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Global Time Attack/Super Lap Battle Buttonwillow Finale Preview

by Daniel O'Donnell

I think of Time Attack like I think of the USA and USSR during the Cold War… or was it Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd? One side brings out an axe, the next a pistol, the next a shotgun, the next a cannon, until you end up with a nuclear bomb. So how does this relate to time attack? The first year of the Super Lap Battle Time Attack at Buttonwillow was 2004. The best lap time was a 1:54 for an Unlimited class car, the Signal Auto Skyline R34, driven by the one and only Tarzan Yamada. Fast forward to modern times and a 1:54 is a great time for a Street Tire car and the Unlimited cars are talking numbers sub 1:40(!!!) to secure a victory.

That’s over 14 seconds faster…

Do you know what you can do in 14 seconds? In 14 seconds you can watch two Vine videos with plenty of time left over to Tweet “LOL #ROFLCOPTER.” In 9 years we’ve gone from fighting with sticks and stones to plasma cannons and dark matter bombs. Time Attack, with its modest budgets and open door policy, is one of the most efficient ways to improve car performance of all time. We should put these guys to work curing blindness with the promise of a Beer Time Attack as the reward. With that said, let's take a sneak peak at the Global Time Attack Buttonwillow finale. It's shaping up to be one of the most exciting Time Attack events of all time with top quality cars coming out in each class!

 

Enthusiast Class

For the uninitiated, Enthusiast Class has the tightest limits on aerodynamics, engine, suspension, tire and weight modifications. The goal is having an entry level class, without professional drivers, for competitors and teams to get their feet wet in the world of Time Attack.  But don’t for a second think this class of fully insured and street driven vehicles is slow. The current Buttonwillow lap record, held by Craig Peyron, for an Enthusiast Class car would have netted a 4th overall finish at the original, 2004 Super Lap Battle.

Drifting might not be the fastest way around the track, but that doesn't stop Robispec/Yimi Sport Tuning driver Craig Peyron from looking damned good while setting record lap times.
Peyron and his wife have had quite a successful first season and are looking forward to stepping up a class next season!

Speaking of Mr. Peyron, his is the first car we’ll cover in our preview. The Robispec/Yimi Sport Tuning 2006 Subaru STI is making the trek from Visalia, CA to Buttonwillow to defend its overall Enthusiast track record of (1:58.322) set earlier this year. This remarkable time happened to be the first Enthusiast Class car to break the 2:00 barrier and he also holds overall enthusiast track records at Willow Springs International Raceway (1:32.264) and Chuckwalla Valley Raceway (2:03.331). What makes this all the more remarkable is that this is his first year competing in Time Attack. Not resting on his laurels, Peyron has the car at Yimi Sport Tuning getting an E85 upgrade, with the chance of adding an upgraded turbo as well. His goal is to lay down one last sick lap time before stepping up from Enthusiast class for 2014.

 
Amir Bentatou and the StanceWorks Motorsports E36 M3 lighting up the front rotors under heavy braking. Avus Autosport, KW Suspension, Motorsport Hardware and Swift Springs help support this up-and-coming driver.

Next up is driver Amir Bentatou with his StanceWorks Motorsports E36 M3 Sedan. Hailing from Los Angeles, CA Bentatou has also been competing for a year and owns the RWD enthusiast track record at Willow Springs International Raceway (1:32.243). Not being content with just one record to his name, he is eyeing the current RWD Buttonwillow record of (2:00.843). Modifications to the aerodynamics and basic chassis setup are all that Bentatou feels he needs to put the team “right where we need it.” Also mentioned was Bentatou’s interest in seeing what is up the other competitors’ sleeves, which leads me to believe, he has something up his sleeve. Time will tell!

 

Street Class

The name “Street Class” has confused quite a few people over the years. Cars regularly have full roll cages, carbon fiber doors, completely gutted interiors and wings so large that even the most devoted hard parkers question to themselves “Is that wing too big to be tasteful?” To clarify a little bit, Street Tire Class might be the better choice of words as with this class there are rules for the engine, aero and chassis, but the limits are much less restrictive. It’s not unusual to see horsepower numbers north of 600 and exotic materials used to shed weight. The biggest limits are the tires. 140 UTQG treadwear with a 255mm width limit for AWD, 285mm for RWD and no width limit for FWD.

 
Ken Suen of Godspeed Profect/Sportcar Motion is bringing out "The Dark Knight" instead of "BigRed" due to recent engine issues.
"BigRed" is sitting on the sidelines this year.

This year, Street FWD Track Record Holder, Ken Suen of Ontario, CA, is back to defend his lap record (1:58.921). The only thing is that his amazing Honda Civic SI, affectionately known as “BigRed,” done blewed itself up 4 weeks ago. He will be piloting the Godspeed Project/Sportcar Motion Acura RSX Type S, known as “The Dark Knight” instead. Little is known about this second car, but Suen tells me that a 1:56 is the magic number for the record in Street FWD. Suen also refused to send a headshot of himself along with photos of the cars, this leads me to believe he’s Batman… beware competitors, beware!

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Comments
DrunkenMessiah
DrunkenMessiahlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 2:32 AM
Great preview coverage of this event, can't wait to see how it goes.

That said, there has been a variety of coverage for time-attack over the course of this year with, as far as I can tell, *ZERO* mention of Team American and their monstrous BNR32. What gives? I figured they'd be ripping it up at stateside events such as this. With no shipping companies to fuck up their plans and send their car to the wrong continent, I'd think they'd be chomping at the bit to show these other teams what's what.

Whence shall the BNR32 make its triumphant return???
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Monday, November 04, 2013 4:15 AM
I'd guess, "when it's done" and "when people have time". Also I think there was mention that some of the details (turbo placement) weren't legal to US time attack regs, just WTAC regs that it was built to.

Still would be cool.
JagerRacing
JagerRacinglink
Monday, November 04, 2013 7:40 AM
"suns out, guns out" John Carson
JagerRacing
JagerRacinglink
Monday, November 04, 2013 7:45 AM
Some epic battles are going to be fought at this event, I know I cannot wait for them to unfold. Some others need to sign up already... Zhong!
Protodad
Protodadlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 7:54 AM
Saw the Yimi Sport “street” car at Willow Springs a couple weeks ago. Very fast and very clean build. The crew was also great to talk and very friendly and were cool enough to let my boys sit in the driver seat.
BEKevo
BEKevolink
Monday, November 04, 2013 11:28 AM
This is RD Engineerings' year! Crossing my fingers Roy and GOTTZilla sit high on the podium this year! Roy's a different animal than last year, he'll be smashing those apex's as fast as those straights, YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT
Clint Boisdeau
Clint Boisdeaulink
Monday, November 04, 2013 12:03 PM
Limited AWD is going to be VERY interesting
rawkus
rawkuslink
Monday, November 04, 2013 12:09 PM
I'm so bummed the Professional Awesome Evo can't be in the mix!
eeeen
eeeenlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 12:24 PM
When I think of TA, I don't think of the US at all anymore.

Wow, a timeattack event in the US?!? Considering the quantity and quality of US-based TA events/cars now-a-days, I am shocked there is any TA coverage in the US. Who would have thunk it.

I deeply miss the surge of TA passion and enthusiasm from years past.
rawkus
rawkuslink
Monday, November 04, 2013 12:34 PM
I honestly think the FXMD NSX would be on par, perhaps faster, than Tilton, no joke. The GST L, which sadly won't be at the event due to a last second issue, is right with the FXMD NSX... Those two cars would be top 3-4 finishers in Australia. Open versus Limited is a big question for me. The top dog, JC Meynet, hasn't developed much in the last few years, but is so damned gnarly fast, he hasn't had to. This year might restart the development race in the USA for Limited due to so many top competitors coming to the event.
gstmike
gstmikelink
Monday, November 04, 2013 12:41 PM
You never know with the GST L, it's entirely possible it might be there!
BEKevo
BEKevolink
Monday, November 04, 2013 12:54 PM
whoa! GST L in the competition!?? definitely going to stir up the mix quite a bit!
rawkus
rawkuslink
Monday, November 04, 2013 12:59 PM
I hate you Mike.
eeeen
eeeenlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 2:14 PM
@ rawkus REALL?!? WOW. What do you base that guess on? Really curious. Big talk from the US ta scene, like usual, and as a US-based ta fan, it is just a let down to read more trash talk with no follow up. The only team to back up their "talk" is SSE w/ their overweight evo (even though SSE did NO trash talking throughout their short TA career). I'd love to see the trash talkers run their cars against other top tier TA cars from around the globe. Stop running your fingers, just prove it. As a TA fan for decades, I would love to see that, and in fact would pay a lot of money to go see that in person.

Save the blind assumptions, you have no clue what GST or FXMD would run at SMSP. Compared to the Au. teams/drivers the US teams would have to race against: not only are those US cars not built specifically for the WTAC, the US drivers wouldn't know the track for shit compared to the Au. drivers.

If trash talk is involved: I don't care what Nemo guesses they would run at PP, I don't care what Tilton guesses they would run at Tsukuba now, and I don't care what GST and FXMS guess they would run at SMSP. Doesn't matter who you are or where you are from, it is annoying.
rawkus
rawkuslink
Monday, November 04, 2013 3:02 PM
I don't believe I was talking any trash. That would mean speaking negatively of someone or some team and I have the upmost respect for Australian Time Attack. They carry the banner for Time Attack worldwide. The better they do, the better the rest of the world does in turn. I have fully supported, currently support and in the future will continue to support World Time Attack.

Talking hypotheticals is what makes sports great. The NFL has millions of followers that play Fantasy Football based on how they believe a player or team will perform. ESPN is dominated not by actual sport, but by theoretically what will happen in the future and dissecting what has happened in the past. That's all I'm doing and hopefully the sport is better because of individuals getting excited about what could happen in the future.

Based on power, weight, previous results and previous competitors, I feel I can make a strong guestimate of how well a team will perform in Syndey, but you're correct, until a team actually makes the trip, it's just theoretical. It does not in any way, shape or form take away from what the teams that actually have run there have accomplished. And visa versa.

And trust me when I say this, I really, really, really want to see our car compete against the top Austrlian/English/Japanese teams far more than you do. I think we'd put up a good fight and if someone were to really mop the floor with us, I'd have absolute respect for them, because I know what we've done and what we're capable of and I'm very proud of that.

Please feel free to contact me at dan@professionalawesome.com if you have any concerns!
gstmike
gstmikelink
Monday, November 04, 2013 3:15 PM
Based on the fact that I represent the GST L I can safely say I have no idea where our car stacks up with the cars oversea's and have no clue or guestimate of what the car would run at SMSP. To add to that I also have no idea what the car would run at Buttonwillow as everytime I run the car there it runs like shit!
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 4:33 PM
@eeeen, I think Dan is correct about the FXMD NSX. Stock for stock, a NSX is within 200-300lbs of a S13-S14 chassis (~10%). The FXMD appears to have a level of preparation on par with the MCR and Under Suzuki S-chassis cars at WTAC. However, last I heard, the FXMD is running an EFR9180 turbo which is a frame size larger (~10%) than the GTX3582Rs used on the MCR and US cars at WTAC. So, I expect FXMD to have similar power:weight as the 2nd and 4th place cars at WTAC. With similar levels of aero, it's reasonable to think they are all similar in speed.

As for the GST L, who knows, the damn thing never runs right.
gstmike
gstmikelink
Monday, November 04, 2013 4:48 PM
@spdracerut, Never runs right based off of what data? I'm the first to say it's never ran right at Buttonwillow but it's ran pretty well everywhere else not to mention it's suffered only 3 DNF's in 4 years of racing (09-12) where it also won multiple season championships.
Carson Racing
Carson Racinglink
Monday, November 04, 2013 5:43 PM
Who is that Peyron character? Is he some kind of "Outlaw" or something? Never knew Clint Eastwood did Time Attack.
eeeen
eeeenlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 5:52 PM
@ rawkus I did NOT mean to direct that entire comment at you, only a few sentences were intended to be, the rest was just me rambling about TA. I am very sorry. My bad!! I feel like an ass. I did not mean to make it seem like I thought you were talking any trash at all. THAT was in reference to certain teams/owners talking trash about dominating certain overseas events, without ever going. My fault for not being clear what/who I was addressing. I know who you are, a key reason for me asking where you came up with that blind-guess in regards to being on par or quicker than Tilton?.... seems like a stab in the dark. How do you figure? And better yet, are they comparable? I understand hypothetical comparisons, but if the comparability is skewed, what is the point??


On another note, I don't think it is safe to assume HP/lbs is going to mean much in a TA event when we are also talking about these levels of aero, chassis and suspension fabrication/modification. They are just as important as the engine, perhaps even more important.

- The unibody:tube ratio on many WTAC cars is a bit more tube-intensive than what we have seen anywhere else in TA; and it seems like extreme tube frame portions in the front/rear will directly effect just how extreme the suspension can be modified.
- I am no suspension nut, but the suspension mods/fabrication seem outrageous at the top tier of WTAC. Extensively reworked would be an understatement.
- The aero is without a doubt at another level compared to US builds. I don't really know, but I assume, in regards to aero alone, the ABAero equipped FXMD does not compare to the ABAero equipped Nemo.

It seems like the chassis, suspension, & aero modifications are ALL at another level, or a couple levels above. From what wtac has shown thus far, if you don't have it all you won't be competitive. I don't think FXMD's unibody or suspension resembles the degree of modification seen at the top tier of WTAC, not to mention the aero. FXMD has the engine, sure, but not all four areas covered. Plus the 5th area.... driver, driver, driver, driver, driver. Have to have a driver who knows how to drive the car well, AND knows how to drive fast at SMSP. Drivers like Walden and Luff are nearly-priceless at SMSP.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 7:02 PM
@Mike, it'll run right when you get my GTX4088R on there!
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 8:09 PM
@eeeen, keep in mind the Evo and S-chassis cars come with inferior strut front suspension as compared to the stock double wishbone suspension of the NSX. So the Evo and S-chassis need significant modifications just to get to the base level of the NSX. I feel the mid-engine layout of the NSX gives the car an inherent advantage over the other two chassis. The Evo might be able to overcome what I think is a layout advantage of the NSX by being AWD, but I think the S-chassis is at a disadvantage.

As for aero, the NSX starts out with an advantage out of the box being lower and wider having been designed as a purpose built sportscar. So it will take more work to make the taller boxy Evo based on the everyday grocery getter sedan Lancer to work as well aerodynamically. The Silvia isn't as bad as the beginnings of the Evo, but no one will say the Silvia was designed from the start as a hardcore sports car.

All I'm saying is I expect the FXMD to be in the same ballpark as the top 5 cars at WTAC and I think it's reasonable to think so. Same as I would say the new Porsche 918, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LaFerrari are all in the same ballpark with each other which is a step up from the 911 GT3, F458, and MP4-12C.
gstmike
gstmikelink
Monday, November 04, 2013 8:26 PM
It's been running a GTX4088R!
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 9:23 PM
Why you no tell me!
eeeen
eeeenlink
Monday, November 04, 2013 10:52 PM
What about the Esprit NSX? Can "over-steer" and "set up" account for the large gap in time? Or do you think the Esprit NSX is not comparable to the FXMD nsx?
rawkus
rawkuslink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 6:36 AM
The Tilton car has remarkably stock suspension mounts. Even if it has tubed subframes, you can't drastically change suspension mounting points without relocating bits of the chassis. From everything I've seen, that wasn't done. I'm also amazed at how little of the chassis has been modified on the Tilton car. I would say it's in the same league as SSE, just mildly more aggressive in weight reduction. From everything I've heard, SSE way overbuilt the roll cage and that could account for a difference in weight, but nothing dramatic. I think a lot of speed comes from having a sequential box, removing the loss of power between shifts over an entire lap probably ads up to about a second or so.

Do you have previous numbers from the Esprit NSX? I don't know anything about it and don't know if it has a history of laying down fast laps.

Mike, I would say some have the impression that the GST L isn't reliable because word from you sounds like it's always barely surviving or put together right before an event. Not getting a good lap at Buttonwillow can't help the opinion of the Los Angeles crowd either. I'm confident people will walk away very impressed when they see the L run a number there.
spdracerut
spdracerutlink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 7:16 AM
@eeeen, yes, suspension setup can account for a large time gap. Been there, done that myself with my car. As for the Esprit NSX in particular, it's base aero package looks to have less downforce potential than some of the packages I've seen on the FXMD car. The package on the FXMD in the lead cover shot looks like a lower downforce, lower drag setup. But google other images and you'll see it with another package which appears to be more biased for downforce. Otherwise, I know absolutely nothing about the Esprit NSX. Maybe it chose the wrong tires or tire sizing? Poor aero balance? Poor suspension setup? How did Nemo go from champ to chump in a year? How does Vettel beat Webber by 30 seconds in the last F1 race in cars that are mechanically identical with the only variables being setup and driver? I don't know, wasn't there :)
rawkus
rawkuslink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 7:22 AM
And more conjecture... but I highly, highly doubt Vettel and Webber have mechanically identical cars! Traction control anyone?
JagerRacing
JagerRacinglink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 8:29 AM
I am just excited to see some of the fastest cars come out and run, it's where the talk ends and you have to step up and lay down the time. So Zhong have you registered yet?
BEKevo
BEKevolink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 9:06 AM
Nemo > Tilton evo.. No comp. But talking about US based TA... GST L is our best shot!
Carson Racing
Carson Racinglink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 11:37 AM
The KT Motoring Limited Class Evo VIII has a few tricks up it's sleeve for SLB and will be giving Zhong in the FFTEC Evo IX a run for it's money!
gstmike
gstmikelink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 12:44 PM
@rawkus, valid points! Based on it's East Coast tours the last couple of years it's very true that without between event maintenance we did just keep the car alive enough to get the job done over there. Being put together the night before is a reasonable statement as well especially given the car is not worked on in shop hours and is more a personal thing for myself and a couple of friends in evenings and weekends.

Running a number at Buttonwillow is just one of those weird Nemesis type deals, the only truly successful time I have ever enjoyed at BW is on simple test days and even those were not without issues, the last test day we ran there the car went 1:41.8 and during that particular lap the car looked great until about the bus stop and Jeff came in saying the engine went soft, as it turned out we cracked the IC end tank on the passenger side. I plan to head back to BW shortly to see what a 100% car can run but I have no aspirations of grandure as every time I believe the car to be 100% getting on the trailer she comes out at the track far less than that! (Hell last year before the fire the car broke before even getting out of the trailer, the P/S shat itself while I was backing her out!)
eeeen
eeeenlink
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 9:44 PM
I have no numbers. Going off the various articles outlining the Esprit build that everyone else read, it seemed to have a serious over-all package, in regard to nearly all aspects of the car. But like a few of you said, maybe there was something so off with the set up (like Tarzan mentioned) the car could be competitive with a good set up. It seems down on power compared to the FXMD, but the overall build seems just as focused. From what 'spdracerut' said about the better starting point of the NSX compared to the S-chassis and Evo, is it wrong to think even with an iffy set-up the Esprit NSX should be more competitive with the lesser chassis'd Evo and S-chassis?

@rawkus I agree about the seq. boxes. Those are crucial at the top lvl of WTAC, even in Open class actually, I don't think seq. boxes should be permitted in Open class, regardless of no paddles. It is very cool what Cyber and SSE did with Hpats.

I would like to see the L run at 100% around BW... as well as FXMD. Then go to WTAC, but do GST or FXMD normally run on grooved tires, isn't that required at WTAC???
stuntman
stuntmanlink
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 11:48 AM
AWD cars are heavily advantaged when it comes to WTAC where 265 (I forget, maybe 295) is the widest tire available. They need to make a 335-345 sized tire for the URWD cars to be competitive from a driven-wheel tire size standpoint, especially with cars with rearward-biased weight distribution.

AWD: 265 (or 295) x 4 driven tires
RWD: 265 (or 295) x 2 driven tires

If you look at any GT-style global racing series, they typically run >320 series rear tires.
rawkus
rawkuslink
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 11:51 AM
stuntman,
Good point, I never even thought about that when considering the control tires available.
stuntman
stuntmanlink
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 1:03 PM
With equal power and weight, a RWD car will abuse its outside rear tire much more than an AWD car which has twice the amount of driven wheels. Due to the tire size restriction of WTAC (well Australia and Japan's DOT-approved 'special' tires", the game becomes heavily favoring AWD cars especially on tracks with lowspeed corners like Tsukuba compared to a track with higher-speed long sustained corners like Fuji, WSIR, Road America, etc... where a RWD car might have a shot.

FXMD was almost or as fast as SSE, GST, etc... until going to a 335 width rear tire which was able to put down power better and not overheat the rear tires as quickly. If you want to criticize the "grooved" DOT tires that they and many US teams use, then AU and JP can be equally criticized for their limited tire size and tight tracks. On a more open track with a wider tire, an unlimited RWD car would do pretty well.
brian g
brian glink
Wednesday, November 06, 2013 6:59 PM
I'm a little unhappy my 280 HP V6 powered CRX isn't allowed to compete in street class against the blown 400+ HP 4 cylinder engines. Hopefully this changes.
Vipergtsrgt1
Vipergtsrgt1link
Thursday, November 07, 2013 9:21 AM
Just for the record, I will not be sporting a mullet or bald eagle print vinyl at SLB.
rawkus
rawkuslink
Thursday, November 07, 2013 11:38 AM
Viper,
I think I speak for everyone going to GTA/SLB when I say, "that is deeply disappointing."
Vipergtsrgt1
Vipergtsrgt1link
Thursday, November 07, 2013 3:13 PM
I stick out enough as it is surrounded by Japanese and European machines.
Micah McMahan
Micah McMahanlink
Friday, November 08, 2013 2:19 PM
Ah, speculation is great. You can get some baselines with some fairly straight forward calculations IF you have data from comparably capable cars on other tracks. You can then simulate and stitch together your lap.

With that being said, I'm super bummed we've missed this season and yet another SLB.

Mike, quit messing with dog collars and get the L together :p
gstmike
gstmikelink
Monday, November 11, 2013 4:48 PM
I like dog collars!
JagerRacing
JagerRacinglink
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 8:44 PM
Time is counting down...
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