The attendees of the Top Gear Festival were treated to some time attack action this year with the Royal Purple Oil stars out to show the general public what the time attack racing is all about.
The headline act for the time attack fans however was the Tilton Interiors Evo who took part in one of the most entertaining parts of the show – The Ultimate Speed Showdown.
[pullquote]Only a handful of drivers in the world can put
“Raced against a Formula 1 car” on their resume.[/pullquote]
Only a handful of drivers in the world can put “Raced against a Formula 1 car” on their resume. As of last weekend, Garth Walden and the Tilton Interiors time attack team are part of that exclusive club, having raced head to head against the likes of the Erebus Motorsport Mercedes Benz V8 Supercar and SLS AMG GT3 car, a Ducati Superbike, a WRC rally car and the Red Bull RB7 Formula 1 car.
One thing we need to make very clear right from the start: this was a “demonstration” race. With very relaxed rules and a staggered start the focus was more on showcasing the cars’ race track capabilities and comparing them to a benchmark set by the F1 car rather than aggressive, all-out racing. This said, it was clear the drivers took it rather seriously with Troy Bayliss publicly announcing he “wasn’t going to do anyone any favours”.
The starting order was determined by “one-on-one” races held throughout the day so the slower cars were given a head start with the faster ones doing the chasing. First off the mark was Neal Bates in a Toyota Corolla WRC rally car with Troy Bayliss on the Ducati Superbike soon after. They were followed by the E63 V8 Supercar and the SLS AMG GT3. Last to leave the start line were the Tilton Evo and the RB7.
The staggered start spread the field out quite considerably with the first pair approaching Turn 3 by the time the RB7 was let out. It took The F1 car one lap to catch up to Tilton and two more laps to move past the rest of the four wheeled field. By the final, fourth lap it was creeping up on the Ducati Panigale R mounted Troy Bayliss. True to his word, Troy didn’t do Ricciardo any favours and was able to hold off the hard charging RB7, taking the line honours much to the delight of all two-wheel enthusiasts.
The awesome speed, acceleration and handling of the RB7 was evident even to those uninitiated. The collective sigh heard from the grand stand as it screamed past, was a testament of the car’s presence and universal appeal.
For Tilton, moving up through the field was a bit tougher. While Garth is no stranger to door-to-door racing, the car was built for a solo, time attack racing and was definitely out of its comfort zone in this race. Undeterred by this fact Garth managed to catch up and overtake the WRC car, the E63 V8 Supercar and the GT3 AMG, proving that even hampered by its extensive aero package, Tilton had the power and the top speed to overtake both of them on the main straight. It was certainly an eye opener for those who have only ever heard about time attack racing but never seen it in action.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the race was a “demonstration” so it’s difficult to say how it would have ended up if all the cars started from the grid at the same time. The actual lap times paint a more accurate picture of how the vehicles compared. The RB7, not surprisingly, was the fastest car on the track with a lap time of 1.26.27, followed by the Tilton Evo at 1.28.42, Erebus SLS GT3 and V8 Supercar at 1.32.131 and 1.32.656 respectively. The Ducati Panigale R clocked in 1.33.971 and the Toyota WRC car came in at 1.41.222.
On Sunday morning, Danial Ricciardo went out and set a new SMP lap record on the same track layout that is used for WTAC. This, being a clear, unobstructed run aimed at getting the fastest lap time provided us with a good benchmark time to compare against the current WTAC champion.
Development budgets aside, the fact that running street rated tyres, Tilton Evo is only 13 seconds behind what is, without a doubt, the pinnacle of automotive racing technology is pretty damn impressive. To put it in perspective, the gap between the Tilton Evo and the RB7 is two seconds less than the gap between Tilton and the fastest Clubsprint car at the 2013 WTAC – the Process West WRX STi. Take a moment to think about that.
A well deserved pat on the back for the Tilton team and kudos to the Royal Purple Oil Stars for representing the time attack community at the Top Gear Festival. A big thanks also go to the event co-ordinator Renato Loberto for helping us put it all together. Next stop – 2014 World Time Attack Challenge!