Tag: CyberEvo

10 WTAC moments we will never forget

10450179_779922275384097_6759637361564613432_n

With six years of international competition under our belt we can confidently say that in that time we’ve seen many highs and lows. From heart wrenching terminal engine failures to last minute victories by hundrenths of a second in the dying stages of the event. The mixture of drama and excitement has become such an integral part of the event that nowadays it’s almost taken for granted!

In this feature we are going to count down what we consider the very best of the best moments of WTAC (so far).

WTAC_webstory_,p,emt1

10.  Rod Millen Celica lapping Sydney Motorsport Park in 2015

Kiwi legend Rod Millen has certainly been there and done that. In 2015 we managed to bring him and his record setting Pikes Peak car to do some demonstration runs. The exotic racing fuel for this car was extremely difficult to procure and cost us several thousand dollars but once we saw it on the track we knew it was all worth it. This really is the “OG aero car“. No ifs, no buts! It is!

WTAC_webstory_momenm2

9. HKS vs Top Secret in 2014

Two Japanese tuning heavyweights with two Japanese driving legends on the same track in the same type of car was certainly way cool. HKS vs Top Secret, Taniguchi vs Tarzan in two 1000hp plus GTRs. It really doesn’t get much better for the JDM entusiast. Add the fact that Smokey Nagata himself made the trip down and you’ve got a recipe for a JDM heaven.

WTAC_webstory_momenm10

8. Mad Mike’s flame-throwing RX7FD

In 2011 we ran our first International Drift Challenge and brought over many of the top competitors from New Zealand. Among them was “Mad” Mike Whiddett and his ear splitting, 4 rotor 26B powered peripheral port Mazda Rx7FD. With a specially designed tune, the engine was bellowing 15 foot flames that lit up the whole sky throughout the evening whilst deafening anyone within a 500m radius. Good times!

WTAC_webstory_momenm3

7. Cyber Evo overnight rebuild to win WTAC 2010

In our first year of international competition we very quickly realised that, at the time, the Japanese and American teams were way more developed than the local cars. The show looked like a 3 way battle between Cyber Evo and Tomei/ Cusco from Japan and Sierra Sierra from USA until the favourite, Cyber Evo, destroyed a cylinder head on the first day.

Australian team Notaras Racing were kind enough to sell them a used cylinder head and the team worked throughout the night to come back and take the win the following day. The crowd jumped to their feet as Tarzan Yamada wrestled the Cyber Evo to keep it in a straight line as the rear wing detached and flew along the track on the final lap. International Time Attack Racing had arrived on our shores in the biggest possible way.

WTAC_webstory_drift01

6. Team Orange win IDC in 2012

While Japanese D1 drivers have competed in Australia before, back in 2012 we had never seen the top drivers compete in their own “proper” D1GP vehicles. Not until we brought Nobishige Kumakubo and Naoto Suenaga out for the International Drift Challenge in 2012.

Despite near arctic conditions at the then August event, a huge crowd stayed back to watch Suenaga take the win in the Team Orange Evo 9 and giving Aussie fans their first taste of Japanese D1GP superstars.

WTAC_webstory_momenm4

5. Nemo domination in 2012

This was the one that no one saw coming. There was a lot of hype around this new crazy Pro Class Evo build with designs by aero ace Andrew Brilliant, but with the internet scattered with videos of multiple engine failures in testing it appeared this was just another car that whilst looking the business, would be unlikely to live up to the hype and even turn a full lap at WTAC.

All of that went out the window after the very first session at WTAC when Warren Luff pushed Nemo around the circuit in 1.25.1. A time over two seconds faster than any team had ever gone before! “And there was plenty more in it” said Luffy at the time “wait until we turn the boost up.”

WTAC_webstory_momenm7

Sadly, we would never get to see that happen as Nemo ran the following year once again with engine problems then disappeared as quick as it arrived in a sea of controversy. With a myriad of people making claims of unpaid invoices and much more it was all fairly obvious the car named Nemo is unlikely to ever resurface again. It certainly changed the face of WTAC forever though, with all the top Pro teams realizing that aero was the key to being competitive at the pointy end of WTAC.

767b

4. Mazda 767B lapping Sydney Motorsport Park in 2014

Everyone these days talks about “breaking the internet” but back in 2014 we actually did it. Or more correctly the Mazda 767B did it when we announced it was coming to WTAC.

IMG_8819

Such was the insane volume of traffic to our website as the news went viral that it crashed multiple times. Hearing it wail around Sydney Motorsport Park for the first time was a moment we will never forget. The plan was to do three laps but the owner/ driver Hoshino-san was having such a good time he ended up doing ten, much to the delight of the fans.

WTAC_webstory_momenm5

3. Cyber Evo vs Sierra Sierra in 2011

With the first ever WTAC going to the Japanese Cyber Evo team, 2011 was shaping up to be a showdown of epic proportions with both teams making claims they have no intention of losing.

Throw the Garage Revolution Rx7 into the mix fresh from a new Tsukuba T/A record time and you start to get the picture. This went right down to the wire with Canadian Indy car driver David Empringham leading the time sheets in the American Sierra Sierra Evo for most of the event right up until Tarzan Yamada pipped him by half a second in the nail biting final session.

WTAC_webstory_momenm6

Empringham made one last attempt but with everything turned up to maximum the car suffered a mechanical failure relegating the team to second place. Garage Revolution finished 3rd and a rapidly developing Tilton Evo into 4th place.

article_gaps7

2. Tilton vs Suzuki vs MCA shootout in 2014

2014 was another year that went right down to the wire. With the reintroduction of the Superlap Shootout format it was a 3-way battle between V8 Supercars star Shane Van Gisbergen in the MCA S13, Garth Walden in the Titon Evo and Japanese legend Under Suzuki in his S15 Silvia.

Mid-story4

This one went right down to the dying minutes with all three cars posting their fastest lap in the fading light of the Superlap Shootout. Walden in the Tilton Evo took the win, resetting the lap record once again with and Under Suzuki coming within 4 hundredths of a second behind him on his final lap to the cheers of the crowd and the MCA car coming in just behind.

WTAC_tilton2

1. Tilton threepeat 2013, 14, 15

Anyone who has ever won any class at WTAC will know the insane amount of dedication this takes. The late nights, the huge expense, the determination and the final act of stringing it all together on the day. This is indeed a feat that every winner should be proud of.

WTAC_webstory_momenm9

But without question the hardest class of all to win is the Pro Class. This is the fastest of the fast, the best in the world bar none, pro drivers, pro cars and pro teams. In our seven years of operation we have only ever seen three winners. Tarzan Yamada in the Cyber Evo in 2010 and 2011, Warren Luff in Nemo in 2012, and every other time since has been Garth Walden in the Tilton Racing Evo. 2013, 2014 and 2015 threepeat before announcing the car’s retirement.

WTAC_webstory_momenm8

What is even more incredible, every year the team smashed their own previous lap record which by now was without question the fastest tintop lap ever on this circuit.This is testament to Kosta Pohurukov and the whole Tilton Team and we can think of no more worthy recipient of our number one spot on this list than this team. Kosta, Garth and the whole Tilton team – we tip our hats to you!

articleWTAC_ceo2

As always, this year we will be looking to add many more memorable moments to this list. 2016 shaping up to be one of the most interesting years yet. With the WTAC crown up for grabs, a bunch of new state of the art Pro Class builds already in progress, along with the best lineup ever for the International Drift challenge, this will be an event not to be missed!


Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge. 14th – 15th October 2016. Sydney Motorsport Park.
Tickets go on sale June 1st. Don’t miss it!

Dawn of a new era

Dawn of a new era19

The last six years of World Time Attack Challenge can be best described as “evolutionary”. The event that started as a brand new concept in 2010 has evolved into something a lot bigger, better and more exciting. An event that has unmatched global reputation and is widely regarded as a bench mark other events are compared to.

Dawn of a new era1

The first two years of WTAC saw a total domination from overseas challengers. The likes of CyberEvo, Sierra Sierra, Cusco/Tomei and Garage Revolution took the spotlight with local teams struggling to match their pace.

Dawn of a new era2

2012 was a breakthrough year for Australian teams with Nemo Racing redefining the look, the speed and the overall approach to WTAC Pro Class. Australian time attack had arrived.

Dawn of a new era3

Tilton wrestled the title away from Nemo in 2013 and successfully defended it in 2014 and 2015 becoming the only WTAC team to win three consecutive Pro Class titles.

Dawn of a new era4

Earlier this year Tilton owner and manager confirmed rumours that their Evo will retire so the team can concentrate on a new project.

Dawn of a new era5

Tilton’s retirement opens the Pro Class right up. With up to five cars capable of taking the win, the competition is bound to be fierce. And that’s not counting the new builds and number of international teams who have expressed interest in competing this year.

Dawn of a new era18

But WTAC is not just Pro Class. One of the biggest upsets last year came in Open Class with JDM Yard’s Honda Civic beating a field of AWDs and RWDs to take the win.

Dawn of a new era7

Defending that title won’t be easy as we are already getting reports of some serious machinery being built to take them on. Not that the top runners of the class are far behind.

Dawn of a new era8

2015 runner-up Revzone and their Mitsubishi Evo are within a hundredth of a second. Evolution Custom Industries’ Porsche 944 and Insight Motorsport’s Honda S2000 are within a striking distance and let’s not forget the 2014 Open champion, Steve Ka’s Powertune Nissan R34 GTR.

Dawn of a new era9

It’s getting crowded at the top of Pro Am too with Chris Alexander closing the gap on Mick Sigsworth and Rob Nguyen’s Mighty Mouse not far behind. There’s also some talk of another high-profile Pro Am entry which may well upset the status quo.

Dawn of a new era10

If that wasn’t enough, Mick Sigsworth’s company now offers his Evo platform for sale as a kit, meaning anyone with the right budget can buy a tried and proven 1:25 second package as a starting point.

Dawn of a new era11

But the really exciting news comes from the grassroots, street-oriented Clubsprint class. Last year this class also saw a FWD Honda Civic swipe the win from the AWD brigade with Daniel Meredith in his BYP Racing prepared rocket stopped the clocks with a sub 1 minute 40 lap time.  The interest in this class has skyrocketed and it looks like we are going to have a jam packed Clubsprint class.

Dawn of a new era12

Why is this exciting? Every form of motorsport needs grassroots support. Without new people coming into motorsport the interest from both competitors, fans and sponsors alike will stagnate and eventually wane.

Dawn of a new era13

So the ever growing intake of new people wanting to build and race cars in Clubsprint class is a sign that time attack racing in Australia is enjoying a healthy growth in both interest and participation.

Dawn of a new era14

Retaining and growing our fan base is something we take very seriously. Our aim is to make WTAC the best “bang for your buck” motorsport event in the world. We have squeezed more action, more attractions, more ticket options, more inclusions while keeping the ticket price the same.

Dawn of a new era15

As we head towards the 7th World Time Attack Challenge we can’t help but feel the best is yet to come. The event is about to evolve once again and cement its position as one of the most spectator and competitor friendly motorsport events in the world.

Dawn of a new era16

There will be four Class titles up for grabs and it’s quite possible we will see a new champion in each class this year, including a new WTAC champion!

WTAC 2016 – Bring It On!

Dawn of a new era17

WTAC Highlights – what was your favourite?

Over the years WTAC has had numerous highlights. Controversies, nail-baiting finishes and once in a lifetime opportunities to see some of the most legendary motorsport icons are all part of the deal when you attend WTAC. We all have our favourites, what’s yours?

1. CyberEvo vs Sierra Sierra Duel

The rivalry between these two teams started in 2010 but the moment we all remember happened in the afternoon of Day 2 at the 2011 WTAC.

Sierra Sierra had just smashed Cyber Evo’s 2010 record by over a second and posted the fastest ever top speed at WTAC. So fast was the SSE Evo down the main straight that CyberEvo crew asked for the car to be checked for Nitrous.

Just when we thought CyberEvo was beaten, with just one session to go, Tarzan Yamada managed to pull a rabbit out of the had and better SSV’s time, setting a new WTAC lap record and successfully defending his title.

2. Team Orange win the 2012 Drift Challenge

Not many drift teams get such an enthusiastic reception as Team Orange did in Sydney back in 2012. The big question was; can they back their popularity with results? With Kumakubo-san out early with mechanical issues it didn’t look all that well for Team Orange at the end of Day 1.

Day 2 proved to be a defining day for Kumakubo’s team mate, Naoto Suenaga who seemed to progress effortlessly through all his battles, defeating some major local talent in the process.

As the smoke settled after the final battle, it was Suenaga who was left standing, winning not just the TIDC trophy but the hearts of Australian and New Zealand drift fans.

3. Mad Mike drives the PPRE 6-rotor

Nothing, and we mean nothing can prepare you for the sound generated by a peripherally ported, six rotor engine. We brought the 6B powered Mazda RX4 coupe from New Zealand to display at the 2013 WTAC. Our intention was to have the car in the paddock and start it up occasionally for the spectators.

When we heard the car start up however, a decision was quickly made that this car simply had to go out and do a few demo laps. The owner threw the keys to “Mad” Mike Whiddett and the rest, as they say, is history.

4. Legends shine and burn

In 2013 we were lucky enough to have two iconic Group B rally cars joining the ranks of our Motorsport Legends. The first car was an Audi Quattro S1 Group B replica and the second was an incredibly rare, genuine MG Metro 6R4 powered by a naturally aspirated 475hp V6 Goodwin V64 engine that revved to 14,000rpm!

As the cars went out for their laps a call came through the radio that one of them caught on fire. Our hearts sunk as we saw the gorgeous Metro engulfed by flames. While not exactly a highlight, it was a sight we will never forget.

5. Tilton vs Scorch Shootout

_MG_1899

2014 saw the re-introduction of Superlap Shootout, a bonus round for the top five teams in each class. Held in the afternoon of Day 2, with near-perfect track conditions, Superlap Shootout proved to be the deciding moment for the defending champ.

article_numbers35

Day 1 was a day Tilton would rather forget. Battling mechanical issues and even enduring a fire breaking out in the engine bay, Tilton were forced to pull an all-nighter to get the car ready for Saturday. Under Suzuki on the other hand was in a top form. Getting faster with every lap, the Scorch Racing S15 looked poised to wrestle the title away from Tilton.

It all came down to the final lap in the Superlap Shootout. Garth Walden drove a miraculously fast lap, beating Suzuki by just 0.04 sec, the smallest margin in WTAC history.

6. Mazda 767B Le Mans

10284793_724575724286018_312382320929747585_o

There are cars that transcend all car genres and unite all motorsport fans with their racing legacy and sheer presence. Mazda 767B Le Mans is such a car.

IMG_5722

It was without a doubt the centre of all attention in the paddock and was followed by a mob of adoring fans wherever it went. The sight and the sound of a 767B thundering down the main straight at SMSP was an unforgettable experience.

What’s your favourite?

Let us know what your favourite WTAC moment was in the comments below and you could win a WTAC ticket for yourself and your mate.

Now and Then – changes, what are they good for?

The world of time attack racing is changing at such a rapid pace it’s easy to forget just how much the cars have changed over the years.

article_winners2010

As most of us know, time attack has grown on the back of workshop rivalries so up until a few years ago most cars competing not just at WTAC but at most events around the world looked for all intents and purposes like modified street cars.

article_cusco

It wasn’t until 2012 that the wild aero packages, huge horsepower engines and  sequential transmissions became synonymous with the sport of time attack. So we’ve decided to jump into our office time machine to see how some of the well-known WTAC race cars have changed since their first appearance at the event.

article_tilton10

It’s only fitting that we start with the reigning champion – Tilton Interiors Evo. The image above shows what the car looked like at the inaugural 2010 WTAC. With no aero aids to speak of apart from the rear wing, Tilton’s Evo looked closer to the current Clubsprint Class car than Pro. While this was good enough to win the national Superlap championship a year earlier, at WTAC it finished in the 9th place with a time of 1:37.05.

article_tilton11

Things definately got more serious in 2011 when we first saw Tilton 2.0. With plenty of carbon body panels, wider stance and a serious front aero, the car certainly looked like it could pose a serious threat to the then champion – CyberEvo. The development paid off as Tilton finished 4th outright with a time of 1:30.86 and it was the fastest local car at the event.

article_tilton12

Another year of refinement and another step forward for the Tilton team.  The biggest changes can be noticed on the front aero with a wider spoiler and more intricate cannards. Again the improvements paid off with Tilton finishing 2nd outright (behind Nemo) with a time of 1:27.128.

article_tilton13

Enter Tilton 3.0. Year 2012 was a game changer for WTAC with Nemo showing what could be possible with a single-purpose ground-up aero design. In 2013 Tilton struck back with a completely rebuilt car. Gone was the subtlety of the previous design, in its place was an all-carbon, wide winged, ground hugging time attack machine. They say “if you can’t beat them, join them” but Tilton did more than that. In 2013 they out-nemo’d the Nemo by winning the event outright.

article_tilton14

In 2014 we saw an improved and refined Tilton v3.1. A few changes in the aero department, most noticeably on the front bar and the addition of a paddle shift. Add to it a more powerful (rumoured to max out at 1100hp) engine and Tilton was ready to defend its WTAC title.

article_suzuki11

Tilton’s most serious challenger in 2014 made his debut in 2011. Under Suzuki knew that to be competitive at WTAC he needed to give the car some serious downforce so what we saw at the 2011 WTAC was a machine already specifically modified for WTAC and a far cry from the near stock looking car he was racing at Tsukuba a few months earlier.

Suffering from reliability issues, Under proved that he is capable of mixing it up with the big boys finishing 5th outright with a time of 1:31.45.

article_suzuki12

We realised just how serious Under was about WTAC in 2012. In just one short year the car underwent a complete metamorphosis with the whole rear section rebuilt in line with recommendations from Andrew Brilliant.

The changes yielded tangible results as Suzuki-san finished in 4th outright with a time of 1:28.32.

article_suzuki13

Another year and another big overhaul. In 2013 we saw a new, wider front, bigger wing and some revisions to the rear section. By all accounts the car was much faster but Under was, once again, plagued with mechanical issues, this time with the transmission.

Suzuki pushed on and narrowly missed out on the podium, beaten by MCA Suspension in the dying minutes of the event. Still, the lap time of 1:27.95 showed the new aero was working its magic.

article_suzuki14

In 2014 we saw the widest, lowest, meanest and the most powerful package from Under Suzuki yet. Even a casual glance reveals massive changes to the width of the car and the changes to the aero package.

As soon as the car hit the track it was clear Suzuki now had the right setup to challenge Tilton for the outright supremacy. Finishing in a 2nd place (by the smallest of margins) with a lap time of 1:24.88 there is no doubt the gamble of a complete overhaul has paid off for Suzuki.

article_pmq11

If we need further evidence that continual and often radical development yields results we need to look no further than the 2013 and 2014 Pro Am winner – Mick Sigsworth. Above is the car Mick campaigned in 2011 in Open Class. Mick’s best time of 1:38.16 was good enough for 9th spot in the class.

article_pmq12

In 2012 we saw a totally different machine. New wide body, new aero package and a new engine setup helped Mick shave almost three seconds off his 2011 lap time, although in the overall ranking he dropped to 10th in the class.

article_pmq13

It turns out the car just needed some fine tuning as a year later Mick turned up in a visually unchanged car and took the newly introduced Pro Class title with a time of 1:30.77

IMG_2634

Fast forward one year and we saw another giant leap forward. Mick’s 2014 machine was, once again, a totally new build. Lighter, more aerodynamic and faster. Much, much faster. Mick’s latest incarnation not only won the Pro Am class, with a lap time of 1:25.27 it was the third fastest car outright, bettered only by Tilton and Scorch.

While making radical changes from year to year certainly worked well for Tilton, Suzuki and Sigsworth, Murray Coote’s approach is almost a polar opposite.

article_mca11

MCA’s S13 made its debut in 2011 with a distinctive Barry Lock aero giving the car its Hammerhead nickname. Earl Bamber’s best lap of 1:33.06 was good enough for 10th outright at the 2011 WTAC.

article_mca12

Murray’s philosophy of getting it right from the start and then only perform minor tweaks to improve the performance was evident as we watched the car getting faster every year while remaining visually almost identical.

The tweaks seemed to be minor and limited to the engine, suspension and transmission. The results however, told a different story – in 2012 MCA finished in 3rd outright with a time of 1:27.808.

article_mca13

A new warpaint hides the fact that for 2013 the Hammerhead was, again, largely unchanged. Again the result tells a different story with MCA moving up the ladder to the 2nd outright with a time of 1:27.36

article_mca14

2014 saw MCA change a driver and the car gain a new, more powerful engine. Once again, it’s difficult to spot any significant changes to the aero package. MCA’s best lap time of 1:25.70 was two seconds faster than their 2013 best. Despite the massive time improvement, MCA dropped to 3rd spot bettered in the Superlap Shootout by Under Suzuki.

Rumour has it, for the first time since 2011, Murray is considering going full carbon with a revised aero package for 2015. Will this first big gamble pay off for the usually conservative MCA Suspension team?

article_cyber1

Alas big wings, wide side skirts and spoilers do not guarantee better times. As many builders and racers often say: it is the whole package that makes the car fast or slow. There is no better example to illustrate that point than the 2010/11 WTAC Champion – CyberEvo.

In the confident hands of Tarzan Yamada, CyberEvo was the fastest car at the 2010 WTAC. Its aero package at the time was, along with Sierra Sierra Evo’s, the most advanced in the world. By 2011 a number of teams incorporated CyberEvo-style aero components on their cars and the competition was getting closer. Undeterred, Tarzan managed to fight off all the challengers, successfully defending the title in a car largely unchanged from 2010.

article_cyber12

CyberEvo rocked up in 2012 with a completely redesigned aero package. Unfortunately the car suffered major mechanical issues and left the event without posting a single timed lap.

CyberEvo’s exit ushered a new era for WTAC with rapid development of CFD designed and wind tunnel tested aerodynamics with engine/drivetrain/suspension packages to match.

article_topfuel

Looking at the past few years it looks like we are now entering a stage of “refinement” where we might not see a huge leaps in aero development but a lot of tweaking and revamping of existing platforms.

We predict the times will still drop but at a less rapid rate with closer racing and more competitors with the right package capable of challenging the reigning champ.

Closing the gaps

The cars are certainly getting faster but is the competition getting closer or further apart? To find the answer we took a quick look at the gaps between the top players in each class over the last couple of years.

IMG_1117

What we found was not at all surprising; apart from Pro Am class (where Mick Sigsworth put a 5 second gap between himself and the nearest competitor), we saw a tightening of ranks throughout the WTAC classes.

Gaps4_02

This was especially evident in the Pro class which for the past two years saw one dominant player set the pace and the real battles being fought for 2nd and 3rd. In 2013 (above) the gap between the first and third was almost three seconds.

Gaps3_01

This was not the case in 2014 (above). The outright win was won by the narrowest of margins in WTAC history, and the difference between 1st and 3rd was less than one second. The fact that the third outright fastest was a Pro Am car shows that owner drivers can mix it up it up with Pros given the right machinery.

Gaps4_4

If we look at the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placings in Pro Am, the gaps are also very small. Only 1.2 seconds between Sutton Brothers and Kyushu Danji with the Mighty Mouse less than 0.2 seconds behind.

Gaps4_5

The Open class is even closer. Only 0.5 seconds separate Steve Ka’s R34 from Denis Resi’s Lightning McQueen R32 and RTR Evo X is only half a second behind. That is less than a second between first and third!

Gaps4_6

The trend continues through to Clubsprint class. Only 0.7 seconds between the winner, Dan Farquar and David Lord and a further 0.2 second to Jason Naidoo. A total of 0.9 second between first and third.

Okay, so we have established that the racing is getting a lot closer, but is it faster? Let’s do a reverse grid and start with Clubsprint.

article_gaps1

Dan Farqhuar might not have improved on the Clubsprint’s fastest time but the 2nd and 3rd cars both did better than their equivalents the year before.

While the Clubsprint winning time was 0.7 seconds slower than last year’s, the second and third times were almost a second faster.

article_gaps2

All three top cars in Open recorded faster times than the 2013 top three. This year we might see the Class dip into 1:29s.

In Open class the winning time was 1.3 seconds faster. In fact, all top three cars posted a faster lap than last year’s winning time.

article_gap3

Sutton Brothers managed to shave one and a half seconds off their previous year’s best.

Pro Am saw the biggest advancement with Mick Sigsworth smashing his previous record by whole five seconds. It’s worth noting that both 2nd and 3rd place cars were about 1 second faster than their 2013 equivalents.

article_gaps4

It’s getting crowded at the top: MCA Suspension were 1.6 seconds faster in 2015 showing that they’re a force to be reckoned with and a serious challenger for the outright title.

This leaves the big guns – Pro class. It’s true that Tilton beat their 2013 record by just 0.014 second but the real gains were recorded in the 2nd and 3rd place. Suzuki bettered MCA’s last year best by 2.5 seconds while MCA beat Nemo’s 3rd place time in 2013 by 2 seconds. Consequently, the distance from 1st to 3rd in Pro class dropped from 2.9 seconds in 2013 to 1.9 in 2014 with only 0.04 second separating the winner and the runner up.

article_gaps7

So what does all that mean? Well, it looks like we have a tighter, closely matched field where a number of teams have a shot at the title in each class and the introduction of Superlap Shootout proves that the final podium place can indeed be decided on the last lap.

article_gaps6

It also looks like Mitsubishi Evos’ grip on all the classes is beginning to loosen up with two rwd Nissans on the Pro class podium, two Nissans on the podium in Pro Am, GTRs dominating in Open and a WRX wedged between two Evos in Clubsprint. So far the mighty Evo claimed five out of five WTAC outright titles. Can a Nissan snatch it away? Only time can tell.

The Home Advantage

There is no doubt that an intimate knowledge of the track can improve your lap time. Intuitively knowing the perfect line through each corner shaves off valuable seconds but is it enough to be considered an “unfair advantage”? To answer that question we must first look at the factors contributing to winning at WTAC.

article_home1

Murray Coote once famously said: “all you need is a quick, well-handling car and an absolute gun driver”. While these are certainly the prerequisites, these days the formula seems to be a little more complex than that.

The Car
There is no point arguing that the car itself is at the centre of this formula. The inaugural WTAC in 2010 was a case in point, the international cars were just so much quicker than the local entries they took five out of the top six outright spots.

article_home2

None of the international entries have ever raced at Eastern Creek, which, by all accounts is a very different track to their home tracks. All the cars have had a very limited practice time with the eventual winner, CyberEvo, missing out on most of the practice day due to mechanical issues.

For Sierra Sierra (runner-up) it was the first time the car competed outside of the USA. This total lack of familiarity with the track didn’t stop the internationals pulling off a clean sweep at the podium and setting a new tin-top track record.

article_home3

When Nemo burst onto the scene in 2012, the focus, once again, was on the car itself. It is worth pointing out that the car and the team are based in Queensland and the first time Nemo went around the track at Eastern Creek was on WTAC practice day. The new lap record and the subsequent WTAC title are largely attributed to the car and the driver combo, not the local knowledge.

article_home4

The Driver
Much like the car, the driver and his ability to get the most out of every second on the track are paramount to success at WTAC. In 2010 neither Yamada, Empringham, Sasaki or Mitsushiro have ever been to, let alone raced at Eastern Creek. The fact that both Yamada and Empringham were already running low 1:30s in practice without any prior track knowledge is both incredible and a further proof that the right car in the right hands trumps any home track advantage.

article_home5

Forward one year to 2011 and we have three internationals on the podium again. With Yamada and Empringham taking the top two spots, it was another newcomer with no prior experience at Eastern Creek, Mitsuhiro Kinoshita in the Garage Revolution RX7 that took the third place ahead of all local entries.

article_home6

Warren Luff’s driving skills and racing experience with the Red Bull V8 team are well known so we don’t need to discuss them here in detail but it’s worth noting that while he has raced at Eastern Creek numerous times and is very familiar with the circuit layout, the first time he has driven Nemo there was on Day 1 of the 2012 WTAC.

article_home7

The Team
Having discussed the car and the driver we come to the area that we believe offers the biggest advantage to the local (and by local we mean Sydney-based) teams.

When the cars are shipped from overseas the container space is at a premium, so although every last cubic inch of that space is utilized it still limits most teams to a little more than just bare necessities. What that means is the international and even the interstate teams don’t have the luxury of relying on unlimited crew, parts and multitude of spare engines. They have to run with what they brought.

article_home8

It is worth mentioning here the wonderful comradery shown by the Australian teams who often help out the internationals with spares, tools and a helping hand. This true (and almost forgotten in other forms of motorsport) sportsmanship is one of the reasons why the event has such a great reputation internationally.

article_home9

Yet, once again, the small crew, minimal spares and shorter preparation time haven’t stopped the international teams dominating in 2010 and 2011. Which brings us to the last point…

article_home10

The Sum Of It All
When we think of the “Home Advantage” we really need to look at the combination of the driver’s knowledge of the track, pre-event testing opportunities, access to local crew, access to local spares, tools and workshop facilities if needed.

article_home11

Does all that add up to a win at WTAC? Not necessarily, but it certainly is one of the contributing factors. As we have seen in 2010 and 2011, the right car in the right hands trumps any home advantage. Even though Nemo was not an international entry, it still subscribes to the same formula.

article_home12

In 2013, for the very first time we saw the trifecta of the right car, in the right hands with some home advantage thrown in. Garth Walden described it best after the trophy presentation:

“It’s a combination of a lot of things going right. The car, the driver, the team, everything has to work and if you have a bit of luck on the day it will all come together.”

“That was the case for Nemo last year, everything just seemed to go their way. This year it was us, after months of hard work and testing everything just clicked on the day. That’s racing!”

We couldn’t agree more.

article_home13