Tag: yokohama

Clubsprint: When Hondas Attack

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It may not have the crazy aero of Pro and Pro Am nor the horsepower of Open but Clubsprint is the fastest growing class at WTAC and year upon year proves that it can deliver just as much excitement as its high profile brethren.

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With serious restrictions on aero, engine swaps and tyre limits this class relies heavily on clever and innovative engineering and of course driver skill. Being an entry level class the associated costs are also considerably lower than in any other WTAC class so it’s not hard to see why the popularity of Clubsprint is growing at such a rapid rate. Those restrictions also make for very close racing which can only be a good thing, but more on that later.

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Much like Open, Clubsprint has never had a driver take the top spot more than once. Since 2010 each year a different team stood on the top spot of the Clubsprint podium. This year however, the reigning class champion was determined change this record and make history.

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Daniel Meredith took everyone by surprise when he won Clubsprint last year in what many dismissed as an “almost road trim” Honda Civic. After a year of testing and improving his ride, Daniel was back to defend his title with a more refined and fine-tuned car.

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Friday morning belonged to Ben Arnold and his beautifully finished Bathurst-winning replica R32 GTR. Despite driving a car with very limited aero (even by Clubsprint standards) Ben was the pace setter early on with a lap time of 1:40.15. Unofrtunately a fatal turbo failure ended Ben’s campaign prematurely with the car retiring on Friday afternoon.

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Daniel Meredith took this opportunity to make his intentions known. With a lap time of 1:39.62 in the afternoon session he jumped straight to the top of the class leaving all other contenders in a “chase” mode.

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Jason Naidoo pushed hard but was unable to better Arnold’s time and finished Day 1 in the third position with a time of 1:41.29.

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Only 0.2sec behind him was David Dalrymple in the Zen Garage R32 GTR.

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With Ben Arnold out, the battle for Clubsprint podium was on from the very first session on Day 2.

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Jayleen Nader, who didn’t even register on our radar on Friday suddenly posted a 1:39.87 lap time in his Honda S2000, challenging Meredith for the class title.

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Meredith responded with a 1:39.274 cementing his No.1 position heading into the Superlap Shootout.

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Despite everyone’s best efforts during the shootout, nobody in the top five improved on their times with Nader running wide, Naidoo aborting half track and Meredith making small errors which cost him valuable seconds.

As the dust settled after the shootout the 2016 Clubsprint podium consisted of: 1st – Daniel Meredith, 2nd Jayleen Nader, 3rd Ben Arnold.

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In 4th place was David Dalrymple in the Zen Garage R32GTR with 1:40.188.

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In 5th place Jason Naidoo in the SuperPro Mitsubishi Evo with 1:40.711.

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6th place: Daniel Burton in the Competition Friction Honda S2000 – 1:41.47.

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7th place: Danny Buneta in the DB Racing Toyota Supra – 1:42.0830

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8th place: Vel Tomic in the Insight Motorsport Honda Civic – 1:42.2450

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9th place: Mitchell Lukasz in his Toyota –  86 1:42.259

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And rounding up the Top 10 was Harry Zhao driving the Harrop Engineering Lotus Exige with a lap time of 1:42.699.

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Our Japanese Clubsprint entry Hideki Maeda suffered from a lethal mixture of mechanical problems and plain bad luck.

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Having hit a wall during practice, Maeda-san patched the car up only to be plagued by a series of mechanical issues.

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He finished the event with a time of 1:54.248 which we suspect is neither the car’s nor the driver’s true potential.

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Kenny Nguyen in the Insight Motorsport Honda Integra – 1:44.966.

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Andrew Wegener in the Lone Wolf Racing Honda S2000 – 1:45.103.

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Glen Samson in the BYP Nissan R34 GTR – 1:44.505.

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Benjamin McLaren in the Cardiff Automotive Subaru WRX – 1:45.281.

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Daniel Griffin in his Honda NSX – 1:48.447.

As we’ve mentioned at the beginning of this article, Clubsprint is changing, and it’s changing for the better, offering closer racing, more variety in the field and lifting the overall class profile. But don’t take our word for it, the numbers speak for themselves:

Clubsprint Fast Facts

1. Less than one second separates the Top 3 competitors.
2. There’s only 3.4 seconds separating the 1st and the 10th competitor.
3. In a class previously dominated by AWDs there are now seven 2WD cars in the Top 10.
4. There are four Hondas in the Top 10.
5. Daniel Meredith is the first Clubsprint champion to successfully defend his class title.
6. The class lap record (under current rules) is 1:39.24 – set by Jason Wright in 2013.
7. Clubsprint first lap record (in 2010) was 1:44.37 – good enough for 17th place in 2016.
8. With 47 entries, this year’s Clubsprint was numerically the largest class at WTAC.

Helpful Links

arrow  WTAC 2016 Results
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 1 Wrap
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 2 Wrap
arrow  Intl Drift Challenge Wrap

Open: AWDs Strike Back

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JDM Yard’s Civic took everyone by surprise when it won Open Class last year. It came well prepared to defend its title this year but so did the challengers.

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We knew the battle for supremacy in the Link ECU Open Class was going to be a spectacle. We expected the times to go sub 1:30 but even with those high expectations we were still blown away but the determination, skill  and grit displayed by the competitors.

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Matt Longhurst set the pace early, smashing JDM Yard’s class lap record and claiming the bragging rights as the first Open Class car to go sub 1:30 with blistering time of 1:29.81

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Steve Glenney in the Insight Motorsports Honda S2000 was half a second behind and putting on the pressure but couldn’t better Matt’s time. He finished Day 1 in the second place with 1:30.30.

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The familiar “Spartan” Evo of Nik Kalis was driven by Nathan Morcom this year. From the very first session the car looked solid and fast, climbing quickly to the third spot – just 0.3 seconds behind Glenney.

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Andy Duffin and the 3Rotor Racing team brought their improved RX7 back for another crack at the Open Class title and were also consistently fast from the word go.

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Last year’s class winner, Adam Casmiri came very close to matching his 2015 best at the end of Day 1 with a 1:30.81 lap time.

It looked as if the pecking order had been established for 2016. But Day 2 brought with it a bunch of suprises.

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Matt Longhurst was unable to match his early pace but managed to hold onto his first place position going into the shootout on his Day 1 time.

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Nathan Morcom was consistently fast all day but it was during the shootout when he played his trump card and snatched first place from Longhurst, recording a new Open Class record in the process. Watch Nathan Morcom’s amazing 1:29.295 lap in the video below:

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Nick Ashwin appeared from nowhere and posted a super quick 1:30.26 lap time. A massive six seconds faster than his 2015 best and the third fastest time in the class. While the Pro Class might have been dominated by RWDs in 2016, it was AWDs that dominated the Link ECU Open Class.

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Steve Glenney finished just outside the podium in the Insight Motorsport Honda S2000 with a time of 1:30.308.

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Fifth was NZ’s Andy Duffin with a lap time of 1:30.486. Andy beat his last year’s best by over 2.5 seconds and pushed hard right up until the very end. Top effort by the 3 Rotor Racing team.

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2015 Open Class Champions JDM Yard managed to improve on their last year’s best, but their new PB of 1:30.657 was only good enough for the sixth place in 2016.

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Matt Cole was another driver that recorded a new PB of 1:30.657 shaving almost three seconds off his last year’s best.

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Car Shop Dream Lotas 7 team struggled with mechanical issues early on and overheating on Day 2.

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Still, Tetsuhiro Kurokawa managed to put down 1:32.25 which, considering this is the first time these guys ever raced outside Japan is a pretty good effort!

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Tarzan Yamada struggled to find his pace in the 2014 Open Class runner-up, Lightning Resi. His best this year was 1:32.307.

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Berry Polovic in Team Mascot Mitsubishi Evo 8: 1:31.561.

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Josh Hunter in Worlds Best Technologies Nissan R33 GTR: 1:32.17.

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John Richardson in Topstage Composites Nissan S14: 1:32.349. The fastest S-chassis in Open Class this year.

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Kim Tai in MiniDisc Race Division Mitsubishi Evo 9: 1:32.766.

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Robert Gooley in Keeley Motorsport Evo VI: 1:33.762.

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Dean Lillie in Nuline Racing Ford Falcon: 1:34.497.

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Drew Hall in Croydon Racing Developments Nissan R34GTR: 1:35.549.

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Paul Henshaw in CCC Racing Datsun 240Z 1:37.221.

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Aidan Miller’s 2016 campaign ended prematurely when his car hit a wall on Day 1. Fortunately Aidan escaped relatively unscathed and was back, albeit as a spectator, on Day 2.

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NZ’s Kat Benson in the Burger Fuel Evo 7: 1:39.759.

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Jarrod Scott’s Team Ignite Subaru suffered from a multitude of mechanical issues. This is a big budget build completed only days before the event so we’re expecting its lap times to tumble once after some more track time.

Helpful Links

arrow  WTAC 2016 Results
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 1 Wrap
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 2 Wrap
arrow  Intl Drift Challenge Wrap

Pro Am Class: Down to the Wire

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Such was Mick Sigsworth’s dominance of the Garrett Pro Am class over the last three years that the pre-event rumour mill concentrated on who will come second and third rather than trying to predict the class winner. As it happened Mick came dangerously close to losing his Pro Am title this year and not to the hard-charging Chris Alexander in his powerful R32GTR either. The challenge came from a much more diminutive contender…

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Team PMQ had a rather conservative first day. While there were no obvious problems with the car, Mick was visibly off the pace against the field and certainly way off his best time.

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The exact opposite can be said of Rob Nguyen who made his intentions clear right from the start smashing out a 1:29.28 and finishing Day One in the No.1 spot, ahead of Sigsworth on 1:29.89.

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Things didn’t improve for Sigsworth in the morning of Day Two with Chris Alexander laying down a 1:29.62 and pushing the PMQ Evo into third.

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Sigsworth finally found his mojo and responded in style with a 1:27.45 leaping over both Alexander and Nguyen straight into the No.1 spot. There was a noticeable sigh of relief from the PMQ garage as Mick crossed the finish line. Watch Sigsworth’s fastest lap below.

 

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Disaster struck in the second session with a fuel filter on the PMQ Evo catching on fire. Fortunately the fire was quickly contained and put out and the crew worked quickly to get the car ready for the Superlap Shootout.

“It looked worse than it really was” recalls Mick Sigsworth, “The damage wasn’t really serious but once the car got covered with fire extinguisher foam it looked really bad.”

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Once again it looked like the class winner was going to be decided during the Superlap Shootout with Rob Nguyen pushing hard in the afternoon session and improving his time to 1:28.85.

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Sigsworth went all out in the Shootout but failed to improve on his earlier time. Rob Nguyen put down an incredible lap in the Mighty Mouse, with sector times showing him ahead of Sigsworth at half track. A small cornering error cost Rob a valuable fraction of a second and possibly a class win as he crossed the finish line with a time of 1:27.61. Only 0.2 of second behind Sigsworth’s class-winning 1:27.45. Watch Rob Nguyen’s fastest lap below.

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Chris Alexander also saved his best till last running his fastest lap of the event during the shootout. A time of 1:29.42 secured him a place on the class podium.

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Brad Trenwith had a very successful debut of his brand new RX7 completed only weeks before the event. He finished 4th in the class with a 1:33.462.

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Troy Patterson had to retire his Subaru early due to mechanical issues but not before recording a respectable 1:35.289.

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Dale Malone also debuted his freshly completed ex-GT300 S15. The car is still in development but we’re expecting the times to drop dramatically once it’s all sorted.

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Congratulations to Mick Sigsworth who now holds four consecutive Pro Am titles, the only driver or team to ever achieve that in WTAC history. He is still the man to beat but, as this year’s times show, his stranglehold on the class is diminishing.

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Congratulations must also go to Rob Nguyen. The Mighty Mouse CRX is not only the fastest FWD at WTAC, it is also the fastest FWD ever to race at the Sydney Motorsport Park.

Helpful Links

arrow  WTAC 2016 Results
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 1 Wrap
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 2 Wrap
arrow  Intl Drift Challenge Wrap

Pro Class: Change of the Guard

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When the Tilton Evo smashed its own lap record by more than a second back in 2015 we were not the only ones thinking this will be the benchmark for Pro Class cars for years to come.

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Tilton boys made it clear they wanted to retire on a high and leave a lasting legacy. And as the 2015 WTAC drew to a close it certainly looked like they’ve done just that. As we announced the dates for the 2016 event we were faced with a very real possibility that, for the first time since its inception,the WTAC lap record may remain unbroken.

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As WTAC insiders correctly pointed out, there were three main players in the race for the WTAC title, Scorch Racing, MCA Suspension and RP968. All three teams quite capable of taking the Pro Class win, but in order to break Tilton’s lap record each would have to shave 2 to 3 seconds off their absolute best so far. And when you’re lapping SMSP at around 1:25, that’s a big ask.

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As we tracked the progress and pre-event testing of the title contenders it quickly became obvious neither of them was going to be content with just the WTAC title. Each had Tilton’s record in their sights.

“Winning WTAC is my dream” said Under Suzuki, “but breaking Tilton’s record is just as important.”

Neither of these teams are known for making empty promises so when October 14th rolled around we all held our collective breath eager to see if the challengers can live up to their pre-event aspirations. Were we in for a surprise or two…

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RP968 overcame their early setback caused by the car losing its bonnet on the main straight during practice and turned their settings to “max attack” right from the start. Team MCA were in fine form too, rumoured to have set a new PB in practice, as did Under Suzuki who finally seemed to be having a trouble-free run.

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By the end of Day 1, Tilton’s record has already been broken (if only by a 0.011 of a second) by Tim Slade in MCA’s Hammerhead S13.

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Not far behind with a lap time of 1:24.03 was RP968 with Barton Mawer behind the wheel and snapping at his heels was Under Suzuki with 1:24.24.

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That’s three cars under 1:25 at the end of Day 1! We were in for a real nail-biter on Day 2!

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Tim Slade’s cool and precise driving style seemed to really suit MCA’s S13. The team were on top of things throughout the whole event, chasing faster lap times rather than fixing problems.

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Similarly Under Suzuki, usually busy fixing and adjusting things inside his engine bay was relaxed and at ease.

“I don’t know what to do” he laughed when we visited him early in the morning, “everything is working, the car’s fine. I just want to go out and attack!”

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Saturday morning session proved to be amazing with Suzuki laying down an incredible 1:23.1 lap moving him into the No.1 position for the very first time.

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Unfortunately Suzuki’s joy was short lived as only a minute later Tim Slade responded with what can only be described as the most incredible WTAC lap ever – 1:22.19 thus relegating Suzuki back to the 2nd spot again.

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The final podium placement however, was decided during the Superlap Shootout with Barton Mawer pushing the RP968 Porsche to yet another PB of 1:23.03 and beating Under Suzuki to the 2nd spot by just 0.1 second.

“I’m very happy this year” said Under Suzuki, “The car performed well, I gave it my best out there and went faster than ever before.”

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As the sun went down over the WTAC podium we had a new champion, a new lap record and a new yard stick all those who follow will be measured by. WTAC’s new guard has arrived.

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2016 has been groundbreaking for many reasons. Not only did all the top three teams smash last year’s record but all three were RWDs. The intense battle for the WTAC title was fought between two Nissans and a Porsche. The reign of Mitsubishi Evo, stretching back to the very first WTAC in 2010 has well and truly ended.

This proves something we’ve suspected all along. There is no such thing as the “best chassis/engine” for time attack. It all depends on the build, the amount of thought put into the design, its execution and of course the team’s ability to bring it all together on the day.

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But there’s more. Every single Pro Class team broke their own lap record at this year’s event. Every single one.

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Japanese time attack ace Nobuteru Taniguchi managed to shave over two seconds off Suttons Brothers S15’s best with a new PB of 1:28.45.

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The only team flying the AWD/Evo flag in Pro Class, Pulse Racing finally broke into the sub 1:30 zone with an impressive 1:29.053.

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Brad Shiels improved over 6 seconds from his 2015 best, finishing the event with a new PB of 1:32.03.

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We will leave you with this final thought: this year’s winning car is based on a 25 year chassis and powered by an engine that can be traced back to early 1990s. Its best time is only 2 seconds off an A1GP car driven by Nico Hulkenberg. And it’s done it on road tyres.

Helpful Links

arrow  WTAC 2016 Results
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 1 Wrap
arrow  WTAC 2016 Day 2 Wrap
arrow  Intl Drift Challenge Wrap

Bigger, better and more awesome!

What can I say, I guess I knew we were truly in for a very special event when we showcased several million dollars worth of cars down on Sydney Harbour early last week and made it on the nightly news!

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This was merely a small indicator of what was by far the biggest event we have ever hosted. Sydney certainly turned on the weather and the fans from around Australia and around the world converged en-masse on Sydney Motorsport Park to be a part of what we refer to as “The Festival of Awesome”.

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It would be hard for me to put my finger on one single thing but there was a buzz around the whole event this year that I have not witnessed before. It may have been because we simply had so many cool things on offer but I think it was more than that.

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I sincerely believe we have succeeded in bringing an event to the people that they truly wanted to see and this has been a long time coming. Yes, the time attack racing is a huge part of it but these days it is so much more than that.

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Bringing the night drift back was something we considered a little risky but when 11,000 plus people filled the viewing areas it exceeded our expectations and I feel we not only put on the biggest drift show ever in this country but also the best.

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The Show’n’Shine was also on another level this year with the Lowdown crew bringing in many top interstate entries including many new unveils.

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The trade alley was also bristling with excitement this year and the effort brands put into their displays now is unprecedented. In fact, we had many spectators commenting this is the closest thing Australia has to a SEMA Trade Show!

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Highlights for me? Well, Tim Slade – what can I say! Stepping into a car you have never driven before when your two predecessors are Shane Van Gisbergen and Le Mans winner Earl Bamber means you have big shoes to fill. I am sure nobody expected Sladey to smash it this far out of the ballpark and eclipse the Formula 3 record in the process! Congrats to Murray and the MCA team – it has been a long time coming.

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The quality of all of the builds is also on another level. The engineering and construction of so many of not only the Pro and Pro-Am but also Open and Clubsprint and also the drift cars is truly amazing and a testament to the faith people have in our event.

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Having Keiichi Tsuchiya tell me this is one of the best events he has ever been to is truly humbling and the fact he told me he would love to come back is quite special also and something we will work on.

Having Keiichi Tsuchiya tell me this is one of the best

events he has ever been to was truly humbling.

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Having the engineer of the Nissan R88, Alan Heaphy call me on Saturday night to tell me how much he enjoyed the event and congratulate us on a true world class event. In his words: “You know my history Ian, you know I have raced all around the world including Le Mans. I’m telling you what you put on here is on par with anything I have ever seen.”

Once again truly humbling words and a testament to my whole team putting their heart and soul into this event.

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But most of all it is the fans that really make this event the success it is. Standing on the Drift Hill on Saturday night with current Formula Drift Champion Chris Forsberg and the fastest man in American time attack Cole Powelson from Lyfe Motorsport and a whole bunch of guys from Perth and Adelaide come up and tell us how they made the trip over and how amazing they thought our event was. This really drove home the enormity of it all. You love WTAC and WTAC is here to stay. And we are only going to get bigger!

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Finally, a big “thank you” to all those who were instrumental in helping this event become a success.  Firstly a big shoutout to all of our partners and sponsors. Destination NSW have been amazing and I can assure you they will be happy with the influx of people from around the country and around the world. We estimate this event injects over $40 million into the Australian economy with much of the money staying right here in NSW. Also a big thank you to our sanctioning body CAMS and in particular Scott McGrath who has been instrumental in ensuring our safety standards continue to improve as our cars continue to go faster.

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Yokohama Tyre who have been with us from day one and their tyres continue to set records under the gruelling conditions we put them under with an exemplary safety record.

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To all of the competitors exhibitors and fans who travelled from around the world to be here. You guys rock!

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Last but not least our operations staff headed up by the best in the business, our event director Renato Loberto. A few short years ago we ran this with a crew of ten now we have well over 100 people making it all happen. Thanks to every single one of them.

Lastly we wave goodbye to my good friend and our head of marketing from day one, Greg Lysien as he has taken on the role of marketing manager with our friends at Haltech. We wish him all the best in the future and we would like to welcome our new head of marketing – David Lysien. Name sounds familar? Yep, it is Greg’s son and he is excited to be taking on this role after many years of working with the event in the background.

Much love to everyone and bring on WTAC 2017 – Bigger, better and even more awesome!

Ian Baker
CEO – WTAC

Show’n’Shine Winners

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With over 450 cars on display this year’s car show was by far the biggest and best to date. Judges had a difficult time picking the winners from a sea of cars of unquestionable build quality but, as judges do, they finally picked their favourites and here are the results:

BEST JDM: Honda NSX (PMH)

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BEST EURO: Porsche 964 (Skunkworks)

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BEST PRE-90’s: Holden VK Calais

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BEST INTERSTATE: Pandem V3 Toyota 86 (Victoria)

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BEST WHEEL & BRAKE SETUP: Toyota 86 (We Are Likewise)

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BEST ENGINE BAY: Toyota Corolla (4AGE Turbo)

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BEST CAR CLUB: Concept Garage

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BEST OF SHOW: Datsun 1600 Wagon

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SHANNONS CHOICE AWARD: Porsche 356 Outlaw

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Congratulations to all winners and a big thank you to all exhibitors for making this year’s Show’n’Shine the best one yet!