The World Time Attack Challenge is what some consider a mad pursuit of speed, cars have spent at least the last 12 months (or more) being developed, tested, broken and in some cases shipped across the globe to attend the World Time Attack event. The WTAC has established itself as the time attack event to show your best, and this year teams from New Zealand, Japan, England and the USA have joined a strong Australian contingent to put together that one perfect lap.
Held over two days at Sydney Motorsport Park this festival of speed brought together some of the brightest minds in making cars go fast. It is, in its simplicity, all about speed. There is no qualifying, no races and very few rules as drivers compete to see who can make the fastest car across a single lap.
The drivers get two days to fine tune their cars and go for broke to set the fastest lap. That’s all there is to it – the driver who sets the fastest lap at any time during the entire event wins. Initially spawned from the Japanese tuner culture, the event is dominated by Japanese cars. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 is a particularly popular choice across four of the five categories – Pro, Pro Am, Open and Clubsprint – which allow for varying degrees of modifications depending on your budget.
While it could be argued it is nothing more than a glorified qualifying session, World Time Attack champion Garth Walden says it is motor racing distilled down to its purest form.
“It is pure motor racing,” says Walden. “And what makes it so appealing for circuit racers like myself is that it’s no-holds-barred. There’s no conserving fuel, no conversing tires, no conserving the car, you basically tune everything you can to do that one ultimate lap. You use up tarmac, dirt, gravel, whatever you need to to get that one ultimate time.”
What really makes Time Attack so appealing for car enthusiasts, as well as race fans, is the freedom the rule book allows. In an age where most racing series around the world have strict rules to keep costs down and competition artificially close, World Time Attack allows teams to let their imagination run wild.
It was a case of lap records, extreme weather, triumphs and heartbreaks, this year’s WTAC had it all. It’s almost customary that each year the WTAC featuressome type of weather anomaly and 2015 was no different. This year’s weather provided two extremes, from an exceptionally hot Friday to a violent period of torrential rain on Saturday.
Track temperature peaked at over 55C on Friday (130+F) which is not ideal for highly tuned race engines. The effects of the heat wave were immediately evident with many cars suffering with heat-related issues. Spectators were not immune either, many seeking refuge in the shaded areas and in the grand stand. The heat was so intense it even melted some upload link components of the broadcast causing outages during the Live Stream.
With the heat easing on Saturday and temperature dropping rapidly during the day Tilton were out to set their fastest time. Garth Walden managed to shave off a one-hundredth of a second in the morning session but the breakthrough came in the last PRO session on Saturday afternoon.
The new lap time 1:23.77 was not only a new WTAC and SMSP lap record, it is also 1.1 second faster than last year’s winning time.
In the capable hands of Shane Van Gisbergen, MCA’s Hammerhead improved its 2014 PB by half a second. Not enough to challenge Tilton, but good enough for the second outright at the event and the fastest RWD lap at WTAC.
To give some context to the event winning lap, the 1:23.777 lap (captured by MotiveDVD in the clip) is seven seconds faster than what was required to take the title back in 2010. Sydney Motorsport Park has been altered slightly since then, but there’s at least five seconds of vehicle improvement in it, which is a massive margin and shows the work going into the development of the cars.
WTAC is a tough event that places extraordinary demands on the drivers, the crew and their machines. The passion, dedication, perseverance and the sheer staying power displayed by the WTAC teams this year is nothing short of amazing. And for that, we appreciate and salute you!