There is no question the Link Open Class at Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge is one of the most competitive classes at the event. With aero and weight reduction more restricted than the Pro and Pro Am classes this becomes a class of mechanical grip, brute horsepower and driver skill. One of the stalwarts in recent years is Adelaide based commercial air conditioning contractor Matt Longhurst and his utterly insane Integrated Motorsport R34 GTR. We caught up with Matt as he was busy preparing for his all-out assault on WTAC 2018.
WTAC: Hi Matt, great to catch up tell us a bit about what your plans are for this year?
Matt Longhurst: Lots of upgrades, lots of testing and lots of seat time for me to try and keep improving my driving! The team have set ourselves a goal to win every time attack event we enter this year. So far it has gone very well as we just won both Vic Time Attack and SA Time Attack pretty comfortably. Looking forward we have some unfinished business at WTAC and so we are working hard to make our car as fast as possible!
WTAC: We have seen the pictures of your engine over at PMC Race engines. Can you tell us what the plans are for the new engine package?
ML: The engine is very similar to last year. We are still running the Bullet Race Engineering billet block which has proven to be a game changer for us with both handling and reliability improvements. We are retaining the 2.8L capacity however we are upgrading the internals to BME rods and pistons which will give us much lower rotating mass. Peter at PMC race engines is refining every little part of the engine to improve reliability and get every last bit of power out of it. We are attempting to increase power whilst improving drivability and mid range power.
WTAC: We noticed you have swapped over to a twin turbo set up. What were the thoughts behind the change?
ML: This is something very new and outside the box for us. We found that to get any more power from the engine with a big single turbo was going to effect the drivability and midrange power delivery too much. We are finalising the setup at the moment and will be testing it on the dyno very soon. If all things going to plan we hope it will make the power we are after without sacrificing driveability.
WTAC: Going back to the beginning when you first decided to build the car, what inspired or influence you with the R34?
ML: I think it really started with the Pennzoil GTR on Gran Turismo, that’s where I fell in love with GTRs. Then once I had bought the R34, I started getting into track days and even tried some time attack. That’s when I first discovered the M Speed GTR. It was a wild car! Low, wide and fast – as cool as it gets!
WTAC: By all accounts I suspect your car is way faster these days than the hero car you wanted to replicate. You have made some serious leaps and bounds in recent times since you started in 2015. The car is a full ten seconds faster!
ML: To be fair we only finished the car two weeks before the 2015 event and I hadn’t done a single track day for 4 years. We bolted a lot of expensive parts to the car but we didn’t have the engineering and racing knowledge in the team at that point in time. It turned out we were a good 7 seconds off the pace, so we knew there was work to do and we needed to involve people with the expertise in racing. We engaged Oscar Fiorinotto from Supashock to upgrade the handling and modify the aero as required. He installed his V8SC spec shocks, modified the geometry and the car was completely transformed. We then got to work on getting the weight out of it. It really was super heavy. It was all about learning very quickly and with Oscar’s help we had the car working really well in 2016. In 2017 we teamed up with Peter from PMC race engines. This man is the RB God in Australia! He brought another level of performance to my car and when we started the billet program with Bullet Race Engineering he was the only bloke in Australia that could figure out how to build them properly! The car made approx. 1000hp on the engine dyno and was solid as rock.
Cam and Brett at Solid Engineering and Mechanical always prepare the car to a high level and it has never missed an event. With attention to detail, lots of late nights, lots of testing and plenty of improvement in my driving, we found our way to the leading pack of WTAC.
WTAC: Last year the car was partially destroyed by a serious engine bay fire in testing at SMSP just three weeks out from the event. Despite that you guys managed to rebuild, return and finish on the podium. Tell us how on earth you did that?
ML: We did it with good old fashioned hard work and determination. It would have been very easy to give up, but that’s not the way we go about our racing. It’s a day I’ll never forget though. Absolutely soul destroying for myself and the boys. I was devastated thinking that our whole year’s work had gone to waste. When it goes wrong, this is when you truly find out about your own character and those around you. Within an hour of the fire the car was already on the way back to Adelaide and new parts were being ordered and made. The scary thing with cars like this is that most of the parts are custom made. Our sponsors and friends were truly amazing during this time. I had so many messages of support and offers for parts and labour, it was incredibly humbling! Once we got home we got stuck straight into it, stripped the whole car, binned everything that was burnt (pretty much everything) and started again. Well over 300 hours of work was undertaken, mostly after hours as well. We repainted the car, rewired it, new plumbing, rebuilt the engine, remade new panels, refabricated everything that got destroyed and in the end it came out looking better than it ever did. And when it hit the track in Sydney it completed every session without missing a beat! I can never thank the boys and our families enough for everything they did to get us to the event. I’ll always be incredibly proud of what we achieved.
The podium was nice reward after everything we endured and we knew we were fast enough to challenge the top guys, but the lost testing and seat time at SMSP put a big dent in our preparation.
WTAC: Sounds like you have a serious bunch of talented guys helping!
ML: I do. I make a special effort in all parts of my life to get good people around me that value hard work and getting the best out of each other. Cam and Brett from Solid Engineering and Mechanical have been with me since this was just a pipe dream. We have all learned so much in the last 4 years and we have put together a beautiful, well prepared car.
Oscar and the team at Supashock have a proven history in building, running and engineering the fastest race cars in the country. Oscar’s input and knowledge to get the car handling the way has been invaluable.
Peter has built me bullet proof engines that handle the abuse all day long. We rev our car to 10000rpm making 1000hp and the engines never miss a beat. Peter and my tuner Troy from Tzee Tuning have an excellent working relationship. These blokes are pros at what they do.
I have some wonderful sponsors that support me with great products. Ariel at CPC, Dave at Advanced Fiberglass, Xtreme Clutch, Bullet Race Engineering, Tough As Products, Tuff Mounts, Bremtec Carbon Brakes, Alex Bennett Motorsport Engineering, Albins, Freddy at Topstage Composites.
WTAC: You must be on a mission to win Open Class this year, without giving too much away where would you expect that time to need to be this year?
ML: Yes, 100% that is our goal. Its hard to say exactly where we will be time wise, but I hope that with the new parts and the effort we will all put in as a team that we will have everything we need to take top spot.
WTAC: Who do you see as your biggest competition this year?
ML: I haven’t seen too much of any of the new builds, so I’ll have to say the current crop of top guys like JDM Yard, GAS Evo, maybe the WBT/Samsung R33. Its very hard to tell and everyone is very secretive so who knows.
WTAC: Is there anyone else you would like to thank?
ML: All the guys in my team, all of my sponsors, everyone that follows the progress and achievements of the car, the guys in SA that run events and help us out to get the testing time we need. Most importantly my wife and little boy. They both put up with so much when I’m away racing and working on the car, I can’t thank them enough.
WTAC: Best of luck mate cant wait to see you on the track in October!
Travelling from interstate or overseas?
See our Travel & Accommodation Guide
Still more questions? Read the Spectators FAQ
First time at WTAC? Getting to Sydney Motorsport Park
Ready to book your tickets? WTAC 2018 Tickets