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by David Zalstein

Simply, the World Time Attack Challenge (WTAC) is awesome.

For the uninitiated, WTAC – formerly known as Superlap – is a fast-paced, high-action motorsport event, held at Sydney Motorsport Park every year since 2010.

In short, WTAC is a local nod to similar types of events run in Japan for decades, focussing on the fastest tuned and modified cars, setting the fastest lap possible around a given circuit.

And here in Australia, this year was all about some of the world’s craziest time attack cars trying to lap Sydney Motorsport Park’s 3.93-kilometre Gardner GP Circuit in under 1:22.19 – the astonishing time set last year by Aussie Supercar driver Tim Slade in the MCA Suspension ‘Hammerhead’ Nissan Silvia S13.

With competitors split into four classes – Clubsprint, Open, Pro-Am, and Pro – times are recorded across the two-day event, with a final shootout dictating a limit of three laps per car: a warm-up lap, a timed lap from a rolling start, and cool-down lap.

As spectacular as ever, here are eight bloody good reasons you should’ve gone to the World Time Attack Challenge 2017.


Getting there

Wherever you live, wherever you’re coming from, getting to WTAC is an adventure.

It usually means mates, it usually means cars, and it usually means a requisite amount of fun and frivolity along the way.

This year, CarAdvice was lucky enough to make the trip out in the $41,490 (before on-road costs) 2017 Toyota 86 limited edition.

Limited to 60 units here in Australia, the Toyota 86 LE is exclusively available in ‘easy to find in the WTAC carpark’ Solar Orange, and comes equipped with Sachs performance dampers, larger brakes and Brembo calipers, model-specific 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, black door mirrors and a black rear spoiler, plus orange interior highlights.

The 152kW/212Nm naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre ‘boxer’ engine remains unchanged – and yes, un-turbocharged – but at least the standard car’s six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip rear differential are also carried over. Yay.


The hardware

Obviously, the cars at time attack event are the main drawcard. But while plenty you see are nuts, some of the engines are just insane.

From turbo to twin-turbo to supercharged and beyond, the under-bonnet setups get more and more mental ever year, with the pursuit of speed and power seemingly never-ending.

With V8s joined by straight-sixes and boosted four-cylinders, there are cars in the paddock putting out upwards of 1500hp. There was even a Toyota 86 powered by an E60 BMW M5-sourced 5.0-litre V10.

And if all of that isn’t enough, look closer and you’ll find stacks of totally drool-worthy big brake packages about the place too. Mmm, stopping.


The historics and modern classics

Sure, the latest and greatest time attack cars are cool, but getting up close and personal with some motorsport legends of the bygone era is pretty neat as well.

Dating back to the 1970s, cars on display at WTAC 2017 included the:

  • Taisan Group A R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R
  • Group C Nissan Bluebird Turbo sedan
  • Group A Toyota Supra
  • Group A Ford Sierra Cosworth RS 500
  • Group C Mazda RX-7
  • Datsun Stanza
  • Lola T8900
  • Keiichi Tsuchiya’s own Hot Version TRD N2 AE86
  • JGTC GT300 S15 Nissan Silvia
  • JGTC GT300 20B FD3S RE Amemiya Mazda RX-7
  • Group C Mazda 767B Le Mans prototype

Additionally, there was an array of modern classics from Nissan GT-Rs to Honda NSXs to Subaru WRX STIs.


The aero

It wouldn’t be time attack without wild aero, and WTAC 2017 did not disappoint.

With top-shelf offerings from the likes of the Scorch Racing Nissan Silvia, MCA Suspension Nissan Silvia, RP968 Porsche 968, and Pulse Racing Mitsubishi Evo, top honours for the most ridiculous aero had to go to Andy Forest and the Team Scotland AFP Subaru WRX.

Although the Pro class teams delivered epic aero in spades, even the Pro-Am and Open class teams brought out the big guns for this year’s event, with tarmac-scraping front spoilers matched to huge rear spoilers.

A word to the wise: if you’re gonna time attack, you best bring aero.


The drifting

A massive crowd pleaser and a key piece of the WTAC puzzle, the annual Drift Challenge is also run across the event’s two days, highlighted by daytime drift demonstrations and under-lights night-time competitions.

With all the main players in the Aussie scene in attendance, the field was jam-packed with local and international drifters, with New South Wales-based sideways specialist – and friend of CarAdvice’s – Beau Yates, taking out this year’s win in his 2JZ-powered Toyota Genuine Parts Toyota 86. A huge effort.

And if you prefer straight-line to sideways, there was also the Flying 500, where challengers in high-horsepower street cars battle it out for top speed honours down Sydney Motorsport Park’s main straight.


The characters

Walk the paddock, peer into the pit garages, and meander around the circuit, and you never know who you might spot or bump into at WTAC.

This year, there were ample big names wandering around, including Tomohiko ‘Under’ Suzuki from Scorch Racing, New Zealand drifter Mad Mike Whiddett, Aussie drift icon Beau Yates, and reigning WTAC champion Tim Slade.

The doyen of drifting himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya, also made a return to WTAC, after making his debut at the event in 2016, and Red Bull HoldenRacing Team Supercar driver Shane van Gisbergen was also on hand, getting behind the wheel of the 730hp V8-powered MCA Nissan 370Z drift car for the two-day Drift Challenge.


The atmosphere

No matter the weather, the festival vibe of WTAC is always outstanding.

And this year, despite clouds and some rain creeping into proceedings on day two, the crowds showed up, the music was cranked, the trade stands and food trucks were out in force, and everyone from die-hard time attack tragics to mums and dads pushing prams were out and about embracing the scene.

Further, this year marked an epic Show‘n’Shine result, with enough tuned and modified cars filling Sydney Motorsport Park’s skidpan for organisers to claim the title of Australia’s largest outdoor car show display. Fully sick!


The times

In the end though, lap times are what it’s all about.

And with Friday providing teams with excellent conditions for brisk laps of the Gardner GP Circuit, it was – as it was last year – the MCA Suspension S13 and its driver, Supercar steerer Tim Slade, that proved to be the best of the best.

With his 2016 time of 1:22.19 to beat, ‘Sladey’ clocked a 1:20.97, to out-pace Barton Mawer in the RP968 Porsche 968 (1:21.49), and Tomohiko ‘Under’ Suzuki in the Scorch Racing Nissan Silvia (1:21.80). With a time of 1:26.95, Andy Forrest in the Team Scotland AFP Subaru WRX finished fourth in the premier class.

Robert Nguyen in the 101 Motorsport Honda CRX was fastest in Pro-Am with a time of 1:26.28, while Adam Casmiri, in his tiny but mighty Hardrace Honda Civic, topped the Open class with a 1:27.56, with Jordan Cox in the Team Raptor Mitsubishi Evo IX taking out Clubsprint bragging rights with a 1:36.84.

Well done to all the competitors – whatever the discipline – and a massive congratulations to all the winners.

Click on the Photos tab for the full gallery of World Time Attack Challenge 2017 images by David Zalstein.


Did you make it to this year’s World Time Attack Challenge at Sydney Motorsport Park? What was your highlight? And which was your favourite car there? Let us know in the comments below.

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MORE: On board with Keiichi Tsuchiya at WTAC 2016

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