Event: Ignition Engage – Battle Evome 2016

There’s a strange equality to winter, I think.  It’s a balance that can only come with the sacrifice of life; a level playing field for all beings; a restart to a long year of effort and hard work of rebuilding from the previous season’s eradication.  It sounds rather bleak, but it gives us, it gives everything, a chance to reestablish a new, improved form.  It provides an opportunity to apply what we’ve learned from the past, to return stronger, an enhanced version, and if all goes as planned, a superior adaptation to that of last year.  And so it is each year for the competitors of Battle Evome.

Returning with renewed spirits each year, the time attack drivers throughout the country flock to Tsukuba Circuit to once again take on the 2 kilometer course.  On the cold, January morning of the 16th I drove with Sekinei from Yokohama to Tsukuba to reunite with this elite group of drivers and watch as they once again worked to best their times.

IMG_4534-EditArriving just before 7, we were very early considering the start time of the event, but given the short duration of track time, I like to give myself as much time as possible to capture the atmosphere of the pits before hand.  The Tsukuba ‘Paddock’ was the typical scene of grassroots time attack with the cars floating in the air as drivers do final checks and keep the tires warm.

IMG_4564-EditSimilar to last year, Evome has teamed up with Grooving to offer multiple classes, including entry level, for those on radial tires, and those running tires like the ever-popular A050.

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IMG_4566-EditWhile I know which cars will be attending ahead of time, it’s always a pleasure to see the cars in person; especially if it’s one you haven’t seen for years.  The TCS Usui/Scrap NA8C tops the Miata charts at the most extreme level.  Stopping the clock at 1’00.345 around TC2000 (while not his fastest by a tenth), this little roadster is well on it’s way to breaking the minute mark.

IMG_4589-EditBeautifully made E30 running in Grooving.

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IMG_4642-EditTokue checking his oil in a series of self-inspection tasks.

IMG_4603-EditGarage Kagotani street build FD competing in Grooving class.  Very competitive running 1’00.493 on radials – looks amazing as well.

IMG_4649-EditA competitor somewhat new to me, Mutsumi Shionori, the owner of this SE3P really surprised me in the extent of his build.  We’ll be taking a closer look at this RX-8 in the coming weeks, as it deserves the spotlight.  Shionori was able to run a 59.736, just breaking the minute barrier.

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IMG_4679-EditMr. Kubo was all smiles preparing his EG with the Work family – ready to once again hit the track in search of 59’s.

IMG_4688-EditIt’s great to see the majority of cars still being street registered.  Maintains the grassroots feel of the event.

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IMG_4716-EditVery simple, but effective looking Silvia from Peak’s.  Okizo-san drove the car to a 59.808 that morning.

IMG_4724-EditIt wasn’t long before the cars were back on the ground, engines warming, and drivers suiting up to hit the track.

IMG_4737-EditPretty cool to see this car again; the Z4 from SK Feed (エスケーフィード).  Some pretty unique design in aerodynamics, and choice engine modifications let this car consistently run below the one minute mark.

IMG_4752-EditI didn’t run into Kaz from Unlimited Works, but there were a handful of his customers there defending the shops reputation as one of the fastest in Japan.

IMG_4836-EditMisawa-san’s wild DTM’ish looking EVO9 from MTechnic.  Ken’s car is pretty interesting looking, and while I always feel like it’s a little unproportional looking, it’s still pretty quick.  He was able to secure another mid 59 lap this day.

IMG_4870-EditThe undisputed king of street EVO – Keiichi and his CP9A built by Unlimited Works was on hand once again locking down incredible lap times.  A 56.573 was good for 3rd fastest overall of the day, just 2 seconds off of Under’s S15 (although we all know that’s nowhere near the fastest time for that car – more on that later).

IMG_4886-EditTokue was inching ever closer to 58’s with a solid 59.1 run early in the morning.  Proving once again that when it comes to FF, Garage Work sits high atop their throne.

IMG_4802-EditSuzuki Under heading out in the Shaft Auto Service ER34.  Serving double duty today, Suzuki was driving both the Skyline and his Scorch S15.

IMG_4845-EditThe ER34, looking amazing as usual, was able to garner a 58.582; almost a second off pace of it’s fastest time.

IMG_5034-EditThe S15 was on hand to get in a little test time for it’s, literally, brand new fuel setup.  Suzuki and the team recently switched to an E85 system, making the jump from race gas.  Talking to the guys from Motec, the car apparently gained an instant 150ps increase from the previous setup.  There is also discussion of the team switching the cars ECU from the M800 unit to the newer M1 unit in order to utilize a new paddle shift system.  Just when you think the car couldn’t get any crazier…

IMG_5117-EditMotec guys pouring over data.

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IMG_5144-EditUnfortunately the car was running very poorly throughout the entire morning.  The runs consisted of ins and outs from the hot pit trying to diagnose the issues.

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IMG_5321-EditUndoubtedly number 1.  Watch out the Suzuki – Top Fuel is coming!

IMG_4954-EditLittle Tiger

IMG_5106-Edit-EditIt wasn’t all bad news on the time front however.  After over a year, Kubo was finally able to obtain his goal!  Clocking an amazingly fast 59.849 he not only broke his own personal record, but he increased the record he already held with FF N/A, and on top of that became the first FF N/A competitor to break the minute barrier on radials.

IMG_5105-Edit-EditNeedless to say he was beyond stoked.

IMG_5108-EditExcitement like that is truly contagious and for the rest of the day the paddock was abuzz with a new energy.  Lot’s of hugs and hi-touches.

IMG_4973-EditBack on the track though drivers were still raging.

IMG_4968-EditDoing their best to break their own personal times.

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IMG_5048-EditOrange Lip DC2 was running high 1 minute laps all morning.  Not really able to best his PR.

IMG_5090-EditMakoto was able to dig deep and barely scrape off some tenths from his PR with a 1’01.515.  The car is slowly coming along though.  He had some electronic issues towards mid-day, which was later diagnosed as a bad MAP sensor.

NDF_4517-EditGood to see Masaki again, and hot damn is his FD looking good.  I’ll have a closer look at the CC Flagship before I leave back to Japan this week.

IMG_5396-EditTokue, packed up and ready to jam back to Chiba.

Well, I’m going to wrap it up at that for now.  It’s only appropriate that I came down with the worst case of writer’s block the one evening I have time to compose an article on the opening round of Battle Evome; just felt the need to communicate that.  I stared at my computer monitor for 35 minutes before I even could type a sentence.  I actually had an article partially written, you know, just some thoughts I jotted down, but I ended up overthinking and twisting it into an Editorial.

This Thursday I’m headed back to Japan to cover Round 2 of Evome, so I figured I better get it together and start posting up some content.  I’ll do my best to update while I’m out of the country again, but it’s going to be another quick trip.  Look forward to more Evome profiles on-site, and in between check out our Instagram.  Cheers!

 

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