Day one has wrapped at the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge 2019, and the stage is set for an epic final day of racing tomorrow. You do not want to miss this.

ROYAL PURPLE PRO CLASS

The big news in Pro Class this afternoon was Garth Walden in the all-new Tilton Racing Mitsubishi Evo, who put himself on third step of the provisional podium in his first session in the car. The Tilton Evo is double-entered this year with team owner Kosta Pohorukov also racing it in Pro Am. Earlier today the car broke down in the first Pro Am session with Kosta at the wheel, and it missed the rest of the morning sessions. Garth then came out blazing after the midday break to set a 1:23.856. That’s an encouraging time for the team considering the high track temperature at that time of the day. There’s certainly more in it.

Barton Mawer remains out front of the Pro Class pack after shaving a couple of tenths off his leading time and posting a 1:20.214 in the RP968 Porsche 968. Though there was drama for Mawer with an aborted flying lap after a lock-up into Amaando Corner on an earlier run, followed by a total engine shutdown immediately after setting his quickest time, which left Mawer stranded near turn three.

“On the cool down lap there was an electrical shutdown and I couldn’t get it restarted,” said Mawer. “It’s nothing terminal. Just an electrical hiccup. I wasn’t expecting to go quicker [on that lap] but we had made some adjustments to the suspension and it’s really calmed the car down.

“It was coming into corners out of control and I was struggling for vision but I’m more confident in what’s underneath me now. Just goes to show you’ve got to grab the opportunity in every session. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. It takes more laps to get the most out of it.”

Richard den Brinker from RP968 is confident that a lap record is there for the taking in the cool morning sessions tomorrow.

“I’d guess that it’s a second or a second and a half quicker if we had a cool track, so it’s a very good look.”

The existing Royal Pro Class record of 1:19.825 is also the quickest lap in WTAC history, and was set by Mawer in this very car last year. That time could certainly be eclipsed. Not only that, but the outright lap record for the Sydney Motorsport Park Grand Prix circuit is within reach. Watch this space.

Two doors down from RP968 in the pit garages is Revline Racing from Sweden, who have been working tirelessly to dial in their own similar-but-different Porsche 968 GT1 currently in fourth place. Suffering from major issues in practice yesterday, it has been a labour of love for the team to keep competing.

“There were about ten things we wanted to fix,” said Alx Danielsson. “We fixed the ABS, which we need here, but the power steering is still cutting out around 200km/h. We have redone all the suspension settings; castor, camber, ride heights, bump stops… We stayed here until 5am, went and slept for less than two hours and came back. We would rather have a good car than sleep.

“We have a hunch that it will get better, but at the same time we’re learning the track. Bart [Mawer] actually helped me yesterday go through the lap from the specialist point of view. I’m very grateful for that. When you only do two or three laps a day, it’s tricky to learn.”

Andre Heimgartner remains in second having set a very competitive time of 1:22.662 earlier in the day. The MCA Hammerhead team is hard at work refining their setup, and are believed to be targeting an outrageous top speed of 290km/h down the chute tomorrow.

Of course the biggest Pro Class question is whether or not we will see Under Suzuki of Scorch Racing take to the track tomorrow. A heavy impact in practice yesterday sent him to hospital for checks. Thankfully, he is fine, though nursing some soreness in his neck, but the team haven’t given up on repairing the car.

Work is needed on both ends of the car, and the front-end has been tackled by the team first. Good progress has been made up front with a new steering rack fitted to modified rack mounts. There was massive damage to the front splitter and there’s nothing Under can do except remove it and run with less downforce. Now that the front is under control, they’re moving to the back of the car. TIG and MIG welders have already arrived in the garage to get working on that. As for Under’s neck?

“I would really like to make it back out,” he said. “If the car runs, my neck is fine.”

STANDINGS:
1. Barton Mawer – 1:20.214 – RP968 Porsche 968
2. Andre Heimgartner – 1:22.662 – MCA Hammerhead Nissan S13 Silvia
3. Garth Walden – 1:23.856 – Tilton Racing Mitsubishi Evo
4. Alx Danielsson – 1:25.616 – Revline Racing Porsche 968 GT1
5. Cole Powelson – 1:30.064 – LYFE Motorsport Nissan R35 GT-R

HI-OCTANE DIRECT PRO AM CLASS

Doing the class double, Tilton Evo owner and Pro Am pilot Kosta Pohurokov switched nitrous to ‘off’ and dove back in to defend the 1:28.749 from his early session. Clocking consistent laps, high track temps kept times off his morning pace, despite a fresh load of data and insight from Garth Walden’s Pro Class efforts. This second iteration of a Tilton Evo is lighter and slipperier according to Kosta.

“We took 150 to 200 kilos out of the car, and we took some aero off believe it or not. It’s really easy to drive,” he said. “The old car was really bumpy, but the new car you don’t feel like you’re dragging a lot of weight around. It feels well balanced.”

Sami Sivonen drove heroically through the afternoon sessions, putting the Audi R8 1:1 through its paces as grip faded. Unable to match his previous times, he held second and kept the ‘Fat Cat’ Audi in shape despite some hairy moments.

Japanese fan-favourite Kunikoho Bando jumped to third with a 1:30.930 in the B-Active Racing Toyota Soarer. More settled with further seat time, the big JZZ30 exploded around the circuit singing 2JZ-GTE music, grabbing handfuls of kerb to chop tenths out of his earlier lap times.

The early session for Saturday has been slated as the one to watch, with a Scandinavian skirmish brewing between Finn Sivonen and Swedish team Revline Racing, who have showed promising pace in Pro Class after a night of hard work.

STANDINGS:
1. Kostinken Pohurokov – 1:28.749 – Tilton Racing Mitsubishi Evolution
2. Sami Sivonen – 1:29.178 – R8 1:1 Audi R8
3. Kunihoko Bando – 1:30.930 – B-Active Racing Toyota Soarer
4. Richard Perini – 1:31.436 – 991 Racing/PR Technology Ginetta G55
5. Gustaf Burström – 1:32.269 – Revline Racing Porsche 968 GT1

GCG OPEN CLASS

There was minimal movement on the podium in the afternoon sessions of GCG Open Class, but there was no shortage of on-track storylines. Red flags featured with reliability issues plaguing a number of cars including BRM Performance and Car Mods Australia.

Brad Shiels in the beautiful XTREME GT-R Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R maintains top spot on the Open Class podium with a best time of 1:28.219 so far.

Matt Longhurst of Integrated Motorsport holds second in the stunning blue Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R, with the team consistently putting in laps and pushing hard. Longhurst ran deep into Amaando Corner with a huge lock-up on one of his flying laps. With today’s sessions completed, it’s understood the team are currently having to change the Skyline’s engine for tomorrow – something that has become a trend for them over the last couple of years.

Tarzan Yamada found himself stuck on the grass next to a smoking WRX when the Car Mods Australia Subaru WRX STi expired early in an out-lap and left a nasty trail of oil on the track before the session was abandoned. As they say, that’s racing.

Speaking in the pits after he was towed back in, Tarzan explained to our translator, “I was driving slow and smoke entered the cabin. The was no rattling noise or vibration or shock from the engine, so I think it’s an oil line or something that got loose and spilled onto the exhaust.” Here’s hoping we see Tarzan back on the track in the morning to continue challenging Keiichi Tsuchiya in the BDY Motorsport Toyota AE86 Corolla. For now, Dorikin Tsuchiya remains in front – 1:34.849 vs 1:35.496.

Rob Nguyen from the Dream Projects Australia team continues to struggle with oversteer in the Nissan S15 Australia. The best is yet to come from this incredible machine.

The rivalry between our two Japanese RX8 entrants in GCG Pro Class is one to keep an eye on. These cars definitely do not exploit the freedom of the Open Class regulations, but both drivers were adamant they wanted to run on the A050 semi-slick tyre, so they’re competing against very extreme machines and holding their own in relatively modest machinery. Takashi Oi of Legsport leads the way with a 1:41.050 to the 1:42.695 of Junichi Eightlien from Racing Team Eightlien. It’s a showdown that will continue well into tomorrow.

STANDINGS:
1. Brad Shiels – 1:28.219 – XTREME GT-R Nissan R32 Skyline GT-R
2. Matt Longhurst – 1:28.736 – Integrated Motorsport Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R
3. Rob Nguyen – 1:29.174 – Dream Projects Australia Nissan S15 Silvia
4. Nicholas Bates – 1:30.949 – V-Sport Toyota 86
5. Steven Johnson – 1:31.047 – WBT Racing – Nissan R33 Skyline GTS-T

HALTECH CLUBSPRINT CLASS

Hanging on to the top spot in a heated final session, Brett Dickie and Elusive Racing remain the team to beat. The DC2 Honda Integra campaigners will be looking over their shoulder as they wind more boost in and attempt to top their 1:38.824.

“We’re trying some experimental stuff with boost… The best way for us to make up for our deficit to the four-wheel drive cars is to find more pace in a straight line rather than over-driving the car into corners.”

“If we can put together the numbers we had on our screen today, with more speed on the straights, that’s all she should need to rock.”

Ben Schoots also held fast with 1:36.695. Rising track temps prevented the shaving of tenths from the morning sessions, keeping the boosted Harrop Engineering Toyota 86 in second place.

In time attack tradition, an all-paw Evolution climbed the ranks despite diminishing available grip. Jamal Assaad and the Evolution Racing Spares Mitsubishi Evo jumped from outside the top five to third, leapfrogging Nik Kalis in his younger Evo X.

Leader Dickie said whispers of yet-to-be-seen pace from Assaad and BYP Racing Honda Civic driver Stephen Wan would keep the team focused overnight.

“We’ll be watching third [Assaad] closely. There are whispers that he might have a bit more pace, and you can’t rule out Stephen from BYP. He can steer. We’ve had some good battles,” said Dickie.

STANDINGS:
1. Brett Dickie – 1:38.824 – Elusive Racing Honda Integra
2. Ben Schoots – 1:39.695 – Harrop Engineering Toyota 86
3. Jamal Assaad – 1:39.866 – Evolution Racing Spares Mitsubishi Evolution
4. Nik Kalis – 1:39.929 – Metropole Mitsubishi Evolution X
5. Trent Grubel – 1:39.949 – DC Jap Automotive Subaru WRX STi