There’s a small community of time attack drivers in Japan that dedicate themselves to the FF base; a chassis that has, arguably, many more challenges to overcome on track than it’s counterpart. Despite the handicap that these cars have initially, to the people who have devoted their time and knowledge into producing the best, the joy that comes along with victory outweighs any doubt of potential. As is the case with all Garage Work cars, and especially so for Yusuke Tokue and his EK4.
The Sunday after the first Evome event of the year, I commandeered Sekinei’s Nissan Cube and trekked across the Tokyo Bay towards Chiba to visit Iwata and the boys at Garage Work. Jay came along as well as he’s never been to the shop and wanted to meet everyone. The plan was to hang out for a little bit, and talk about some pending business stuff, but the shop is such a laid back place that it’s easy to spend hours there hanging out.
There is a consistency to the cars that come out of the Work camp. They most certainly take a different approach to other shops in the same discipline, and I think that that is what sets them apart from the rest. Mildly modified, naturally aspirated B-series engines that are catered more towards reliability than high power are what you’ll find in nearly every car the shop works on. Not one for high horsepower builds, Garage Work shines in the area of suspension tuning and chassis modification of their lightweight Hondas. This distinct facet of Iwata’s tuning shows throughout each car he touches. Sato Kakuchi’s DC2 is a perfect embodiment of the shop’s raw persona.
With the seemingly never-ending popularity of Mazda’s 90’s classic, the RX7, it’s not uncommon for it’s successor, the RX-8, to get overlooked. At the time, the newly introduced Renesis engine, while a great performer at high RPM, lacked torque and overall power; mainly due to the extreme efficiency of the engine to meet strictly enforced emissions laws. Because of this, the naturally aspirated 1.3 liter rotary seemed to always get passed on for it’s older, turbocharged counterpart. Wanting to prove the RX-8’s worth, and to help stoke parts development of the chassis, Aoki-san at Revolution took on the task of building the ultimate RX-8. The first step? Ditching the Renesis motor for a naturally aspirated 20B.
As we landed back in Narita on the evening of the 12th, I couldn’t help but feel like I hadn’t even left the country. The sun had just began to set through the scattered clouds on the horizon and the diffused, orange glow of the afternoon’s last rays forced it’s way through the aircraft windows and into my eyes. It had only been 3 weeks since I was last in Japan, a travel duration that becomes the norm during this time of year; the hectic 3 month period when time attack events are at their peak. Actually, back in the States, I was so busy with new contracts at work and getting the store up that I hardly had time to post any content on site before heading back. Nevertheless, I had returned to Japan and first thing in the morning we would make our way back to Tsukuba for the second, and final, round of Battle Evome.
I ran into Masaki this weekend at the second round of Battle Evome at Tsukuba Circuit. He was not driving his shops demo car, however, but his street ‘practice’ Porsche 996. On radials, he had hoped to get a still respectable 1’05.000 out of the German made sports car (and if I recall correctly he ended up lapping in the 1’03 range). We made small talk about his drive to Tsukuba from Kobe, and the day’s unseasonably warm weather. The conversation didn’t linger on the day’s drive for too long though, and I soon changed the subject to that of his flagship build; the Craft Company FD3S.
There’s a strange equality to winter, I think. It’s a balance that can only come with the sacrifice of life; a level playing field for all beings; a restart to a long year of effort and hard work of rebuilding from the previous season’s eradication. It sounds rather bleak, but it gives us, it gives everything, a chance to reestablish a new, improved form. It provides an opportunity to apply what we’ve learned from the past, to return stronger, an enhanced version, and if all goes as planned, a superior adaptation to that of last year. And so it is each year for the competitors of Battle Evome.
I’d say that, after three years of attending Evome, the one thing I really get excited for is seeing everyone again, as well as meeting new friends. The privateer ‘Attack’ season in Japan is such a short lived experience each year that my time with the drivers is fairly brief. This is somewhat of a Catch 22 because while it does make each encounter much more special, I end up having to divide my time between talking to people and photographing the hour long event; and with just 3-4 Evome events a year, my time becomes very limited (especially not living in Japan).
Last year I was able to chat with Ejima-san about the car he has built over the past several years, at his shop TFR, to compete in the sport of Time Attack. Just by being around him, I was able to get a feel for the type of person he is and how his personality ties into his driving. It’s a duo I’ve come to enjoy watching over the past events, and it’s nice to be able to revisit the build again this year.
As I sit in front of my gate at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, with the hopes (although very little) of catching an earlier flight back to California, my mind can’t help but wander back towards days that I enjoy more than those of which I spend inside the depths of US airports; which I relate now more or less to that of a colony of bees. Filled to the brim with people going about their every which way, connecting to cities across the expanse of the Earth, each with a unique task to complete (varying in importance). The days on my mind? Those of which are spent in Japan, at the circuits which I’ve grown all too comfortable being at…
59.051 seconds is what it took Iida-san to pilot his Elite Racing Company built FD around the 14 turns of Tsukuba’s TC2000. It’s no surprise though, knowing ERC’s knowledge of rotary tuning, that Iida had the capability of achieving such a time. The Saitama based shop, run by Ohya Masaatsu is not only one of the leading shops in rotary tuning, but they can also boast for having literally the most amount of random links on their website that I have ever seen. Click past the break for more shots.
While no doubt popular in it’s day for it’s nimble handling, performance, and excellent gas mileage, I wonder if Honda ever imagined the capability that their CR-X would have on circuit nearly 30 years after it’s inception? This particular example, hailing from the camp of G-Work, is no doubt a testament to the capability of the tiny chassis. Barreling through TC2000 in a mere 1’02.419, the NA B-series powered CR-X can hold definitely hold it’s own. Click past the break for a gallery of shots on track at Tsukuba Circuit.
Saitama native Nakashima Tomoyoshi, or Tomo for short, is an avid fan of the RX-7. Unique in many ways, the car has stolen his attention for better half of several years. Before he built the FD you see here, Tomo was the proud owner of a white Savanna FC.
Like the majority of people competing in time attack events in Japan, Takanori Seyama is the owner of a shop that deals with car sales and procurement. Located on a quiet street in the heart of Ryugasaki, Ibaraki, his shop, Seyamax, not only houses his inventory of cars for sale, but is also headquarters for what Takanori really loves to do; and that is to race. Over the past couple years he has built, and perfected his car of choice to become as fast as possible. His R32, dubbed ‘Real Of The World’, is no slouch on TC2000. His 2015 target time is set at 57.5 seconds around Tsukuba, and with a personal best of 57.970 to back it, it seems a very reasonable goal to accomplish.
The automatic doors opened and a rush of chilled winter air, mixed with the morning’s new sunlight, hit my face as I reluctantly left the warm comfort of the conbini. Surprised, as if for some reason I had forgotten about the cold already, I fumbled to pull my neck warmer up with my hands full of coffee and various pastries. Leaning up against the passenger side of the BMW, my warm breath visibly creating a fog around my head, I waited for Sekinei to exit the 711 to unlock the car and rescue me from the cold. It was 5am on a Monday morning, I had landed in Japan 12 hours ago, and with just 4 hours of sleep to my credit, we were off – headed to the countryside of Tsukuba where we would rendezvous with Japan’s fastest privateers as they prepare to take on the first round of Battle Evome.
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