There I found myself; laying on the ground, the unmistakably cold chill of the natural wooden planks pressed against my warm back, staring blankly at the clouds drifting lazily overhead. I slowly closed my eyes, ignoring the incredulous stares from the other men in the room, relaxing my exceedingly overworked muscles. As the cool breeze consumes my elevated body temperature, and a somewhat effervescent steam radiates from my naked body, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander – recollecting upon the events of the day. It had been a long one, I thought to myself, and ending the day with a trip to an onsen was nothing short of perfect (I realize that introduction has very little to do with the event, but I thought it was notably humorous).
Rising from my deep slumber a good 30 minutes past my alarm, Sekinei and I left the warmth of the Yokohama house around 530 the previous morning and made our way to Shizuoka; the home of Fuji Speedway. It was here that the 2.8 mile circuit played host to the 8th installment of HKS Premium Day, an all inclusive day of Japanese motor sport put on by the infamous tuning company. The inaugural Premium Day was held in 2008 as a way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of HKS. It was so successful however, that the company decided to make it an annual experience; inviting vendors and developing several attractions, encompassing all facets of tuning from time attack and drifting to car shows and product experiences. It’s no doubt that this array of events is what makes it such a popular affair among enthusiasts in Japan.
Our first encounter happened before sunrise, as it normally does, at a conbini off the road to Fuji. The Top Fuel S2000RR sat atop it’s flatbed, literally frozen in a deep slumber. It wasn’t soon after until more cars and trucks pulled in, carrying with them the variety we spoke of. Speaking of variety, like Evome, there are a so many facets of the event that there end up being a few ways to publish content. Similar to our normal agenda, I’ll be introducing the event with a wide overview of what the day had to offer, followed by a series of more specific posts highlighting the most interesting and niche distinct subjects we’re known for. I feel that this is what gives NDF an edge over other sites that simply overview the event, but leave out specifics along with closer looks at the builds that interest people the most. I know that may not seem the case at the moment, but stick with me…I’ve been busy with my day job, as well as traveling to and from Japan to cover these events.
Arriving as the sun rose above the race track, it wasn’t long before Fuji could be seen amidst a low cloud cover; it’s peak capped in a fresh snow. After signing releases at the track office, I made my way back to the paddock to explore the Hiper Challenge cars…
The parking lot for those competing in the Hiper Challenge is located directly in front of the garages on the front straight of the track. It also happens to be directly in front of the sun as it breaches the horizon, which makes taking photos a bit bothersome. EVO X from Kansai Service basking in the day’s early light.
As was this matte black EK as the owner prepared it for it’s first outing.
Never know what you’ll get in Hiper Challenge class – lot’s of enthusiasts with a whole assortment of different cars. I saw some new faces, as well as a few regulars…
…like Toshihiko and his EK – which had a new set of front wheels this year. The 17×9 TE37’s wrapped in 255 series rubber are a bit more aggressive looking than his setup last year. We’ll have a special look at the Hiper Challenge this year a bit later.
After getting a feel how the day was going to play out for this event, I decided to go make a run through the garages.
Pro Shop Fukuoh was once again in attendance with their two FD’s. They were able to best their 2014 time by nearly a full second in their red FD.
The C35 Laurel from Prime Garage was one of my favorite cars at the event. Not only was it a unique choice for a time attack car, and not only was it executed near perfection, but they drove all the way from Fukuoka to attend the event. That’s crazy far!
Arvou had a strong showing in the S2000 department. They’ve attended many events in the 2014 season, and it seems like their development is continuting strong into 2015. Their supercharged S2000 lapped Fuji an amazing 4 seconds faster than they did last year, crossing the line at 1’45.937.
Pan Speed used the event to debut their entirely new aero package. I was chatting with the tech in their garage and he was very honest in telling me that they weren’t sure what to expect from it. This is actually the same FD that was adorned in Pan Speed livery last year, but stripped down and bare to be used for the new kit development. We’ll be looking closer at this debut later in the week.
Wacky Mate was back and fortunately this time had no issues to speak of. They bested their time by 4 seconds as well.
One car I hadn’t seen before, and was really excited to do so, was the R34 GTR from T-Get. While it may not be the fastest in the bunch, it is an extremely beautiful looking car.
This BMW M3 was a nice surprise; brought out by Cockpit.
Reverse brought out their two GTR builds again this year, however, the R35 served as a booth girl instead of running on track. Their iconic R32 took the top spot in it’s class though, at a 1’50.484 – just barely quicker than last year.
What HKS Day would be complete without the Esprit NSX making an appearance. This year clad in an array of new carbon body panels, with major tweaks to the aerodynamics. Esprit competes in the light 2wd class amongst competitors like Top Fuel and ATTKD – some stiff competition. While it didn’t win, Yamada was able to best the 2014 time by about 8 tenths with a 1’42.466.
Speaking of stiff competition, you can’t get much more competitive than the Top Fuel camp. Their machine was in prime condition that morning, allowing Taniguchi to pilot the AP1 to a time of 1’39.131; the fastest in the class.
Again, with NOB behind the wheel of G-Force’s CT9A, he was able to totally obliterate the teams 2014 time of 1’49.507 with a blistering 1’42.154. Amazing improvement! No doubt Tazawa-san was happy with those results.
Top Secret R35. This car ended up spewing oil all over the back part of the track late in the afternoon. It’s times for the day weren’t too impressive.
I was stoked to see that Tsukada-san and his ATTKD team brought out their R32 again. This car is nothing short of amazing. Just about 1.5 seconds off the pace of the Top Fuel S2000, without the help from world class aerodynamics companies, the car is tuned to perfection.
Driven by Kinoshita Mitsuhiro, the ATTKD team was able to best their last year’s time by about 8 tenths – more than enough for the win, and to crush everyone in the class.
We’ll also be taking a look at the 86/BRZ runners this year as well. While they didn’t have a separate competition for them this year, they did split them up into their own class. There were many familiar faces this year.
HKS’s Bi-Fuel powered CT9A – I’ve never seen it run on track before! First time I got a close look at it was at the Minkara Meeting last year. Very unique, and a good example of how new technology in fuel and energy can be cross utilized in motor sport.
One of the three S2000’s from the Arvou camp. This is a good example of the Hiper Challenge participants. Right on the cusp of full race car, but most being street registered.
There’s lot’s more to come from HKS Day as we dive into Hiper Challenge, Option Super Lap, the Customized Car show on the opposite side of the track, as well as a little bit of drifting action that was going on simultaneously.
Adding to the mix, I’ll prepare a few ‘close looks’ at some of the fastest and most unique cares of the show; all under the beautiful backdrop of Fuji. So stick around – lot’s to look forward to.
Have a good week everyone.