Man, was this thing loud, plus it was posting great times for such a diminutive car.
More Honda love in the Insight Motorsports S2000 driven by none other than John Boston.
With the majority of the Pro class field using Evos, the Tilton Interiors team needed to progress in leaps and bounds to ensure that they could out-drive and out-engineer the other teams. They ended their second session with a 1:30.8660, which was just shy of Tarzan Yamada’s winning time from 2010.
The only S15 in the Pro class, Suzuki-San’s Scorch Racing S15 performed well on the first day of competition for his first visit to Eastern Creek. With such an extraordinary time of 55.325 posted at Tsukuba Circuit, it looked very promising for Suzuki-San with a 1:32.4250.
The Cyber Evo trundles down pitlane before unleashing turbo hell at pit exit, running a 1:30.3690 by the end of the day and smashing the 2010 record.
The setting sun made great shooting conditions!
Like this one of the Harding Performance Golf coming out of the turn 9 hairpin.
As the day drew to a close, the teams made some last minute changes to the cars to try their luck with the changing conditions. Here, Earl Bamber’s team analyses his car and his comments before sending him out once more.
Cooling temperatures and an empty track for Panspeed as Sasaki-San spits flames from his RX-7 heading through turn 1 in the setting sun.
Everybody headed back to their garages and the cars were rolled back onto their trailers for another early start.
Be sure to stay tuned for all of the on and off track action from Day 2 of WTAC 2011!
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