A prominent influence in the Mitsubishi tuning domain, Garage G-Force has spent the last decade fighting to solidify a name for themselves as the number-one Evolution tuning company in Japan. That fight, however, hasn’t been easy.
Every once in awhile a car comes around that emanates a youthful disposition throughout the paddock. A somewhat adolescent, not yet fully refined look alludes to the driver being in more of an exploratory phase of driving; a stark contrast to those that have been driving for decades.
There seems to be at least one privateer in every class of time attack that is always looming just behind the top teams record times. They typically don’t have the resources afforded to them from owning a shop, and usually rely on the knowledge of a particular ‘support’ shop to assist them in getting their cars to where they want them. Despite their disadvantage, they close the gap to the frontrunners of the sport, time and time again. Yoshitaka Ishii and his bright green S2000 are a prime example of this.
The uniqueness of time attack as a motor sport comes in the form of precise continuity. If the slightest error is made anywhere on the track, the moment of contention is lost. Many times there exists only one chance, where conditions are aligned, that the drivers who live on the limit are able to achieve record laps. There is a feeling of tension, exclusive to the sport that makes it so appealing to it’s participants and fans. Man and machine working together harmoniously, becoming one, in an unforgiving waltz that carries them to the peak of their abilities.
There are so many cool builds in the paddock of any given Attack event in Japan, that I often fail to acknowledge just how in-depth some of the builds are. As the sport progresses, and the participants seek to go faster and faster, their machines eventually begin to become a reflection of their drive. Putting budget aside, I’d have to say that the ASM Yokohama S2000 is one of the premiere examples of this idea. This particular build, which ASM has been developing for over a decade, all but reached the peak of it’s very active life in the last weekend of February.
There’s no doubt that, in Japanese motor sport, one name stands out among the rest. In almost everything they do, they need to be on top. The fastest, the most advanced. HKS will stop at nothing to collect these titles, and the TRB-03 has become their newest vessel to achieve them. The company has enveloped it’s priority in the project with the goal of being nothing less than the fastest around Tsukuba’s TC2000. It was even re-branded as the ‘Tsukuba Record Breaker’, from it’s original designation as the GTS800; a tip of the hat to it’s capped power level (which is debatable…). The car has been through extensive testing over the past year, and last weekend at HKS Day, I was able to finally get a closer look at it.
I feel like ever since the Cyber Evo set the standard for what a successful attack EVO should be, Mitsubishi devotees have been trying to redefine the level of what is considered top tier. Average power levels have risen, aerodynamics play a much larger role now, and tuning has come such a long way in the past decade that it’s almost hard to keep up. Even the Cyber Evo wasn’t immune to the changes; in the 2011 to 2012 transition, in order to defend their title, Takizawa turned to C-West in hopes of gaining an advantage in aerodynamics without unbalancing the winning formula they had. Competition in the sport was advancing so quickly that it soon became apparent that if you weren’t improving, you were for sure going to be left behind.
A couple weeks ago Zummy held one of the first open time attack events of the what is considered the ‘prime’ season at TC2000; temps have dropped, and track conditions are ideal for fast times. Many of the amateur drivers used this as an opportunity to shakedown their summer upgrades. We saw a lot of modifications to existing builds, as well as the debut of many newer entries to the ever-growing niche. It didn’t take long for the returning drivers to see the fruits of their labor, and within laps personal bests were being racked up across the board.
Once every year, on July 7th, tuners and enthusiasts from around the country celebrate Mazda’s shining triumph of engineering. The RX-7, to many, is so much more than a car; it’s an engineering marvel. The unique rotary motor a triangular pariah in a sea of ordinary, piston driven combustion. The chassis of the FD so perfectly geared towards time attack, has become a symbol of the sport in Japan. On this date, thousands will come together in honor of this car worldwide, with the epicenter being Tsukuba Circuit.
Up until this past attack season, I had never met Mr. ‘Harunana’ but I had stumbled across his Minkara page a few years ago. Back then his DC5 looked quite a bit different. The car’s exterior was much more sparse, and I can imagine the car was actually a lot heavier as well. But a lot can change over the course of a couple years, and this DC5 is testament to that.
At the beginning of the year, after seeing Yusuke at both Evome events, I had realized that I never really posted much of his EVO. We chatted a bit after the second event, and he mentioned that the car had been acting less than ideal. Which shows in the lap times; nearly a full second off his January time. Still, he’s come a long way with his build and it was Kaz at Unlimited Works that set him on the right track.
Back in November we took a close look at the Shaft built ER34 Skyline at the Attack event at Tsukuba; you can check that article out here. Being the immense admirer of four-door Skylines that I am, I shot a whole bunch more photos of it at Battle Evome this year. After talking to Suzuki personally about the car, I gained a whole new level of respect for the build.
Hailing from the cold North of Hokkaido, FD specialists Car Shop Dream can claim the rights to one of the most unique looking FD’s in Japanese time attack. As you would imagine, due to the distance, it’s not often that Kurokawa-san and his team get out to Tsukuba. As a result, they don’t get as much seat time at the track as some of the other locals. Despite this, Kurokawa has piloted his 600whp build to a personal best of 57.880. Ultimately, after achieving times more close to the 55 second range at Tsukuba, he’d really like to shoot for competing in WTAC. The car is an ongoing project, so who knows? Check out some pictures past the break.
Just two short months ago, G-Force took this EVO to TC2000 to let Tanaguchi fling it around some corners during an open test day. The car ran an impressive high 55 second lap; and I can assure you, it looked nothing like this. The car’s exterior, then, was clad in a variety of Varis parts, and while it was a bit wider than OE, it was still relatively non-threatening in appearance. Fast forward to TAS and the car that was displayed at their booth was a new beast entirely.
I had a couple more shots Sekinei sent over from the Attack event last month that I processed real quick; thought I’d just clump them together in a bonus gallery to start your week off on the right foot. Probably should have just included them in one of the two posts, but I think I may have gotten side tracked haha. Don’t want them to go to waste, so click past the break to see the gallery.
We pick up at Tsukuba right as the green flag for the first session drops. I’ve always thought the anticipation of a Time Attack event is second only to the time the cars take to the track. The consuming sound of the high reeving engines, late breaking into corners, the snapping of the cars as they oversteer out of the turns; it’s almost too much excitement to handle. Let’s head track-side for the second round of Monday’s coverage; click the break to see the action.
Attack season in Japan officially kicked off with the first Attack Fever event being held at Tsukuba’s infamous TC2000. The event drew a good amount of participants, no doubt eager to start racing once again. While the weather ended up taking a turn for the worse halfway through the morning, there was still enough time for a handful of ideal laps to be thrown down.
Shaft Auto Service, a small outfit in Hachioji that specializes in four door Skylines. Foremost a car dealership that holds inventory in a wide variety of Skylines, the owner, Shibuya Taro, offers many ancillary services ranging in everything from fiberglass work, to engine tuning. Usually a company that stays off the grid, you’d easily recognize their work with the D1 Blitz R34 that Nomuken drives; as Taro-san has a very good relationship with Blitz. This year they decided to try their hand with a certain take on Time Attack; in steps the Shaft ER34.
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).
I really have to give credit to the formation of NORUSH, alongside NDF of course, for opening up the doors to relationships I may or may not have had otherwise. In the scheme of things, not much time has passed since Allan, myself, and the rest of the guys were really involved in the street driving. So much has happened since then though, that it seems like it’s been decades.