A Different Perspective – Asai’s Determination to Succeed

I enjoy reading about the experiences of others in time attack racing.  It’s refreshing to learn of the perseverance over hardships, and the determination that others have despite things not always going to plan, through the eyes of others.  In racing, especially at this level, the only guarantee is that something will eventually go wrong.  It takes an incredible amount of resolve to push yourself season after season to get to the top.  I have the opportunity to see it through a wide lens, an overview of the drivers and teams, and how their programs progress throughout each year.  As useful as that view is, I often times miss the small meaningful moments that can make or break a record; of course, it’s impossible to be everywhere at all times.  So when I write the more in-depth articles for the website, or for 80R, I rely heavily on the accounts of the drivers, the mechanics, and the friends that are around at various times.  I crowd source the information and put it together to create a cohesive timeline of events as if I were there through the entire thing.  Rarely do I come across someone who writes out in long form their own experiences in this regard.  After discovering that my friend Atsushi Hirano’s (owner of APJ) employee Kasai-san had written a recap of his experience with assisting Asai-san in taking the NA record the day of Attack, I really wanted to share it.  The way he describes the troubleshooting, and the joy in achievement just seemed so true.


Mr. Hirano is pictured on the left


The following are the words written by Kasai-san from his and Mr. Hirano’s experience from the blog on the APJ website.  I translated the text and ran it through OpenAI to make it grammatically correct.  The accompanying photos are, of course, taken by myself for the site and book:


The “Attack” event took place at Tsukuba Circuit on February 17th, where the “Asai Civic” set the fastest record for FF NA. This vehicle has received full support from our company, APJ, and we have faced numerous challenges over the past year, including machine and engine settings, as well as extensive testing. Our CEO has shared a memoir on Facebook, limited to his friends, capturing the moment when the fastest record was achieved. Our company always strives to develop and sell parts while envisioning a product that delights our customers. This article embodies our dedication.

Hence, as an employee, I, Kasai, would like to introduce it here as well. It may be a lengthy post, but I believe the final sentence encapsulates it all. I hope you will read it through and experience the spirit of APJ.

Behind the scenes of the Tsukuba NA record, titled “Asai-san’s Determination to Succeed.”

I wish to document the details of the day and the backstage happenings surrounding Asai-go’s record published on February 17th as a personal memorandum. Apologies for the long sentence.

On the day of the event, only the vehicle was displayed. The anticipation began on the morning of February 17th, the day prior.

When we arrived at the usual time of 5:30 in the morning, the local temperature was -3 degrees Celsius. It was already 9:00 AM when the run commenced. Surprisingly, the atmospheric pressure measured 1,028hPa, whereas it had been around 1,013 units since the beginning of the year. It is said that when the pressure exceeds 1,020, the conditions for setting a time are favorable. Such instances of ideal temperature and pressure occur only a few times a year, and this was the day! I was filled with excitement.

Asai, who is based in distant Sapporo, rents a garage near Tsukuba to store his vehicle. He is a person who pours his incredible passion into maintaining his car and makes countless trips to Tsukuba on his own.

Therefore, even if a gasket falls out or an engine component breaks, we have no choice but to address it in the cold local area by morning. To assist with that, I bring a kerosene heater along (it takes me one hour to drive to Tsukuba, haha).

On the morning of the day, when I attempted to start the engine as usual, it wouldn’t start. It stopped after the initial explosion, making it quite challenging.

This vehicle experiences a dead cell after a few attempts to crank it. Why is that? Well, it’s due to an absurd compression ratio of 15:1 or higher. We’ve tried every cell available so far. Even if we replace the contents with brass gears, the power output is still insufficient compared to commercially available products. The only option left is to replace the cell every few cranks. Hence, it’s necessary to have 10 of them prepared. Unbelievable, right? (smile) There’s no use rushing. Even if I connect the booster, it still won’t turn.

Yes, let’s hurry up and replace it! Mr. Asai, who is accustomed to such situations, quickly gave up (laughs), so I replaced the old cell and plug with a new one. As you can see, Mr. Asai, being used to this, swiftly replaces it while saying, “I’m overwhelmed.” I changed it, started the engine, and this time managed to move to the paddock without any further issues. The ultimate vehicle has no moments of rest.

First things first, turn on the tire warmer and proceed with the usual routine. At tomorrow’s ATTACK performance, the road surface will undoubtedly be rough due to oil pouring out. Let’s aim for the best today in perfect conditions! And from this point on, Mr. Asai’s spirit was different from his usual self.




First, let’s recall his personal best of 55.964 during the HKS run on March 10th last year. It was the first time he entered the 55-second range and set the FF NA record. Last season, no matter how many times he ran, the gasket would fall out, and he would spend the night repairing it in the garage. Just thinking about it was terrifying. It was a series of troubles no matter how many times he attempted. Even the important ATTACK did not materialize. It’s frustrating, and I can’t return to Sapporo empty-handed! So, he stayed and withdrew, looking for another driving event afterwards. It’s March now, when the temperature has risen, and it’s finally time to make progress.

At this time, the FF category had the fastest NA division. M’s Cayman GT3 Porsche achieved 55.509, the 3-rotor peri RX7 achieved 55.595, and Asai Civic recorded 55.964, only 0.4 seconds behind. Is it impossible for a popular Civic 4-cylinder engine to compete with an expensive Porsche or Rotary? No, giving up is not an option! He spent the entire year diligently preparing with all his heart.

Well, let’s begin the first run at 9:00 AM when the conditions are optimal. Remove the warmer and install the wheels. I set off on the course at the perfect timing, and the result was 55.627. “Yes!” I thought, although it was a fleeting moment.  Asai was surpassed by TON in the same session, which emerged for the first time in several years. Unbelievable, a 55.585.  The end is nerve-wracking… ASLAN TON…

If we run another lap in this world, maybe we can achieve a better time? It’s a realm beyond words. There’s no choice but to decide in one lap, in a single, decisive attempt… However, the time difference is minimal. There’s no other option but to push harder on the next run! Let’s bet on the second run at 10 o’clock next time! We all agreed. Prepare with the same routine and enter the second course!

When I quickly checked the ECU in the paddock, the engine indicated that there was a sensor disconnected. Why? I immediately connected the PC and upon examining it, I found numerous, mysterious errors, including various trigger and sensor errors.

So, is it a sensor issue or a disconnection?  Pondering this, we decided to disconnect and reconnect the coupler and give it a shake (laughs).

The two of us consulted, and regardless, the essential information needed for the engine to run is cylinder discrimination and cam position detection. Considering that the disconnection and coupler issue is not unusual, we can only assume it’s a sensor problem!

What about spare parts? None! Wait, there is! I remembered I had loaded a spare engine into the Prius the day before, just in case! It was parked nearby, so I took out two cam sensors from the spare engine and replaced them. After erasing the error codes and restarting, suddenly everything worked!




Hooray! You did it! I thought, but the fix came towards the end of the session running time, we couldn’t run anymore…

At that moment, the entire team silently sighed in their hearts. Then, Mr. Asai, let’s run in the afternoon! You have to do it! And with that, Asai’s expression changed.

The next run is scheduled for 2:00 PM. Despite the cold, the temperature at 2:00 PM is the highest of the day… But I have to give it my best! And that’s when Asai’s expression displayed utmost determination.

It’s the exact embodiment of “preparedness to die.”

And Mr. Hirano! Please scrape the fresh tires as before. Install fresh ones on the rear!

I, too, had concerns and pondered over it. I aimed to create the grippiest surface on the tires and warm them up. I scraped them a little and checked the tread corners multiple times to make the surface as clean as possible while spraying water to prevent overheating. Then, I wrapped them with the warmer for further warm-up. Let’s discuss further here.

Mr. TON’s Sector 3 is abnormally fast. Maybe this GS tire is suitable for the infield with intense time and G-force, but is it lacking at the last corner?

In that case, let’s lower the warmer temperature and try to balance the car at the final corner. Let’s bet that the maximum grip will come out in the end! On the other hand, in Sector 1, the grip might not be sufficient, so the driver needs to adapt.

The rev is at 8,300 rpm. I’ll aim for a better time by revving it up without letting off the accelerator during shift up! Asai’s expression perfectly conveys “preparedness to die.” I survived the final corner and emerged victorious!

Even though I entered the course as usual, I couldn’t let go of my hands, praying.

The sound that could be heard from the course, invisible from the pit, was good. The engine was running smoothly!

And as I stared at the final corner, despite being a front-wheel drive, the front and rear wheels swayed, and I utilized the full width of the course, conquering it! He survived!

As soon as I saw the monitor, I jumped up in excitement. 55 seconds 144! I already had goosebumps. It had been a while since I felt such excitement at this age.



Asai returned to the paddock with white smoke billowing out of the “battle-worn” engine, truly showcasing its scars, and even though he was out of breath, he took the driver home.

Well done to me, who had been taking care of the engine for a long time! I teared up upon returning. It held up remarkably well…

It was the moment when I surpassed a luxury car with a popular Honda Civic and stood at the top of the entire NA category.

I was deeply moved, unable to put it into words. Mr. Asai, exhausted as he was, jumped up in joy. Looking at the sector time, Tsukuba measured 206km, while other Civics managed only 190km. One must envy this power.

It accelerates like a turbo. With a vehicle weight of 820Kg and a power output probably exceeding 450 horsepower, the power-weight ratio reaches an astonishing 1.8 units. Completing Sec3 in 9.869 seconds is an intense world that surpasses 2G forces.

But Mr. TON achieved 190Km and an even more amazing 9.475 seconds in Sec3. I don’t understand why. When you can’t win with your skills alone, the only choice is to increase your power, even if it goes against the rules!

We’ll discuss this further at a later date, but during the actual ATTACK, the ASLAN TON improved its time to 55.2 seconds. I still don’t understand why. It’s like comparing it to aliens (Takisumi).

Then, from 55.9 seconds, I desperately pushed to achieve 55.1 seconds, but it’s still not enough. Who will be the first to achieve 54 seconds in the NA category? We’re rushing towards that goal.

If this time I were to fall short of 55.1 seconds, I would immediately replace the engine, just like last year. I had planned to give my all until early March, but this time it seems to be fine. So both Mr. Asai and I can take a rest (sweat).

Next year, we will undoubtedly enter the realm of 54 seconds. I’ve already begun discussions with Mr. Asai on engine development for next year. Perhaps an aluminum connecting rod specification? (smile)

I can confidently say that we will never lose in terms of engine performance. The amazing results are not solely due to my efforts but the culmination of various professional groups like 4 Piston Racing, Diamond Engineering, Friction, and others in the United States who sympathize with Mr. Asai’s passion and provide their help and support.

4 Piston Racing generously invested, and their president, Luke, along with the engine builders Josh and Sean, rushed over to cheer us on. Passion transcends borders.

That was the drama from the previous day’s run.

If you’re still aiming for the next day’s attack, let’s change the engine immediately, even if it means working overnight! I suggested that, but Mr. Asai was completely exhausted (laughs). As for the next day’s ATTACK production, it’s well-known since many people have uploaded it, so I won’t dare to mention it.

As ATTACK celebrates its 10th anniversary, it’s becoming increasingly popular. It’s a wonderful event comprised of dedicated individuals who work hard and offer their support.

Time attack can be expensive and an intense competition, but it’s true that many people invest their effort and passion into it.

Effort will never betray you. I firmly believe that and will continue to support those individuals as much as I can. That’s what APJ Hirano thinks.




Original text:

2/17に筑波サーキットで行われた“Attack”。そこでFF NA最速記録を達成した「浅井シビック号」。












はじめに、昨年3月10日のHKS走で出した自己ベストは55.964。はじめて55秒台に入り、FF NAレコードを樹立したタイムです。

この時NA部門ではあくまでFF最速。M’s Cayman GT3ポルシェが55.509、3ローターペリのRX7が55.595、浅井シビックは55.964と0.4秒離れている。。

ヤッター!と思ったのも束の間。なんと数年振りに出て来てくれたTON号にやられた。。。まさかの55.585。。末恐ろしいです。ASLAN TON号。。。



パドックで急ぎ確認するとエンジンがバラバラ言っている。。何でだ?? すぐにPCを繋げて見ると謎のエラーが多数。。トリガーエラーやら色々と。。












後日談となりますが、ATTACK本番でそんなASLAN TON号は55.2までまたタイムを上げてきました。これまたワケが分かりません。。宇宙人としか例えようが無い(滝汗)



絶対にエンジンでは誰にも負けない!そう言い切れます。なぜなら凄いのは私では無く、浅井さんの情熱に共感し、助け、支えて下さっているアメリカの4 Piston Racing、ダイアモンドエンジニアリングさん、Frictionをはじめとした多くのプロ集団が作り上げた結晶だからです。

4 Piston Racingなんて大金払って社長のルークを始めエンジンビルダーのJoshやSeanの3人で駆けつけて応援してくれた程です。情熱は国境を越えるんです。




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