Tag: tarzan yamada

All Star, All Japanese, Drift Judging Panel

drift judge

Here, at WTAC we have a reputation of getting the fastest of the fast, the best of the best and bringing them all together over two days in a festival of automotive insanity that attracts thousands from all corners of the globe. We are always striving to go bigger and better than the previous year and 2016 is no different.


Earlier this year we announced we will be bringing the night drift back and moving it its original circuit – the North part of the track coming  onto the main straight. We have already confirmed some of the best drifters from around the world coming to compete at the Just Car Insurance Intl Drift Challenge. With the likes of Daigo Saito, Chris Forsberg, Luke Fink and Nico Reid competing we knew we needed the absolute best judges possible. We are confident we’ve got just that.


Robbie “Bushido Blade” Nishida

Current Formula Drift USA competitor and all round nice guy Robbie Nishida will be the head judge at the 2016 Just Car Insurance Intl Drift Challenge. With his extensive drifting experience as a driver as well as a judge at Formula Drift Japan, Robbie brings a wealth of knowledge to the judging panel. Being fluent in both English and Japanese, Robbie will also be providing insights over the live stream explaining the judges’ decisions.


Keiichi “Drift King” Tsuchiya

The name says it all really. There are not many people on the planet that can honestly say they have been drifting since 1977. One of the originators of Japanese D1GP and without question one of the most qualified judges on the planet today Tsuchiya-san will be an important part of this stellar panel. As well as judging the Drift King may just take time out to perform a little of his magic on the track.


Eiji “Tarzan” Yamada

What can we say about Tarzan that hasn’t already been said. The double WTAC champion will be driving throughout the day but once the sun goes down he will be making his way up to the judges’ stand. An extremely qualified judge, Tarzan has judged Japanese D1GP, Formula Drift USA and many more. He always has time for the fans so make sure you stop by and say G’day.


So there you have it, an all-star, all Japanese Drift Judging Panel. Since drifting started in Japan and is still considered a Japanese style of motorsport we figured an all-Japanese judging panel was the way to go. And we could think of no other people that would be more qualified than the three on the list above.

Stay tuned for some more mind blowing announcements over the coming weeks and make sure to book tickets to the biggest drift event this country has ever seen!

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The stars in the cars


Over the years Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge has evolved into an extremely competitive event attracting high profile entries from all around the world.

While Clubsprint and Open Classes are still seen as a proving ground for tuner cars, the top tier Pro Classes now comprise extremely complex, high tech builds that involve serious engineering and even more serious budgets.

These classes are the domain of professional aerodynamicists working alongside racing engineers, fabricators and composite manufacturers with a very liberal rule book to build what is without question the fastest production based tin top vehicles in the country and probably the world. All of this while retaining the “street” nature of time attack racing and running on a street legal tyre.

It’s not surprising that with this type of investment many of the top teams often seek the best possible drivers for their cars. This year’s line up is particularly impressive so we decided to give you an introduction to some of the stars of WTAC 2015.

1. Shane Van Gisbergen


This guy needs no introduction. The Tekno V8 Supercar driver has become seriously hot property over the past year or two and has managed to score a factory drive with McLaren in the WEC, taking a victory at Silverstone in only his second drive.

Shane also finished inside the top ten with a Porsche team in the Daytona 24 hour. But the biggest deal for SVG over the past year has been the Bathurst 1000 that he was poised for the win in 2014 having nabbed the lead in the dying stages of the race only to suffer a starter motor failure in pit lane that ultimately cost him the race. No doubt he will be looking to make amends in 2015.

A week after Bathurst 1000 he will debut the insane and much anticipated “full carbon” S13 Silvia of Queensland-based Pro Team MCA Suspension at WTAC. MCA Suspension are one of the red hot favourites for 2015 and they certainly have an eye for talent with SVG’s predecessor, Earl Bamber, going on to win Le Mans outright in 2015 for Porsche!

Showing his diversity, SVG will also compete in the Hi-Tec Oils Outlaw Drift Shootout during the Midday Mayhem.

2. Jack Le Brocq


The Erebus Mercedes Enduro  Championship driver will be driving the Notaras Motorsport Evo. This is a clean sheet build with aero by Andrew Brilliant and a clear directive of function over form in every regard.

Le Brocq previously drove Andrew Brilliant’s American-built Eclipse in 2014 and is looking forward to getting behind the wheel of an AWD Pro Class contender in 2015.

Le Brocq was a former Australian Formula Ford Champion who will be competing for Erebus Motorsport the week prior to WTAC alongside youngster Ash Walsh and like SVG will be looking to snare a double victory of Bathurst and WTAC all within 7 days!

3. Garth Walden


In his previous employment Walden was, for many years, the manager of the Sydney Motorsport Park based Radical operation and it is often said he has done more laps of this circuit than any man on earth. These days he is keeping himself busy with his Garth Walden Racing enterprise, running cars in many classes around the country including an SLS GT Mercedes, a few Porsches in Carerra Cup and a bunch of Radicals.

He is also the reigning WTAC champion and with back to back wins in the insanely fast Tilton Evo, is without question, the guy to beat in 2015 and certainly starts the event with a big target on his back.

4. Tomohiko “Under” Suzuki


All the drivers we have introduced so far can be aptly described as “seasoned professionals”. That’s not the case with Under Suzuki. Here is a guy who works full time at a pharmacy and after hours tinkers away on his beloved s15 Silvia, garaged in the corner of his friend’s workshop on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Not only does Suzuki build (or helps to build) every part of his car but he also drives it, being a true believer in the “owner-driver” philosophy.

To anyone with even a passing knowledge of time attack racing he is a legend.His knowledge and driving skills have improved to such a level that he finished runner-up in 2014, only four hundredths of a second behind the professionally built and driven Tilton Evo.

No doubt the DIY crowd worldwide will cheer him on this year as he sets his sights on the top spot.

5. David Wall


Two time Australian GT champion and V8 Supercar driver for Volvo GRM will be making his WTAC debut in one highly anticipated build.

A car code-named RP 968 is rumoured to be a no-compromise, high budget Pro Class build.  Some of the best minds in the business have banded together to put together a race car that is bound to be the yardstick the next generation of pro cars will be measured by.

With a full dry carbon body and aero by ex Toyota F1 engineers it will certainly throw a cat amongst the pigeons. If the team can get enough testing done prior to the event, Wall will have a very capable ride for his Pro class assault.

6. Eiji “Tarzan” Yamada


Over the years Yamada has successfully raced in many categories including JGTC, Japanese Touring Car Championship, D1GP and also time attack in Japan, USA and the UK.

He is the only Japanese driver to have competed at every single WTAC since 2010. He has driven everything from the Cyber Evo (back to back victories in 2010 and 2011), the stunning Esprit Honda NSX and most recently the 1000+hp GTR of Top Secret.

In 2015 he will be back behind the wheel of the Revzone Evo chasing the Open Class victory.

7 . Steve Glenney


Australian tarmac rally ace and former Mazda factory driver Steve Glenney has an impressive racing resume. He finished runner up in 2015 Targa Tasmania in an R35 GTR after mechanical gremlins robbed him of a certain victory and most recently won the first Australian Extreme Rally cross event outright.

Glenney is not stranger to time attack with multiple WTAC Open Class victories behind him. He is back in 2015 driving two very competitive cars.

The Dominator Evo (that he drove to victory back in 2012 in Open Class) now competing in Pro Class and the Insight S2000 in Open Class. Being an ultra competitive and capable driver, we are sure Glenney will be pushing for both trophies.

8. Cole Powelson


Whilst he may not be a familiar name in Australia, we reckon he will be after WTAC 2015! As the owner of LYFE Motorsport and driver of the crazy USA built R35 GTR, Powelson is actually the first ever American to ever drive at WTAC.

Whilst we have had American teams here before, the cars have not been driven by Americans. The Sierra Sierra Evo was driven by Canadian Indy car ace David Empringham and the ARK Design GTR was driven by Australian Steve Glenney.

9.  Gareth Lloyd


Former UK multiple Saloon Car champion is on his second trip to WTAC.

Gareth has certainly been the guy to beat in the UK with SVA Imports smashing lap records at numerous circuits. With a thoroughly tested and proven car and a very experienced and capable team behind him, Gareth will be a serious threat in October.

10. Steven Johnson


Another former V8 Supercar driver making his WTAC debut this year is Steven Johnson.

Steven will be driving the WBT backed R33 GTR in Open Class. A serious build by GTR maestros Hi Octane Racing, featuring a 700hp dry sump engine and a sequential transmission will certainly throw him straight into the mix.

Apparently Steve is eager to see what all the fuss is about and the word on the street is that his father Australian motor racing legend Dick Johnson will also be trekking down to check it all out and offer some friendly advice!

Also starring…

Andy Forrest is a guy who, like Under Suzuki, does everything himself in his hometown of Scotland. Andy has wiped the floor with the competition in his local Superlap Scotland competition so anything is possible here too.Without question one to keep a firm eye on!

Andy Duffin is the reigning GT2 Champion in New Zealand in his 3 Rotor Racing RX7 and he has transformed it into an elite level Open Class car and will be looking to give the Aussies a bit of a hurry up.

Also from New Zealand leading V8 Supertourer driver Simon Evans will be piloting the Hell Racing Evo in Pro Class.

Victorian ace wheel man and reigning Open Class champ Dean Lillie has re-signed with both Steve Ka and Denis Resi in the two Powertune GTRs.

Dean Lillie

After winning Open Class back to back Dean Lillie will return with both Powertune GTRs for 2015.

Former Australian Formula 3 Champion Tim Macrow has been listed to drive the IS Motor Racing Evo.

Then we have the ultimate dark horse. A quietly spoken mining engineer from Queensland who has built one of the most stunning cars ever to compete at WTAC and a guy that proved last year that neither the car nor himself are “all show” finishing in top 3 outright. His name is Mick Sigsworth and his car is a full carbon fiber masterpiece known as the “PMQ Evo M”.  This car and driver combo could provide the biggest upset ever if they won outright from the Pro Am Class.


Japanese driver Shimaya competed in 2013 and will return with Team Endless in Pro Am competition.

Last but not least we have all the usual suspects that make the annual pilgrimage: Chris Alexander, Rob Nguyen, Luke Ryall and Jason Wright will be doing their best to keep Endless star driver from Japan Atsushi Shimaya at bay in the Pro Am Class.

Nik Kalis, Rob Gooley and rally ace Adam Casmiri are all returning in heavily upgraded vehicles in Open Class and “Mr Time Attack” himself, John Boston will be back behind the wheel of the “MotiveDVD Jet 200” Silvia and the RTR Evo X.

With the field across all classes that strong, all the bets are off come October. We can’t wait!


And while we are on the subject of Stars in Cars, they do not come much more “been there, done that than Kiwi legend Rod Millen. We are honoured to have him and his Celica along in 2015. Bring it on!

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Top Secret to Challenge HKS in Pro GTR Class


Legendary Japanese tuning house TOP SECRET have laid down the challenge to HKS: “Our GTR is faster and we are coming to Australia to prove it!”


Packing well in excess of 1000 horsepower and a very well sorted chassis Top Secret have made their intention very clear. To ensure they have the best possible shot at the title they have hired Japanese time attack ace Eiji “Tarzan” Yamada to do the driving.


Top Secret have over the years developed a reputation for building extreme high horsepower vehicles and their latest R35 GTR is the culmination of Kazuhiko “Smoky” Nagatas many years of tuning experience.


The list of components reads like a JDM fan boy’s ultimate wish list. Starting with full HKS internals the engine was carefully assembled by Top Secret to “full racing spec” with a goal of “over 1000ps with absolute response”. A Trust RX1200 twin turbo kit was added along with a Trust intercooler and induction kit. The transmission is an Upper Program NEKO and the clutch is Ogura with Kansai service providing the LSDs. The suspension is Top Secret’s own TSS-11 prototype kit they have been developing with huge endless 405mm rotors and Endless mono block callipers along with a full carbon Top Secret  aero kit.

“Make no mistake we are coming to win” said Smoky Nagata “HKS can have all the power in the world but you need to get it to the track and that is where we think we have the edge. We may be a small tuning shop but we draw on many years of racing experience and our whole package is very well refined from the aero to the suspension and the engine response. Plus we know that Tarzan really wants to win again so we will put maximum effort in when we come to Australia”

smoky dsport

Make no mistake we are coming to win – Smoky Nagata Photo: D-Sport Magazine USA

“To have such an iconic brand as Top Secret coming this year really spices things up” said Superlap CEO Ian Baker “and the fact that they are determined to beat the heavyweights, HKS means that we are in for one hell of a show and the real winner will be the fans!”

HKS vs Top Secret. Taniguchi vs Tarzan.Sounds like there are some old scores to settle here!




Pro Class: Esprit Honda NSX


This is the one so many people have been waiting for. Yes its 100% confirmed!

The legendary Esprit Honda NSX from Japan will be competing in the Royal Purple Pro Class at the 2013 World Time Attack Challenge with the equally legendary Tarzan Yamada behind the wheel.


This car is without question the fastest time attack NSX in Japan and is the flagship vehicle of world famous Suzuka based tuning shop Esprit. The car is powered by an 800hp plus turbocharged version of the original V6 engine that is stuffed to the brim with all the best bits.

And this is where it gets really interesting; the engine is also rotated 90 degrees and now has a sequential Hewland transaxle hanging off the rear of it just like the Super GT versions.


This car is seriously fast and won the HKS premium day 2013 in the rear wheel drive class at Fuji Speedway. This is a very good indication of how fast the car will be at Sydney Motorsport Park as both tracks feature a large flowing course that is much more suited to extremely high powered vehicles such as this than a tight, technical circuit like Tsukuba.


The car features an absolutely stunning aero kit that is all made in house by Esprit and is modeled closely off proven Super GT designs and looks absolutely stunning in the stark “all business” white livery.

These guys will be out to show the world what they’ve got as this vehicle has been the subject of many years of development and now, for the first time it will get to strut its stuff on the world stage.


“This is one of the cars we have wanted to see compete from day one” said Superlap CEO Ian Baker,  “This car is a work of art to see in the flesh and of course with Tarzan doing the driving is certainly one that we are so excited about and they no doubt will have a crowd ten deep around it  before it hits the track in Sydney in October”


“I am really excited to come back to Sydney as I really love Australia” said Tarzan “last year was a very tough year for me after twice winning the title in 2010 and 2011, but team Esprit is a very good team and we will focus on doing our absolute best. The track will suit the Honda and we will represent Japan proudly”


The Esprit team are taking their first venture outside Japan very seriously and are currently ensuring the vehicle complies to WTAC Pro Class regulations and have already made several modifications to suit the 2013 rulebook and hope to be out testing in the coming weeks prior to loading into the container to come down under.

So if you are a Honda fan or indeed even just a JDM fan there will be no better place to be then Sydney Motorsport Park in October.

Thanks to Dino from Speedhunters.com and the-lowdown.com for the photos.




CyberEvo Fuji Speedway testing recap

On June 24th, the Cyber Evo team took their car for a shakedowned at the famous Fuji Speedway. Much has been said about its controversial new aero package so this video report will interest anyone who has followed the car’s build over the last year.

To quote Tarzan: “The car now has more downforce, more power and should be a lot faster down the main straight.”

With the new Haltech ECU and data logging system onboard, the team now has the tools to analyse every aspect of the car’s performance and get the most out of the new engine and the new aero.

Despite the poor weather during the shakedown and a limited testing time, the team remains very positive, to quote Tarzan again: “Cyber Team goes to Australia every year in this situation, so I hope we can perform as well as we did at the previous two events.”

We can’t help but agree, every year the CyberEvo managed to conjure some magic just when it was needed. Can they do it again, for the third time? We’ll just have to wait and see!

Cyber Evo under the the microscope

Since the first series of images featuring Cyber Evo’s new body were published, the internet exploded with discussions about its radical looks and whether this new approach is going to affect Cyber Evo’s winning streak.

The question on everyone’s lips seems to be “why change the winning formula”? The answer to this question seems to be two-fold; firstly – none of the competitors are resting on their laurels, the lap times improve across the board from year to year, in all classes. If your car doesn’t improve – it will be left behind. Secondly – one wouldn’t expect C-West to just copy the Voltex design, of course C-West want to make their aero better while stamping their own originality all over it.

In one of the post-race interviews last year Tarzan said: “I gave it all I had, the car was at its limit.” So while the Cyber Evo team managed to secure the 2011 title, that winning lap had also exposed the car’s limits.

When Takizawa-san decided the team will come to Australia to defend their title, he knew the car needed to undergo a series of improvements to remain competitive and fend off a field of challengers.

With Cyber Evo and Voltex parting ways and ending up rivals (Voltex have teamed up with Top Fuel for 2012), Cyber Evo turned to C-West for some help with the aero. C-West is a household name to anyone in the JDM and tuning scene and the company is no stranger to motorsport either so we won’t question their approach, even though many have branded is as “radical”.

If you listen closely to the video (embedded at the top of this article) you can pick out some important bits of information that might have been the reasons behind the new body kit looking the way it does. The brief from Takizawa-san was simple: we need downforce and plenty of it! The new aero seems to provide that in aboundance while also managing to be fully adjustable. Those minute adjustments, made during testing and on a race day are crucial for making the car go just that extra 1/10th second faster.

Will the new aero, coupled with the Aussie engine management system from Haltech be enough to secure Cyber Evo’s trifecta? We’ll all just have to wait and see.

Takizawa-san: Downforce, downforce, downforce!

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