If you were at all shocked to see a ninth generation Civic coupe wreaking havoc during the 2016 Super Lap Battle finals, you weren't alone. It's not the first chassis you think of when it comes to competitive time attack, and in reality that's not your fault. If you've attended an event in person or viewed the coverage online, the Hondas on hand are typically from the mid to late '90s era, and on paper this 2012 model feels like it's about a decade too young. With that said, physics, aerodynamics, power and skill don't subscribe to model years and, more importantly, couldn't care less about various Civic generations or fancy chassis codes.
One look at William Au-Yeung of PZ Tuning's coupe and you know it means business. The razor sharp angular bits, constructed of various materials, are systematically set to work in harmony with one another, and the combination of parts, data-logging and theory inundate the coupe with constant development. Big deal. You've seen a thousand Civics with wild aero, big power numbers and sticky tires, so what makes William's car so special? Well, to find out, we reached out to him after his monumental weekend at Buttonwillow Raceway, where he not only set a new record for his FF Unlimited class on the track's CW13 configuration, but he also earned the title of fastest time attack car in North America, period, regardless of drivetrain set up. The blistering 1:37.308 echoed throughout social media and import race circles worldwide, and left many scratching their heads as to how this FWD Civic managed to outrun any and everything in its path from RWD to AWD, coast to coast.
First off, in case you're wondering why William didn't defend his FF Unlimited title at Super Lap Battle 2017 and instead brought out his sidepiece, a turbocharged Acura RSX, it's because the Civic wasn't resting on U.S. soil. Actually, it wasn't on soil at all. Having just competed for his first time at Australia's World Time Attack Challenge the month prior, the car was still on the water during its transport home. Prior to attending WTAC, William and crew started making changes that included strengthening the chassis, reducing weight, and of course further developing the aero ability. The changes were a step in the right direction, as the car set a new FWD record at GTA Road Atlanta (1:23.358, which is 2.197 seconds faster than the previous record set by Chris Rado).
By the middle of summer 2017, a complete electronics makeover was performed and included moving to a Motec M130 ECU and C125 dash set up. Once dialed in, the crew headed to Gingerman Raceway for WMHM (West Michigan Honda Meet) and wouldn't you know it, another record was earned—this time an overall time attack track record.
It didn't stop there, as development continued and the PZ Tuning crew was poised on traveling across the globe, from Canada to Australia for a whole new competition. William recalls, "We added a new Vibrant Titanium exhaust and a Turbosmart wastegate and Kompact BOV—we were continually making improvements before heading out to WTAC, which was unknown territory. It was a new track, new tires and an all-new event for us, but it was quite an experience and coming in second in ProAm while resetting the fastest North American time at SMSP (Sidney Australia track) was simply awesome! For 2018, we were really ambitious in taking the Civic to that next level."
The "next level" started with a Geartronics Paddle shifter and PERacing Motorsports pedal set, but it went well beyond that. New and improved aero work that included a streamlined front end was created in-house and is balanced by an APR triple element wing. Along with the additional downforce came more power by way of BorgWarner's efr9180 that helps the LA-sleeve reinforced K24 put down about 800hp thanks to the tuning expertise of OnPoint Dyno. To help harness the additional grunt, a set of Hoosier 315 A7s are now on duty up front and the coupe still relies on its trusty Competition Clutch twin disk set up. In theory, the changes that did take place really should have required more track time to get used to and dial in, but that didn't seem to be the case. Of course, there's always room for improvement and during the big day, OnPoint's Sasha Anis was keeping tabs on William's track activities all the way from Canada via data logs being recorded by the Motec unit. Having analyzed that info, Sasha offered some helpful tips regarding braking and throttle at very specific points of the track just moments before the car nailed its record lap. "Needless to say, the new mods have worked incredibly well. I really believe in what we're doing and have an awesome team and sponsors behind me," William adds.
The constant cheap shots and disrespect that FWD cars (especially Hondas) are hit with make this unprecedented success that much sweeter. However, ask William if any of that matters and he's quick to set the record straight. "It's pretty cool to have fans of our program, but I can definitely say that's not why we do it ... chasing the fastest possible time is! I think we're proof that FWD can be just as competitive as any other platform and I'm sure our CW13 record has shaken up the field. I hope to see may more FF cars take battle at the top of the charts!"
With the proverbial target on their backs, the PZ Tuning team isn't taking any breaks—it's right back to business as usual with further development of the car. William closes with this, "We were still using our 2017 motor but our new setup will be aimed at 100-plus additional horsepower. On top of that, we're working with Scott Beeton of AeroDesigns to constantly improve our aero. And of course, we always look for ways to lower the weight, and improve performance anywhere we can. 2018 is going to be an exciting year—can't wait to see just how much faster we can get as we develop!"