Event: Speed And Sound Trophy – Option Superlap

The Speed and Sound Trophy is, all things considered, a newer event held annually at Tsukuba Circuit.  Hosted by a handful of well-known media publications that include names like Option, REVSPEED, Autosport, G-Works, and Motor Head, it attempts to bring together all facets of motor sport for enthusiasts of any kind to enjoy equally.  The end result is an event that keeps the track busy with time attack competitions, demonstration runs from old and current race cars, guest driver personalities, GT cars, drift exhibitions, and car shows.  Of course, what we’re interested in is the Option hosted Superlap competition.

SST was first held in the Winter of 2015, and it quickly caught on with the Attack guys as a way to get more track time.  Typically, many of the frequent competitors use this event as a practice day in the weeks leading up to the Attack Championships.  For whatever reason, this year was somewhat sparse as there were only a handful of competitors competing in the Superlap event.  Possibly due to the fact that there were a good amount of events sandwiching the SST, including the Petronas G.T.C.C. Cup following just a few days later.  Nevertheless, the day was still filled with the drama that is associated with the sport of time attack; when purpose built cars are pushed to their limits it usually makes for an eventful day.

Ando and the Escort team were on hand in full competition mode bright and early in the morning.  Their program only gets more and more serious as they aim to take the top spot at TC2000.

Plenty of tire, tools, and parts for any situation that may arise during testing (aside from a new engine…).

Getting the opportunity to see this car up close on multiple occasions now has really allowed me to appreciate the thought and work that’s gone into the car.  The thought of it only serving as a practice car initially seems all but abandoned now.

Almost everything on the car is custom, and if not, it’s top of line from well-known aftermarket companies.  My favorite part is still this exhaust diffuser.

The engine still holding strong after it’s long tour South to Australia and back.  Although, it would later show it’s age at this event…read below.

Buttoning up the tech inspection…

…and Ando was ready to hit the circuit, looking for a new personal best.

It wasn’t meant to be though, as the motor had other plans. Perhaps the most dramatic thing, actually for sure the most dramatic thing, happened halfway through the first session when the EVO threw a rod coming into the front straight.  The windshield was quickly engulfed in flames shooting up through the hood vents as Ando pulled over to the side.  The track crew was quick to extinguish the flames, but obviously the team’s day was over; only laps after it began.

The scorched hood is proof that Ando is living up to his nickname ‘Fire’.

After the fact, Ando and the crew were in good spirits, as is typical in Japan.  Aligned with some of the best engine builders in Japan, I can’t imagine they were overwhelmed with having to assemble a new one; cost aside.

Sure did a number on the block.

Friend of the show Eisuke Sato was in attendance in his rather good looking, Autobahn backed, GTR32.  He’s been a bit more active this coming season than in the past; I hope that’s an indication we’ll be seeing more of him and his car at some upcoming events.

The Saitama native has long been running sub-minute laps, and is looking to break into the 57’s after consistently running mid 58-second laps at TC2000.

It’s fun to follow his progress as I get to see him at our FRS pop-up meets every few months.

The Rasty supported JZA was also in attendance – you  may remember this car from last year’s Attack Championship as many people made it a point to make a comment about the double GT wing setup.  Despite the oddity of running two rear wings of varying sizes, the driver (Nobue) is able to squeeze out a 58 second lap – good enough for top honors in Second Class at Attack.

With 700 horsepower pushing the car around, it no doubt has enough power to fight against the drag, but really, who knows if the wing setup works or hinders the car…I don’t.

Rasty is a well-respected shop, so maybe they’re onto something…or at least trying to be onto something.

The Agent K/SGR Works S13 is back after a fairly long stint of down-time (I haven’t really seen it since the end of 2016).  You’ll remember back then that the car used to be a coupe.  A shell swap to a hatchback gave the car some new life, and the opportunity to rebuild the chassis.  The car has been revamped with a plethora of new goodies and motor work.

I’m biased when it comes to S-chassis’ as I’ve always preffered coupes, but this looks pretty great.

Looking good out on track.

54-second runners Autobahn were in attendance with their carbon Soarer.  The team has some pretty hefty plans for 2019 and will be shooting to contend with the Frontrunners this season.  Expect to see some lower lap times in the coming months.Kunihiko lookin’ like a cool guy while the crew prep the car.

Iiri and the Full Stage team were also there to take advantage of the track time.

They weren’t the only rotary powered car in the shootout though, as a familiar face was present as well…

As usual, Ando was on-hand with his Scoot supported RX-7 – looking as good as ever.

Ando approved.

Everything looks better when it’s low to the ground.

Not a big turnout, but the teams that were there were all high quality, not to mention fast.  Looking forward to heading back to Japan soon to begin work on Volume 2 of 80R.  I’ll be sure to keep the site updated as much as time allows me, but I’m currently traveling so everything has a bit of a rushed feel to it.

We have a lot of big things planned for 2019 – stay tuned!