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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!