Self-tasked with building the fastest Civic in Japan, Asai-san and Sapporo based shops GNR Racing and Rise-Up Garage, are constantly modifying the setup on their flagship EK9. Their hard work is paying off as they close in on the FF NA Record at TC2000.
Initially built for endurance racing in Hokkaido’s Tokachi Speedway, Asai’s GNR Racing EK9 is now completely dedicated to time attack at Tsukuba Circuit. Asai, working closely with GNR Racing, which is the only RH9 shop in the Northern island, have completely transformed the car for time attack. In it’s current state, it is undoubtedly in contention to overtake Ryo in the Yellow Factory EG6.
Just to provide a timeline of progress, when we first wrote about this build in 2019, the team ran a 57 second lap time at Attack Tsukuba. That time, albeit fast, was a step back from their best of 56.738; which at the time was extremely quick, but still shy of any competitive records in the FF NA class. Fast forward to today, and this season leaves them just .089 hundredths away from the record time of 55.984 (Ryo YF EG6), with a 56.073; a time difference that is literally faster than a blink of an eye. The work they put in over the past year has really closed that gap, and one of their trump cards has been the new engine setup; a 4Piston built K27.
That’s not the only upgrade, however, and with revised aero, suspension tweaks, and more data analysis, it’s only a matter of time before they break the 55 second barrier.
I know this hasn’t been published yet, but if you follow us on IG, you’ll know that Asai and the GNR/Rise Up team actually broke the FF NA Course Record on Sunday, the 13th of March. Here is the excerpt and translation from Rise Up:
“Tsukuba Circuit NA-FF course record established!
March 13, 2022. On the first day of the expedition, I took a ferry to Oarai Port and immediately headed to Tsukuba Circuit.
Of course I was aiming for FF-NA records as well as Blue Civic …
I couldn’t drive properly due to various troubles, but I repaired the troubles one by one and ran with used tires …
Came out! !! !! 55 seconds 964! !!
FF-NA course record established! Congratulations to Acai! !!
In addition, I went to aim for the target time of 55 seconds 4, but I was retired due to engine trouble.”
Very impressive, considering they were under a sort of arrive and drive scenario, and that they went sub 55 on used tires after dealing with issues. Makes me think that this car really could get close to low 55’s like they intend. Is it possible we can see a FF NA car in the 54 range in the future?
The team preparing the car during this year’s Attack practice event.
The car still utilizes the same Ohlins suspension with closely guarded specifications, including spring rates that have yet to be disclosed.
New rear wing modifications were made to the Voltex mounts to help increase stability and promote cleaner and laminar air flow. Nothing can be overlooked when you’re at the limit, looking for time at this level.
The new carbon hood sheds even more weight from the Civic, and increases it’s stature in the pits. The car now weighs a mere 850kg (1,873 pounds), 15kg less than last seasons.
A Work Shop Takumi carbon dash cleanly replaces the older carbon replica OE unit that was previously used. The whole of the interior has been cleaned up quite nicely, as the fuel cell and sump have been moved from the passenger side to the rear of the car.
The car utilizes a staggered wheel and tire setup not unlike the other FF competitors in Attack. Using the tried and true Advan A050 compound, a 295/35/18 is mounted up front, and a 225/45/17 series is used in the rear. Although the team has mentioned wanting to use a 315 series in the front sometime soon.
The new power unit. While the engine is completely new, the V mounted, and ducted radiator and cooler remain, albeit slightly modified. The 4Pistons K27, tuned with a Haltech Elite 1500 ECU, puts out a healthy and reliable 340ps, about 40-50 more than their previous K24.
The same Endless brake kit up front remains, as well as their OE brake caliper in the rear with Endless rotor and pad.
Canards have been removed for a more streamlined front end, relying on the splitter and end plates to provide downforce.
The project of Asai’s EK has been so successful and widely popular, that as of a few years ago, the Rise Up team have begun to campaign Chonan Shinji’s EK as well; the yellow build you see here next to Asai.
If you recall, during the 2020 Tsukuba Attack event, this car had a bad off on the final turn and hit the barrier traveling very quickly, all but destroying the front end. Luckily the engine was relatively unharmed, and the damage was mostly cosmetic thanks to the barriers at Tsukuba. By the next month the team was already assembling an entirely new, tube frame and reinforced front end for the yellow EK.
Back in 2020, Chonan had just broken the minute barrier at TC2000 before the accident, but similar to Asai’s progress in the blue EK9, Chonan has advanced as well. Now with a best time of 58.435, he is now seeing the sort of times you would expect out of the car. It’s always great to see the hard work pay off; I remember when he first broke the minute barrier and he and the team were cheering in the pits. It’s seriously the best feeling.
In taking a closer look at this car, you’ll spot some similarities between the two Civics, but in comparing time in development, the yellow EK is still a good ways behind.
AP Racing 5000+ front brake calipers and Endless rotors with the OE rear counterparts make up the bulk of stopping power for this car.
Custom valved Spirit dampers with Swift springs are used to keep the car steady on track.
A custom, titanium straight pipe exhaust is routed through the subframe and out the middle of where the spare tire well would be. This was a similar setup to what I was going to run on my Civic before I sold it.
Rise Up dry carbon hood.
Chonan’s K20A engine is producing about 260ps. Before Tsukuba, they tested a variety of different exhaust manifolds and found that their 4-1 setup produced the most power.
A similar wheel/tire stagger to Asai’s is also used on this car with a 295/30/18 front and a 235/45/17 rear Advan A050.
This car also has the new dry carbon rear gate that Asai’s EK has. Both cars run a rear camera to be able to see on track.
It sure looks good out on circuit – really good ride height for being on 18/17 inch wheels. The lower, larger aero certainly plays a role in achieving this look.
Chonan himself warming up the car before his session.
Well, now that we know Asai has reset the course record, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year, and next season play out with the FF NA competitors. This season was quite spectacular in the shear amount of personal best times that were reset. The course is getting unbelievably fast…
It all leads up to more and more exciting content, and we couldn’t be more ready – thanks for reading!