Event: TC2000 Flat Out – 2022 Attack Tsukuba Championship

This season of time attack has been quite exciting.  With events being held multiple times a week leading up to the Attack Championship at Tsukuba, we’ve seen many records being broken, incredible progress on builds across the paddock, new rivalries forming, as well as a handful of new entrants stepping into the ring.  The anticipation in the days leading into Attack Tsukuba were as high as ever.

After the past global hardships of 2020 and 2021 led to some less spirited seasons of time attack, I think we’ve all been looking forward to 2022 as our sentiments towards large gatherings, albeit cautiously, begin to warm.  With an impressive 120+ drivers registered, the entry list of Attack Tsukuba was a good indication of the positive change in mindset.  With all eyes focused on Fire Ando in hopes of him being the first to break the sub-50 barrier, it was easy to forget just how many other fast cars there were in attendance. It’s truly spectacular to see the progression in times and the shift it causes in what people think is fast at TC2000 now.  Where it was once believed that any time under 1 minute was the main goal, with the increase in available technology and tire development, that mindset is quickly changing; a 59.9 is now the minimum.  With that being said, however, we’ll be the first to admit that grabbing that sub-minute time is still as sweet as ever, and most certainly something to be celebrated. For reference, 64 of the 123 times clocked at the event were faster than 1 minute – it’s pretty crazy to think that over 50% of the drivers are able to achieve this.

While classing seems to shift around from season to season, for 2022 Attack was broken down into 8 classes; Top Class, NA Class, Real Tuning, Radial Class, K-Series (as in Kei car), Vehicle Manufacturer & Shop Class, U29 Class (for drivers in their 20’s), and EX Class, which is a new class that will eventually take the place of the old ‘Second Class’ and is reserved for exhibition and demo cars that still meet Aoki’s Attack standard.

While Top Class typically has some of the overall fastest times of the event, our focus was on the battle for top honors in the NA Class – specifically the FF NA record.

Ryo and the K series powered Yellow Factory EG6 have yet to be dethroned from their record setting 55.984, but with some serious competition from GNR Racing, Aslan, and Garage Work, that’s a time that will need to be reset in order for him to defend the title for much longer. He’s taken some pretty drastic measures to get his times down, including chopping the entire top of the EG off and lowering the roof a few inches, taking about as much weight as he possibly can out of the car, which was already considerably lightweight.  Ryo managed an incredibly fast 56.219 on the day, taking first place for NA FF, but conditions weren’t fit to reset the record.

GNR Racing and their beautiful EK9 brought the big guns this season with a full billet, 2.7 liter 4Piston built short block.  Reliable power is the path they’ve chosen to crush the NA FF record, and Asai-san is well on his way to do so.  With a 56.754 on the day, the team, like many others were off their mark; as back in February of 2021, Asai hit a blindingly fast 56.073 at TC2000 which put him less than a tenth away from matching Ryo’s time.

We featured this EK9 a few seasons ago, but are working on an update feature for the 2022 season.

Chou-san was able to clock a 58.435 in the now K powered EK – not in the running for the record, but it’s been cool to see him continue to get faster.  Especially considering the bad accident he had on the last turn a few seasons ago.  The car looks better than ever this year.

A NA FF competitor we don’t see too much of at Attack, but is no stranger to TC2000, is the Deepseban/Garage Platina built EF8. A 59.732 put the car just under the one minute mark on the day.  Running a staggered 225/45/16, 205/45/16, and with just 220ps, the little EF8 could certainly be considered a knife among guns.  Good thing it only weighs about 1600 pounds!

The champion of the NA class, however, ended up being Yuta Uemura and the M’s Machine Works Cayman GT3 who really came out swinging.  After taking the title of the fastest Porsche at Tsukuba at the Zummy event prior to Attack with a mid 56 second lap, they returned to Attack and backed it up with an incredible 55.509, narrowly beating out Iiri in the Full Stage FD (55.595 in 2018), to claim the title of fastest NA overall at TC2000.

With the competitiveness of the NA class, I’m sure this is a record that will switch hands numerous times over the next few years – both overall and FF.

Another crowd favorite, Yuki Kamakura’s 4 rotor FD with the coveted Y’s Produce widebody, is also aiming for the NA Class record.  Producing an incredible 600ps, Yuki was able to clock a best of 56.872, leveling up his previous best time of 57.594 by a solid 7 tenths of a second.  Really great progress for the driver who has now taken on the nickname of ‘Thunder Kamakura’ – no doubt due to the insane noises this car makes.

Always great to see the N-One Racing 380RS!  Tajima and I have the same mindset when it comes to building our relative cars (his Z33 and my ISF).  He recently posted on Twitter:

“When I was in the GT-R, I used to see the car only as a fighting tool, but it became so painful that I couldn’t ride it.
It is my rule that Z should run comfortably to the circuit.
He enjoys detouring along the circuit and eating delicious food.
If you have such fun, playing on the circuit will be more fun.”

It’s easy to get carried away in the pursuit of running faster times on track, sometimes to the point where you sacrifice any other utility out of the car.  It seems like we’re both trying to avoid that in these particular cars.  It is best, I think, to have a dedicated track car in addition to a build like this.

The Assist Kyoto M4, with Mr. Taniguchi driving per usual, in the Shop Class this year, was able to improve on their best with a 58.356.  They are still pushing the limits of retaining the luxuries of the BMW, refraining from weight reduction or any major departure from OE spec.

Topping the time sheets, as if anyone had doubts, was Fire Ando and the Team Escort EVO. 50.342, unfortunately not the sub 50 we were hoping for, was the best Ando could muster.  Previous to this event the team updated their best with a new record time around TC2000 of 50.233 (December 2021).  This car is most certainly at the level where track conditions and ambient weather have to be absolutely perfect in order to capitalize on it’s potential.  Ando has shown incredible consistency in his drive – I truly believe we’re just waiting for the right time.  Until then we’ll continue to keep a close eye on the team!

Seyama, in the fastest GTR around Tsukuba, updated it’s record this season with a 53.915 back in January.  Running 54’s during Attack, again shows that conditions weren’t the most ideal.

Rina’s Autoworks K2 Racing FD was looking good on and off track as she competed in the Radial Class this year on Potenza RE-12D tires.  The rotary engine was switched from a bridge ported unit to a side port to help in drivability.  Among the few female drivers in Attack, she was able to clock just above a one minute time – shy of her best of 59.3.

Masaru of NDF Japan was able to capture some pretty nice photos of her car.

It was great to see Shoichiro’s GTR32 out testing again as he has been putting in some major hours into upgrading this thing recently; especially the interior and chassis wiring for the new steering wheel setup.

Hoping that all his hard work pays off and we’ll start to see this car at the race track more often than in the shop!

Running on 335 series Hoosier H7, Kiyo in the Top Fuel FD is also on a bid for the fastest rotary at TC2000 – chasing the highly competitive rotary drivers of Sakamoto, Aoki, Tetsuhiro and Itagaki. Alas he didn’t get any closer, as he was well off pace on the day.  He retains a best time of 54.585.

Just ahead of Kiyo, and one tenth behind Aoki in the rotary battle, is Itagaki in the Arios Okuyama FD with a best time of 54.476.

A somewhat new competitor in the battle is Hashi in the Full Stage FD, this season updated with Under Suzuki aero and a newly TFR built motor.  Check out our Instagram page for more on this car.

The star of the U29 Class, Ouichi was, of course, in attendance at Attack this year – along with several open practice days leading up to the event.  Considering that this car is only running on a ‘boost up’ engine setup, the times he’s able to hit are indicative of a very skilled driver.  Read more about this car, and the ‘RGN Tuning Method’ in our recent feature here.

A 57.214 was good enough for second place honors in the class this year, just behind Shoya in the heavily modified BE CRAFT FD.  It was also a very slight improvement on his overall best.

It was great to see the Garage KU-MA 180SX again; one of only two 180s in Top Class this year…

…the second being Mitsuo and his insane carbon, widebody Onevia (S13).  The 700 horsepower SR, combined with the lightweight 1,000kg weight of the build, and the massive aero, propels this car to be one of the fastest in the series.  He was able to top his best time by a few tenths bringing it down to a 54.124, so close to the 53 second mark.  It was a time that also made him second fastest overall for the day, behind Fire Ando and Escort.

The changes in this car over the past 3 years have been absolutely mind blowing.  We’re it not for the signature green, you’d probably think it were a completely different car.

Watanabe-san and his Sunoco/Garage Mak S15 also compete in the U29 class.  Now equipped with a Holinger sequential, and an array of Under Suzuki aero, he aims for mid-56 second lap times.

It was also great to see Nozaki and the RE Amemiya Racing/Another Way FD.  I first met Nozaki at the Rotary Meeting at Fuji – his build is among the more unique FD’s in the paddock with many personal touches.  Competing in the new EX Class he was able to clock a 58.326. A bit faster than his best, but for a driver that doesn’t drive TC2000 very often, a solid time.

Nozaki lives in Kyushu, which is arguably the furthest you can get from Tsukuba.  He was going to make the trek to Attack with some of the Kyushu Danji guys, but unfortunately Hannita had to cancel the event as his NSX just wasn’t ready in time.  I hope to see Nozaki at his home course of Autopolis soon.

Now a staple in the Japanese attack community, Inose and the Friends Racing crew had a large showing at Attack this year, bringing out their flagship S15, a S14 build, a R35, as well as a new, completely stock GR86 (which Aoki got to drive to a 1’06 haha).  Inose himself drove all the other cars.

Their S15 build, which a lot of people mistakenly called out as the Exceed Moat S14 on the live stream.  I suppose it could look like a refined version of the brother’s Silvia’s, it is actually quite different.

Inose was able to grab a 56.335 in the S15, and a 57.849 in the older S14.

Another unique U29 competitor is Hiro in the Garage HR Evo.  This car also has a lot of unique touches to it.  Excited to say he improved on his best around TC2000 with a 57.989.

The SHAFT Service ER34, built for the purpose of being the fastest FR sedan in Japan, with Under Suzuki behind the wheel, clocked a 57.451 – just about matching his personal best in the car.  After not seeing this car for a few seasons awhile back, I was concerned that SHAFT stopped campaigning it.  It’s been through a lot of changes this season as far as setup is concerned.  Once we’re able to travel freely to Japan again, I’d like to dedicate some time to this car and shop.

Long time friend of NDF, Sato, brought his R32 to try and improve on his best of 58.4 with minimal changes to the car.  Unfortunately, like many others, the conditions just weren’t right to improve.

Another crowd favorite from Hokkaido that’s been racking up the rotary records (Tsukuba, Fuji, Sugo), is Tetsuhiro and the Car Shop Dream 7.  This top competitor is still utilizing the 2 rotor setup, finely honing everything to eventually compete in WTAC.  With a record holding time of 53.489 from 2020, they were well off pace this day, cruising to a 56.272.

The progression of this car has been incredible to watch over the years.

BE CRAFT came out in full force with at least 3 of their cars in attendance, two of which are in the U29 class.  I got a chance to talk to the owner of BE CRAFT, Masayuki, and his son, Shoya, and there’s a good chance in the future you’ll be seeing much more of these cars.

We did a full, in-depth feature of Shoya and his BE CRAFT FD last week, highlighting his position in BE CRAFT, the car’s performance, and how he is dominating the U29 class.

Hirofumi and his BE CRAFT built FD fall under the Top Class umbrella.  He built this car specifically to be the fastest at Maze Circuit, so I’m sure some setup change had to be done for TC2000 running.

He was able to throw down a 58.509, which is over a half second slower than his best, but still a ways off his goal of sub-55.  It seems like the Tsukuba setup still needs some work.

Daichi’s FD is surprisingly among the more mild of BE CRAFT’s builds.  He was able to squeeze out a 59.964, just good enough for the coveted sub minute time.  This car is more than capable of going faster, and with a bit more seat time and time to dial in the setting, I feel we’ll start to see his times drop.

With the 2022 season drawing to a close, it is great to look back and see how active this year has been.  It’s certainly a sign that time attack is as strong as ever, and drivers are continually pushing the limit of what they can do both physically and mentally on track.  Look forward to more features and galleries from Attack in the coming weeks on site!

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