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Evo vs. Impreza Hypermeet - Tsukuba Circuit Japan

Tsukuba Circuit, Japan April 1, 2007

Paul Hansen
Jul 18, 2007
0709_impp_01_z+evo_vs_impreza+mitsubishi_evo_subaru_impreza_front_view Photo 1/18   |   Evo vs. Impreza Hypermeet - Tsukuba Circuit Japan

Time attack race events did not begin in Japan, to the best of my knowledge, but their current popularity started there. It's become legendary, tuner-fueled battles with the hottest domestic (to Japan) metal strained to the limits of man and machine. Not only do the top tuning houses compete, but the top drivers in Japan are the ones driving those built machines as well. And the biggest crowd-pleaser of the entire year is also the first event, held in early spring at Tsukuba Circuit near Tokyo. This is one of the oldest and most popular circuits in Japan, a favorite of the drivers as nearly all have competed on it at one time or another.

What makes this the big event of the year isn't simply the timing, but it's the featured machines. While other events are usually open to all sorts of machinery, the Evo vs. Impreza meet is about the two biggest rivals in Japan in a blood (well, oil) soaked battle for top honors. There is also the recent addition of Subaru Legacy models to the mix, but they are more of a crowd pleaser added because of the peculiarities of the Japanese market-the single most popular tuner car in Japan is officially the turbocharged Legacy. Not the fastest, just popular. All the top tuners of Lancer Evolutions and Subaru Imprezas were on hand to prove that they are the best, or at least, amongst the best.

0709_impp_02_z+evo_vs_impreza+prova_subaru_impreza Photo 2/18   |   #1. Prova Impreza

The event itself has also evolved a bit, with the emphasis shifting away from the single-lap time attack to a more fun-to-watch, 10-lap battle of tuner cars. Divided into the "Open" and "Street" classes, this sometimes lop-sided contest adds the element of time. Just one fast lap would not be enough to win, especially if the car couldn't go the distance. This allowed the tuners to show that they could do more than build a motor good for only 5 minutes. In fact, it showed that some couldn't.

There were quite a few DNF's. Half of them were due to mechanical problems, the rest down to, well, driver error. One of the most spectacular was during the Open Class battle, where two Lancer Evolutions took each other out in dramatic fashion around the Dunlop corner. Pro Super Touring Car Driver Maejima Shuji was in the AVO car immediately behind them, and saw it all unfold literally inches away. The two were fighting for the best line through that corner, which is pretty exacting even under the best of circumstances, and one car simply pulled into the other at high speed, sending both off with big damage. Thanks to his experience in dealing with large and very aggressive crowds in the Super Taikyu series (Super Endurance), Maejima deftly extricated himself and was able to motor away without a scratch, though he did lose a little time.

0709_impp_04_z+evo_vs_impreza+jun_mitsubishi_evo_9 Photo 3/18   |   #2. Jun Lancer Evo 9

The winner in the 10-lap battle Open Class was the Prova STI with a time of 5'02.821. In case you are wondering, no, Prova did not manage 30-second laps around Tsukuba Circuit, where a sub one-minute time is considered noteworthy. For various reasons, the Open Class 10-lap became a 5-lap battle. Perhaps due to the numerous cars that either blew up or crashed out. Right behind the Prova STI was the JUN Lancer Evolution 9, a bare four-tenths of a second behind the Prova car. Four seconds behind them was the Hirano Factory Evo 6, doing quite well despite its age. The next nearest cars were nearly 20 seconds back, mostly due to a choice to run street tires instead of S tires. This class showed how things could change from year to year as well, with the ZeroSports Impreza finishing at the back of the pack, behind Australian/Japanese tuner house AVO turboworld Japan in their new widebody STI project.

In the 10-lap Battle Street Class there was more variety than usual, with a host of newer names entering the fray, some of them being quite hard to pronounce to be honest. The top time went to the Inbuma Buroken Impreza with a full 10-lap time of 10'43.263. The real big battle was for second place, with Garage G-Force finishing at 11'02.315, their Evo 8 a bare four tenths of a second ahead of the Original Randuce Impreza STI. As the G-Force Evo's fastest lap was nearly a second and a half faster than the Randuce STI, this was really a battle of power versus consistency.

0709_impp_05_z+evo_vs_impreza+zero_sports_subaru_impreza Photo 4/18   |   #6. Zero Sports Impreza

There was, of course, more to the event than the racing. Every tuner on-track had a booth off-track for visitors to see their latest and greatest parts. Rays wheels was a major sponsor of the day, and displayed their latest wheels at the event. They even debuted their upcoming wheel on the AVO race car, a titanium-lipped creation that will be available in June. Subaru and Mitsubishi Motors also were on hand to show off the newest models available, along with displays of the WRC cars and Super Taikyu race cars. Unfortunately, neither the upcoming Evo X nor the new Impreza were on display, something everybody is waiting to see in the flesh.

D1 Grand Prix's Team Orange also arranged for some entertainment, doing several passes around the circuit with their 3 vivid orange Imprezas. The latest addition to the fleet is a GC8-based 2-door widebody coupe, based around the legendary 22b. They tore up the circuit in true drift fashion, first going around individually, then going out with all three cars together. Running three cars together slideways is always an amazing feat, and quite dangerous as well-there were a couple of times when they nearly lost it. But one of the hallmarks of a D1 professional is keeping it together when all appears lost, and they recovered from every near miss with style.

0709_impp_03_z+evo_vs_impreza+garage_trial_mitsubishi_evo_8 Photo 5/18   |   #8. Garage Trial Evo 8

All too soon, all too fast, it was all over. This was quite an event on its own, and it will be quite historical as well. Both the Lancer Evolution and the Impreza STI will be replaced by this same time next year. So this event is possibly the last where the current STI and Evo battle it out. Soon they will be as outdated as the last generation STI and Evo arrive, and the new cars will be the kings of the road. It will make next year all the more interesting as shops try to prove if old or new is best, something sure to be argued for many years to come. But for now this battle is over, with the Imprezas coming out ahead. Next year? Ah, that will be interesting to see...

0709_impp_15_z+evo_vs_impreza+varis_mitsubishi_evo Photo 12/18   |   Varis

Your Humble Reporter In The Hyperbattle
You always want to start a good story with a bang. But not, in this case, with a spray of metal, oil, and water as well. But that was how my 48-hour journey to the big Evo vs. Subaru battle at Tsukuba Circuit in Japan really started this year. That big bang was my engine finally giving up the ghost after 3 hard years of circuit racing and time trials. My turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter JDM Subaru Legacy GT was being prepped for entry into the time trial section of the big annual event, and had just started being run on the dyno. Around the 400hp mark the standard 2-liter turbocharged motor let go in a rather spectacular manner.

0709_impp_09_z+evo_vs_impreza+sun_auto_cyber_mitsubishi_evo Photo 13/18   |   Technical Factory Hirano

To backtrack a bit, my Japanese-spec Subaru Legacy has been prepped for racing for the last few years by AVO turboworld in Japan. It is an Australian turbocharger maker and tuning company run by the Wilson clan, namely Ross Wilson. He moved to Japan seven years ago, and started up the AVO tuning shop in Tokyo about six years ago. We met up one day. I expressed an interest in participating in a time attack in Japan. So that is how I ended up in Japan's biggest time attack event last year.

It Is A Bit Addictive, Racing.It is also a bit hard on cars, especially if they were never really built for it in the first place. So while in the quest for a bit more juice, 48 hours before the big event, three conrods, one shortblock, and eight valves gave up the ghost. They went down fighting! However, that did leave me in a bit of a lurch. Team AVO really swung into action at that point. Despite having their own race car to finish up for the race, they spent the next 48 hours removing my engine and sourcing a new short block. An STi shortblock, in fact. That certainly was going to help when developing power.

0709_impp_13_z+evo_vs_impreza+pit_in_chiba_subaru_impreza Photo 14/18   |   Pit In Chiba

Sounds simple up to that point, except for one small problem. Usually one or more heads are taken out with the rest of the engine when it goes like this. So after pulling the remains of the motor out of the car, off came the heads. The good news came much later-one of the heads was in perfect condition. The other had some damage, how much was the question now. Well, all eight valves were damaged-when you have to blow something, might as well do it right! The problem was that there were no dealerships open for some reason, something about being 3 in the morning, blah blah blah. So we did some research and found out that the STI and the Legacy heads use the same lightweight valves, so the next task was to pull the head apart, inspect the valve seats for damage, pull apart the STI head for the valves, overhaul both heads, repair one valve seat, and reassemble everything. Piece of cake.

Some time around 3 a.m. on Saturday the engine was in, the car started up, and everybody was looking just a bit dodgy. Smelling a lot worse than dodgy at that point as well. Just about enough time for one hour of sleep, then it was time to drive the cars to the track and do some test runs. This is one of the reasons I did not elect to drive this year, instead handing over the keys of the newly resurrected blue beast to Maejiima Shuji, a good friend and professional touring car driver in Japan. He was actually attending the event to drive the AVO race car, and he further volunteered to drive my car, as well, as it was in a different part of the event.

0709_impp_14_z+evo_vs_impreza+prodrive_japan_subaru_impreza Photo 15/18   |   Prodrive Japan

After watching him drive on Saturday, I was incredibly glad to have him on board. Shuji is amazingly consistent, and even better, knows how to bring a car home without damage even when people are going off around him. This proved to be incredibly useful as more than a few cars either blew up or crashed out. At one point two Evo's augured in to each other immediately in front of him, yet he managed to extract himself from that without a scratch!

At the end of the day, he brought it home with a 1.06.7 lap, roughly 5 seconds faster than last year, and good for 2nd place in the '04-up Legacy category, a second behind the Super Autobacs Legacy, which had about 20 grand more invested in it and 50 hours of time on the track pre-race sorting out suspension systems. Talking to our driver, if we get a much more race-oriented suspension than the HKS Performas, he figures we can beat them, and everybody else, next year.


HYPERMEET 10 LAP BATTLE STANDINGS - OPEN CLASS
TOTAL TIME: FASTEST LAP:
1. PROVA IMPREZA 5.02.82159.215
2. JUN LANCER EVO 9 5.03.21659.268
3. TECHNICAL FACTORY HIRANO LANCER EVO 65.07.62959.987
4. FACE IMPREZA5.24.1631.03.386
5. AVO IMPREZA5.27.5031.04.202
6. ZERO SPORTS IMPREZA 5.32.0141.04.377
7. STILLWAY LAN EVO 7 DNF
8. GARAGE TRIAL EVO 8 DNF
HYPERMEET 10 LAP BATTLE STANDINGS - STREET CLASS
TOTAL TIME: FASTEST LAP:
1. INBUMA BUROKEN IMPREZA10.43.2631.03.328
2. GARAGE G-FORCE LAN EVO 8 11.02.3181.03.666
3. ORIGINAL RANDUCE IMPREZA 11.02.7681.04.932
4. FULL STAGE IMPREZA11.08.4781.05.602
5. CECIL SPORTS LAN EVO 911.16.5561.06.609
8. SUPER AUTOBACS HAMAMATSU IMPREZA 5 LAPS, DNF
9. HKS LAN EVO 91 LAP DNF
HYPERMEET TIME ATTACK TIMES:
SUN AUTOMOBILE/CYBER EVO (EVO 9) 56.359
2.2-liter, IHI RX-6 TCW77-P22 turbocharger. Advan A048 265/35/18. 650ps.
VARIS (EVO 5) 58.766
2.2-liter, HKS GT3240 turbocharger. Advan A048 255/40/17. 500+ hp.
GARAG'E KM1 (GC8 IMPREZA) 1'00.571
2-liter, HKS GT2835. Advan A048 255/40 17. 350ps. Stripped down to 2266lbs.
WINMAX (EVO 9 WAGON) 1'00.991
Advan A048 265/35/18. 380ps.
GARAGE KAGOTANI (IMPREZA STI) 1'02.298
2.2-liter, HKS GT2835Pro turbocharger. Advan A048 255/40/17. 430ps.
TECHNICAL FACTORY HIRANO (EVO 8) 1'03.191
PIT IN CHIBA (1998 LEGACY TWIN TURBO) 1'03.572
{{{Impreza}}} STI engine transplant, original turbocharger. Advan A048 245/40/17. 340ps. Blister fenders.
PRODRIVE JAPAN (IMPREZA STI) 1'04.047
2-liter, HKS GT3037ProS turbocharger. Potenza RE01R 255/35/18. 540ps.
PLEASURE RACING SERVICE (IMPREZA STI)1'04.549
Direzza 03G tires. 350ps.
SUPER AUTOBACS SHINANOME (LEGACY GT)1'04.782
2-liter, STI Spec C twinscroll turbocharger. Advan A048 235/45/17. 350ps.
ALEX (impreza sti ra-r)1'05.404
AVO TURBOWORLD (Legacy GT)1'06.781
BOMEX (Evo 9)1'07.500
RS. TAKEDA (Evo 9 GTA)1'08.385
KIT SERVICE (Legacy GT wagon)1'08.784
PLEASURE RACING SERVICE (Legacy GT)1'09.077
ZOWIE STUDIO (GC8 Impreza)1'09.139
By Paul Hansen
6 Articles

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