Time attack isn’t like other forms of motorsport. There is no qualifying, no pre-race grid line-up, and it isn’t to see who will get to the chequered flag first. Instead, it is a test of precision and accuracy, where even the slightest difference in lap time on track will count for so much more off of it. It may even be an off track battle more so than an on track one, though that doesn’t mean that race day doesn’t contain just as much excitement and drama – it delivers more. Teams eye each other off in pitlane, wondering when the others will make their move or if they’re bluffing. Nobody knows if or when a car will come from out of the blue and seal the win. It is a game that is played on the mind that determines the car with the lowest time. And that’s exactly what happened on Day 2 of the 2011 World Time Attack Challenge. Right from the start, the atmosphere had changed from Day 1 – the stakes now seemed much higher and the seriousness that hung over the garages had reached a whole new level. The final fight for the top spot had begun.
The first Pro class session of the day kicked off and many were already pushing hard to lock in a good time, with the threat of bad weather conditions playing a huge role in the way the day was going to pan out for all of the teams. Maybe Mark Berry was pushing just a little bit hard for the beginning of the day, sliding off the track and in to the gravel at turn 12.
David Empringham hit the nail on the head with setup for Day 2, proving that he had what it took (and some) to vie for first position, even so early in the day with a 1:29.0240 as well as clocking almost 300km/h on the main straight!
Meanwhile in the pits, other distractions were drawing everyone’s attention away from the track…
…including James Anderson’s S15 from the Open class as well as these lovely ladies.
Sasaki-san’s engineer listened closely to his comments on the Panspeed RX-7s behaviour…
…while Suzuki-san helps clean up some of the rubber that stuck to the inside of his S15s guards, that just might make that little difference out on track. Throughout the day he could be seen helping his crew members in the garage. As a privateer with a smaller budget than the bigger teams, it was great to see him lending a hand wherever he could. It almost mirrored a grassroots track day!
Garth Walden in the Tilton Interiors Evo was pushing harder than ever after a long Day 1 representing the Australian time attack scene and was heading closer and closer to the top of the tree.
The first session of the Open class for the day saw the sun peek from behind the clouds and raised the hopes of those in the pits who were looking for the sunshine that had lit the track for the last two days.
All of the teams hastily made changes to their cars throughout the sessions to extract the most that they could.
The second Pro class session raised the bar even higher with warming track conditions aiding in the cars achieving slightly lower times. The clock was ticking and everybody seized the opportunity that the heavens had bestowed for a short while by making dramatic changes and hoping for the best. All I could hear as the cars were braking in to the corners was the splitters on the tarmac and all I could see were the sparks that immediately followed from the rear. You could just tell that it was on!
The lunchtime entertainment of the day included a healthy dose of the Pac Racing MX-6 doing the rounds through the pits and deafening anyone within a 50 metre radius.
The big news of the day and of the weekend was a bit of biffo between the two main contenders for the title: Sierra Sierra and Cyber Evo. The Cyber Evo team had supposedly made accusations that Sierra Sierra were using nitrous! They were genuinely scratching their heads at the seemingly unreal speeds that Empringham was achieving on the main straight. I don’t know anyone who was not surprised by such a bold accusation, but Sierra Sierra swept it aside by inviting their rivals to inspect their car. Nobody came…
Despite the controversy, Kinoshita was concentrating on the win in the Garage Revolution RX-7, managing a 1:30.5010 which left him in second spot for 2011.
It was a difficult day for Team Sierra Sierra…
Meanwhile, Team Cyber Evo got on with the job and smashed out an amazing 1:28.8510, almost a full 2 seconds faster than their 2010-winning time! Everyone around the track just knew how fast Tarzan was pushing as the track started to cool and just moments before the rain started to come down. Even I could tell that the Evo was at the brink of adhesion as the front splitter violently slapped the track through Turn 4!
Takizawa-san, owner of the Cyber Evo, couldn’t be happier, posing in front of his pride and joy for a few media shots.
“Under” Suzuki-san also showed disappointment with an overall time of 1:31.4560 for the weekend, though it was definitely a valiant effort for the Scorch Racing Team for their first time out to Eastern Creek.
Team Garage Revolution kept trying to punch out better times up until the last session of the day, but to no avail.
The podium marked the end of the day and the end to the World Time Attack Challenge for 2011.
After the controversy of the weekend, David Empringham accepted the 2nd place trophy. Hopefully 2012 will be a better outcome for Sierra Sierra.
But Kinoshita-san was very happy to collect third place and maybe even a girlfriend to take home to Japan with him!
It was all champers and cheers for the podium, hopefully putting the past behind them and gearing up for next year in 2012!
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