One of the most famous time-attack events in the world is held annually at Tsukuba Circuit in Japan, and has been for the past 19 years. Tsukuba Circuit is only 2.045 kilometers (1.28 mi) long but is regarded as a technically challenging circuit with a variety of corners, ranging from long sweepers to tight hairpins, making it the most popular track in Japan for time-attackers to battle the clock to achieve their fastest lap times.
To recap last year’s Tsukuba Super Battle event, the Voltex/Sun Auto Cyber EVO VII placed First with a 54.925-second lap time, while Garage Revolution’s carbon-fiber-clad FD3S RX-7 ran a close Second with a time of 55.915. By midday, both teams claimed their cars were not running at full potential, as the Cyber EVO crew was testing a new aerodynamic package and engine settings while Garage Revolution’s Super GT-inspired RX-7 was experiencing engine problems.
With only a few days left leading up to this year’s event, Super Battle competitors burned the midnight oil preparing their machines with one common goal in mind: to capture the coveted Tsukuba Super Battle record that’s been untouched since 2007.
This year’s lineup of superstars didn’t include many pro-class teams and cars, such as the Voltex/Sun Auto Cyber EVO, Tomei/Cusco Impreza STI, and M-Speed R34. Team USA’s Sierra Sierra Enterprise EVO VIII was rumored to make their Japan debut after coming off their record-setting Buttonwillow run one month prior, but was also a no-show. This year’s competition proved to be an all-rotary affair, as Mazda RX-7s filled the top four positions with one in particular nipping at the heels of the record time set by HKS in their CT230R EVO (53.589) back in 2007.
The Garage Revolution FD, (Feb. ’09 issue) now adorned in Hankook Tire graphics, lit up the tarmac with a 53.673 lap time and top speed of 225.8 kph around the Tsukuba Circuit; a mere one tenth off the HKS record. With a stellar lap time, Garage Revolution’s hired gun Yasushi Kikuchi became the second fastest man at the Tsukuba Circuit next to HKS driver Nobuteru Taniguchi.
Kikuchi’s extensive driving resume presented similarities to Nobuteru Taniguchi’s, with involvement in Super GT, Super Taikyu, endurance, 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and time-attack. He also piloted the Swift Springs Nissan S15 several years back at our inaugural Super Lap Battle time-attack held at Buttonwillow Raceway. Interestingly enough, a day after competing at Tsukuba, Kikuchi boarded a transatlantic flight headed to the U.S. to participate in a driving exhibition for Buddy Club. How’s that for dedication? Rounding out the top cars included Panspeed’s 600hp FD3S with a time of 55.970 and Pro Shop Screen’s 580hp FD3S stopping the clock with a 56.089 lap time.
While the day officially belonged to the Garage Revolution RX-7, it was Tarzan Yamada, driving the Street Special Garage Yahata R32 GT-R that brought spectators to their feet. The Yahata R32 is not your typical street machine, as its nitrous-enhanced RB26, Hollinger sequential transmission, and a radiator stuffed in the passenger seat compartment to make room for the enormous front-mount intercooler were laying thick blankets of tire smoke and rubber all around the track. Tarzan’s exceptional driving skills helped tame the 750hp beast to a best time of 57.0 seconds, with the fastest top speed of the day at 226.7 kph. An amazing feat what with the R32 considered an outdated chassis with minimal aerodynamics and engineering technology by today’s standards.
ASM prepared for this year’s event by making numerous improvements to their S2000 from last year to compete in the N/A Open class. The S2K was fitted with ASM’s newly designed GT-10 I.S. front bumper to reduce front-end weight and redesigned front fenders with vents to provide additional downforce. Titanium bolts and lightweight hardware were used throughout the vehicle to reduce overall weight, bringing the car to 2,339 pounds—a weight savings of 59 pounds over last year. With a freshly rebuilt Toda motor making 298 hp, the team entered the event with high expectations of improving their best lap time of 57.389 with a goal of eclipsing the sub-55-second marker. Unfortunately, traction problems and tire selection hindered the S2K’s performance as it ran a 1:01.585.
Team 5Zigen obtained the FWD class victory in their newly revamped FD2-chassis Honda Civic Type R, as they broke the FWD course record with a 58.222 lap time, previously held by Feels Honda Twincam’s FD2 Civic by more than one second. The 500hp, turbocharged, K20-powered, time-attack machine was outfitted with a plethora of carbon-fiber panels, lightweight doors, and custom wide fenders to accommodate a set of 18x9.5 +12 offset wheels wrapped in 255/40-18 Dunlop Direzza 03G semi-slick tires. The team had anticipated quicker lap times as track temperatures increased throughout the day but remained deadlocked in the 58-second barrier.
Coming out of the final hairpin turn, the driver of the Power House Amuse 350Z lost control and plowed head-first into a retaining wall. The driver walked away with only his ego crushed, but the car was not so lucky.
Within hours of concluding the Tsukuba Super Battle, rumors spread of Garage Revolution’s FD3S making an appearance at the 2011 World Time Attack Challenge in Sydney, Australia, with plans of taking the Voltex/Sun Auto Cyber EVO’s championship title. Rumors continued with word of HKS bringing the CT230R out of retirement to improve their previous course record, but we won’t hold our breath on that one. Needless to say, if both rumors hold any validity in the upcoming months, it would make for quite an event. But till then, we can only hope and pray as we patiently wait for the drama to unfold at the next Tsukuba Super Battle.
Lap Times (sec.)/Top Speed (kph)
|Garage Revolution||Mazda FD3S RX-7||53.673 @ 225.8|
|PanSpeed||Mazda FD3S RX-7||55.97 @ 209.7|
|Pro Shop Screen||Mazda FD3S RX-7||56.089 @ 212.6|
|Street Special Garage Yahata||Nissan BNR32 GT-R||57.071 @ 226.7|
|Outer Plus||Lotus Exige||57.826 @ 191.4|
|Ti Racing||Mazda FD3S RX-7||57.833 @ 202.3|
|Varis||Mitsubishi CZ4A-RS EVO X||58.028 @ 201.9|
|Advance Auto||Chevy C6 Corvette||58.047 @ 208.2|
|5Zigen International||Turbo Honda FD2 Civic||58.22 @ 206.7|
|AVO Turbo World||Subaru GDB WRX||58.298 @ 203.6|
|RE Wing||Mazda FD3S RX-7||58.624 @ 203.7|
|Prostock Motorsport||Nissan BNR32 GT-R||58.779 @ 206.8|
|Feels Honda Twincam||Honda FD2 Civic||59.625 @ 193.7h|