Event: Driven To Perfection – Attack Tsukuba Championship 2018

The uniqueness of time attack as a motor sport comes in the form of precise continuity.  If the slightest error is made anywhere on the track, the moment of contention is lost.  Many times there exists only one chance, where conditions are aligned, that the drivers who live on the limit are able to achieve record laps.  There is a feeling of tension, exclusive to the sport that makes it so appealing to it’s participants and fans.  Man and machine working together harmoniously, becoming one, in an unforgiving waltz that carries them to the peak of their abilities.

It takes years to get to that point though.  The ‘limit’ isn’t something you just jump into a car and drive to.  You can’t visit it leisurely like it’s the Grand Canyon or something.  I think it’s hard for many people who aren’t personally involved in  the sport to comprehend just what it takes to get to the level these guys are driving at – not just on track, but off track as well.  The majority of the drivers are devoted to the craft.  They own shops, they don’t take days off, what little free time they have is spent developing their personal cars or studying data from previous events.  They don’t live lavish lifestyles; the financial burden of building race cars realistically doesn’t allow it.  Most have families to support and to say that what they do is a sacrifice would be an understatement.  Time is finite, there is a set amount that we get, and to spend all of it doing one thing naturally prevents you from doing others.

It’s this balance that I’m constantly referring to.  Except in this case, the balance doesn’t exist, because 100% of what they do is in the pursuit of finding time on track.  Their livelihood depends on their performance.

The flip side of that being those in the paddock that aren’t involved in the industry itself, but have chosen to delve into the sport with their expendable income.  Of course this is the more preferable choice, but unfortunately not everyone is awarded this luxury.  It’s this mix of backgrounds in the sport that gives it yet another interesting aspect.  Backstories begin to emerge for each of the drivers, giving us a glimpse into their personal lives.  After awhile we’re able to categorize them, determine who the ‘underdogs’ might be; it’s all very entertaining.  With that being said, every driver has their own way of getting to the limit of their skill.  All stemming from background, personal experience and preference, we see a huge variety of makes and models in the paddock area.  FF Hondas, RWD sports cars, Mid-Ship varieties, AWD cars, European makes, etc., etc. – you get the idea.  There’s a lot of different cars that come to these events.  The only thing in common they have is that they were built to go fast around the track; how they achieve that is unique to each car.  There is no better place to immerse yourself in this pallet of cars than the Attack Championship at Tsukuba.  TC2000 has long been the end-all venue for competition in Japanese time attack and the Attack series brings everyone together once a year for a battle royale of time.

One of the very few times I’ve gone to an event at Tsukuba where we’ve had to use the outside parking.  It was cool to see Dogfight represented on cars in the parking lot – this EVO is a customer of Sato-san.  Also, this seems to be an appropriate time to give thanks to everyone that I ran into and got to talk to that day.  I’m very thankful for the friendships I’ve gained from this site, and this event seemed to be a good reminder of just how many people enjoy the website.

The entirety of the TC2000 paddock was in use to house cars from both the Super Lap portion and the Zummy’s class.  Aoki and his team really out did themselves this year with the organization of the event.  Everything from the vendors, to the scheduling was very well executed and I never once thought it seemed poorly managed; although I could tell that Aoki was a bit stressed throughout the day.

Naturally, the majority of the cars were brought in by flatbed the day before.  There were a lot of drivers that came from pretty far away – like the ASLAN guys from Osaka.  That’s like a 6 or 7 hour drive at the least.  Others, well, either don’t have registration, or aren’t interested in driving a race car for extended period of time (completely understandable haha).

Advan was one of the flagship sponsors, naturally, as the majority of cars are running on their dominating A050 compound.  The Radial class was also monopolized by their A052 compound – Yokohama simply makes great tires.  Their display of past and present race cars was very cool.

Masaki has finally wrapped up the rebuild of his FD and was able to test it, rather impressively, at this event.  The new modifications to the TCP kit look great.

In typical fashion, we’ll take a closer look at all the 2018 cars and review some updates in the coming weeks.

Seyama’s R32 looking as powerful as ever.

A couple revisions to the motor netting him now in upwards of 850ps.  He ran a 55.693, which is well off pace for Seyama, with his personal best being in the very low 54’s.  I didn’t see him on track that much, which leads me to believe they were having some sort of issue with the car.  For having a 52 second goal, running a 55 isn’t the best outcome.

The privately owned ‘BBQ’ Roadster made an appearance.  Inoue was able to grab a sub-minute lap time, but was literally a hundredth off his personal best pace.

Car was looking good though.

Iwata and friends were there, of course.  With the three main players from Garage Work in top contention for NA class.  Every time I see Iwata I ask him about his EG, and every time he sullenly tells me ‘まだまだ!’ – meaning, not yet.

OuterPlus and TiRacing were out representing the Lotus camp.  Tomu was able to break the minute barrier with a 58.876 which was good enough for 9th place in the ‘Second’ Class; the event’s largest run group.  His goal was a 59 flat, so job well done.

His slightly faster partner in crime, Takeshi Hasegawa, improved on Tomu’s time with a 58.337 – a few tenths slower than his best.

Quite possibly the brightest car of the day belonged to the very enthusiastic Mami.  We’ve talked online a bit, but it was nice to meet her in person.  She is very diligent about updating her Minkara page with all the work she does to her EK.  To my disappointment, her Corgi was left at home.  She ran a 1’04.7 in the women’s class – which was a pretty cool run group that had 14 participants!

The hot pit is put to good use during packed events, making the most of what space is available.

With teams lined up along either garage side, there was almost an overwhelming amount of things to look at.

Ando and his Escort team pulled out all the stops once again to easily top the time charts on his first outing.  I was in the pit lane talking to Tokue when I heard Manabu (the announcer for the day) yelling at the top of his lungs in typical fashion.  We looked down at the monitor they had in the garage to see Ando stop the clock at what seemed to be an effortless 51’893 second lap.  To give you an idea of the gap, the Sakamoto Engineering FD took second place overall with a 54’472.  We could very well be seeing a third contender for breaking into the sought after 49’s.  With Suzuki and HKS tied up in battle, Ando could be sneaking up from the back to surprise them both.  Will be interesting to see how his R35 build develops over this year.

Top form, as always.

An impressive lineup as the first super lap session gets underway.  I tried my hardest to just enjoy the event this time, and not worry too much about photos.  That’s the biggest downside of trying to cover something you’re genuinely interested in.

The boys from AutoBahn were having mechanical issues throughout the day, which allowed them to only net a 57’3 – well off pace.

They did have a few updates for the new season though, one of them being a new way to route their piping.

Wastegate and exhaust are now dumped right behind the right front tire.  Updated front end and a few other minute aero bits made up a subtle new look for the massive car.

I first came across Tomohiro’s Exige at Suzuka Circuit a few years ago.  This car is crazy cool.  The supercharged V6 puts out almost 500 horsepower, and the all new carbon, one-piece front end reduces weight by quite a bit.

It looked simply beautiful out on track, and performed extremely well, crossing the line with 55.402 taking third in the Turbo class.

The fans of the 86 would have been ecstatic to see the strong showing of the chassis.  Takumi, Osamu, Arai, Mokoto, and Kenji all brought out what could easily be a group considered to be Japan’s fastest AE86’s.  All with sub-minute lap times, aside from Suwa who unfortunately couldn’t catch a break and didn’t end up putting down a time.  It’s ok though, we all know that he’s fast.

Takumi actually had a Carbon Junkie booth across from his car where he was displaying and selling his infamous 86 carbon parts.  I was actually pleasantly surprised to see his work to be very fairly priced.  If I had a 86, there’s no doubt I’d have his products on my car.

Suwa’s 86 looking quite a bit different than last I saw him.  That being said, it has been years.  Suwa, a family man now, doesn’t seem like he gets out to the track as often as he used to.

He was pretty stoked to be there though.

The Friends Racing S15 is a car that needs no introduction, and quite frankly, was one of the most intimidating looking cars at the track.

Again, like most of the frontrunners, the car was well off pace.  With a 55.573, they were over 2 seconds shy of their best.

There is one car that I see often, that I just can’t wrap my head around.  I think it’s simply because it’s not really my preferable style, or…something.  I don’t know, and I can’t put my finger on it.  It’s definitely a very eccentric car.  I think for that reason I subconsciously don’t typically post pictures of it.  Nyan’s New Type Racing/FDX Project FD is drift car turned time attack, and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is no doubting his progression in the new medium.  Nyan owns the body shop New Type, and has used this car to display what he can do to transform the body to something unique and effective.

The 780ps 2JZ swapped FD has been driven to a best time of 56’9 – which is crazyyyy fast considering where he began just a few years ago.  The car has also been tamed down a bit from it’s previous versions.  I think the owner has had to give up some of his wild ideas for something more reasonable and beneficial.

Like it or not, this car is quick.

Matayoshi was on hand representing his company AdHoc Works, as well as our mutual partner APG Performance. Again, off pace by about half a second, he was unable to break into the 56’s.  A 57’516 was the best the team could come up with.  This car broke the mic on my phone in the morning when I was recording it warming up for the first session – you can see the video here.

Pushing to break his goal during the afternoon session, Matayoshi went off coming out of the last turn – he got caught up correcting some oversteer, locked his brakes and coasted into the foam.  Not heavily damaged, but the day was over for him.

The Car Shop Dream FD, a WTAC Open Class competitor, was one of the few cars to improve on their best time.

Tetsuhiro ended the day with a 55’682 – good for sixth place in Turbo class.

I spent about an hour looking at the newly revised TFR FD3S.  I can’t get over how good the car looks.  From the molded Panspeed to the all new custom aero; the car was truly rebuilt from the ground up.  A tangible explanation of Kiyotaka’s absence from the sport over the past years; and a worthy one at that.  This was the debut of the car in a public sense, and the team used it as an opportunity to test the car – it had little track time and no officially recorded times.

I’ll have a closer look at this car up soon.

ASM’s bid to stay on top of the S2000’s.  You can check out a full article on the car here.

And tailing right behind it is the bright green, Arvou backed S2000.  This was one of my favorite cars at the event – for good reason.

Tokue was on hand to defend his title as fastest NA FF at TC2000.  Unfortunately, the day just didn’t add up for him and the Work team.  Ton and his ASLAN built, K-series EG6 was able to top the timesheets and strip the title from Tokue; 56.546 compared to Tokue’s old record of 56.748.  Very, very close battle.

Komi and Suwa  – a good match for one another.

Iwata was on hand assisting his drivers all day.  Kubo was shooting to further solidify his radial record but was off pace by a few tenths.  It will be an incredible feat when he breaks into the 58’s on radials – I have no doubt he will do it.

I love watching his driving.  It’s very ‘knife edge’ like.

The Orange Ball crew has been hard at work on their flagship DC5 rebuild as well.  They used this event as their shakedown as well and were able to garner a 58.226 – a personal best!

This DC2, while not the most refined build, was still able to break into the 59’s.

Just goes to show that I wasn’t kidding about the unique variety throughout the paddock.  I do my best to look at every car, because often times I find little bits of useful takeaways I can use on my own car back home.

There were a few RWB Porsches on hand, including Nagashima is no stranger to Attack, but I was pleasantly surprised to see many other RWB cars as well.  Doing their part to break the stereotype that these are built just for show.  Nagashima ended up posting a 56’5 – shattering his best time by a full second.  Well done.

The M’s Machine Works Cayman GT3 stole the Porsche show for me however.  The car was down for awhile leading up to the event while Isao-san waited on some parts from Germany.  Glad to see it is up and running in top form again.  Before this event, the best time was just about a 59 flat.  He was able to chop it down to a 58 flat.

Ando, now a staple character of the paddock, was shooting to hit a 56.9…and did it!  A 56.899 cleared him of his goal, and with that, he is now a 56 runner.

As you can imagine he was pretty stoked.

The Full Stage, NA 20B, took the award for best sounding car of the day.  Shooting out of the first hair pin it sounded like a high-strung Formula car.  Easily taking the NA class out with a 55.595, and resetting the NA record, it was consistent all day long.

Even for me this post has been rather lengthy, so I’m going to call it and let you enjoy the rest of the photos.  I’ll do my best to get out closer looks at some of the cars in the coming weeks.  I will also have an update on my personal car, and a preview of this year’s merchandise (which is in the works already!).  So stay tuned, and enjoy the rest of Winter.




  1. Nice work mate. Looking forward to shooting Tsukuba in the future.

  2. Keep up the good work, great photos and write-up. It’s inspiring me to take my UK e46 M3 Tim Attack car to the next level.

  3. Midtenn86

    Any more information on the BBQ Roadster entry? I posted it on Miata aero discussion and some folks were pretty interested in it.

    • Owned by Kaoru Inoue, a privateer. Motor has about 230hp, car weighs 810kg. Uses 225/45/16 A050’s. A mix of custom and Garage Vary aero.

      • Thanks! There are a few folks starting to push the Miata’s in TA here in the states. Mostly with turbo’s and engine swaps though.

      • Yeah, I’ve seen a few – it’s a popular FR chassis to start out with.

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