This article is part of our 2023 World Time Attack Challenge coverage.

This year, the world was welcomed back to Sydney Motorsport Park for the eleventh instalment of World Time Attack Challenge.  Teams from the USA, Japan and all over Australia would compete with one perfect lap in mind.

They weren’t racing each other; they were racing the clock.  Some would be looking for a new personal best, others would aim for the overall class win, whilst only a few would look to break records.

Mike Burroughs had brought along his internet-breaking K24 swapped Ferrari 308 GTB.  This is one of those builds that just seeing it in pictures and videos is exciting, knowing that there is a car like this somewhere in the world.  But to see it in the flesh, and actually competing is something else. That is WTAC: you will see things that you’d never even dream of seeing.

The team only got two testing sessions before shipping the car halfway across the world, but were able to get a baseline set up for the suspension and brake bias whilst discovering and fixing the car’s shortcomings.  Regardless, coming into WTAC, Mike felt ‘confident and comfortable leaning on the car’ whilst getting close to the car’s limit.

“So far, [the car] feels really balanced, it hasn’t displayed any bad characteristics… It’s given me a lot of confidence… I feel like it works, which is a pretty rewarding feeling after you spend so long building something from scratch.” – Mike Burroughs

The event wouldn’t quite go to plan for Mike and the team, as on first lap out on Friday, second gear let go, which would force them to burn the midnight oil, taking out the engine to replace the Quaife transmission which was provided by JDM Yard.  With minutes to spare, Mike was back on track during the first Open Class session to the approval of the fans, the Ferrari certainly being a crowd favourite.

Donut Media would team up with previous WTAC competitors Lyfe Motorsport to make up the second American entry, with Jeremiah Burton driving the GTR in Pro-Am, whilst Cole Powelson battled the mammoths in Pro.

The original plan was for both Jeremiah and Cole to race at COTA, but unfortunately they didn’t make it in time. “Well, how about Australia, how about we go to Sydney, and I was like yeah, let’s do it!”, Jeremiah relayed to me.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing here either as the car had mechanical woes during the Thursday practice and on the first day of competition, limiting both Jeremiah’s and Cole’s running.

“The car is really fun, really planted, a ton of aero on it so a lotta downforce. All-wheel drive, traction control.. it pretty much drives itself, I just gotta be a better driver.  They turned the power down for me… they said ‘hey we don’t trust you Jeremiah’” – Jeremiah Burton

Jeremiah was pretty hard on himself, however his fastest time would be a 1:31.480. Not bad in an unfamiliar car in a very tight Pro-Am class with minimal track time! Cole Powelson would set a lap time of 1:25.945, good enough for third and a trophy for the Lyfe Motorsport team.

Feras Qartouy in his very unique carbon fibre time attack Chevrolet Corvette would become the first American to win a class at WTAC, setting a 1:27.016 lap, taking home Pro-Am honours back to the USA.  Richard Perini would grab second in his Ginetta G55, less than two tenths ahead of Wayne Lee in the Tanuki S13.

Three additional teams would come to WTAC from the birthplace of time attack: Japan.  After setting a 52-second lap time at Tsukuba, Mitsuyoshi Nishio would bring his 1000hp Nissan Onevia to compete in the Pro-Am class.  Alongside would be Tetsuhiro Kurokawa, making his third trip to WTAC in his Hokkaido Dream Racing RX-7.  Nishio-san would set a 1:29.093 lap time, placing him in sixth place in the Pro-Am class, as Kurokawa-san in the radical RX-7 would finish seventh, three-hundredths behind the Onevia.

Yusaka Shibita and the legendary ARVOU Racing Shop would be the third entrant from Japan competing in the Pro category with the ARVOU S2000.  The team’s valiant effort would see them dip below the 1:30.0 mark with a 1:29.596 to the approval of the entire Sydney Motorsport Park.

The Clubsprint class is the underdog class at WTAC, with cars that most resemble the most recent popular sports cars, in addition to popular time attack platforms with a more modest set up.  After the first session, it was clear that times in the Clubsprint class were going to be very close.

Unfortunately, two-time Clubsprint champion Jamal Assaad, who was looking to make it three wins in as many years, would oversteer through Turn 10 and smack the edge of inside wall, ending his charge a day early.

Assaad’s time of a 1:34.031 in the ERS Evo would be good enough for second place, as Trent Grubel in the DC Jap Subaru broke the Clubsprint record twice, first on Friday and then in the final shootout with a time of 1:32.919.  Michael Garland would get the GotitRex GC8 up to third with a 1:34.198 lap.

Tim Slade would take the Extreme GTR to an Open class win smashing Dave Morcom and the GAS Evo team at the end who had set a fast 1:27.366.  It looked to be won and done until Tim Slade took the Extreme GTR to a 1:25.926 in the final shootout.  Benny Tran in the BYP Racing Integra would snatch third with a 1:28.581.

A special mention must go to the Motive/Sparesbox team, John Boston and their S14, cracking a new personal best with an unexpected 1:29.911.

The two-time WTAC champion ‘MCA Hammerhead’ would change hands to Wayne Lee, who would give it a new name and plenty of upgrades.  Tim Slade would take the fresh ‘Tanuki’ S13 to a 1:20.456 a new personal best for the chassis and no doubt the fastest Tim Slade has ever gone around SMSP.  Unfortunately, the left front wheel departed from the car heading into Turn 2 on Saturday, meaning they couldn’t attempt to go faster in the shootout.

However, the star of the show would be none other than Barton Mawer and the Porsche RP968.  With slick tyres now allowed for those competing in the Pro category, the RP968 team were finding that the new tyres changed the set up quite a bit on the car, rather than making it faster.  The cautious words from the team before the event was a downplay of their form, as on their third lap, Barton Mawer would finally break the overall Sydney Motorsport Park lap record by three tenths with a 1:18.8 lap on the Friday!

The car would break a driveshaft later in the day, but would come back on Saturday to go even faster.  Barton Mawer would shock the world with a 1:17.860!  The sole mission of the RP968 build was to break the record set by Nico Hulkenberg in an A1GP car which had stood since 2007, and now they had smashed it by 1.3 seconds! Barton Mawer was elated and celebrated his victory by jumping off the top of RP968… and breaking his ankle. Only at World Time Attack Challenge.

Words & Images – Noah Thorley

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