As the saying goes, “The first race was conceived when the second car was built.” However, the world of Time Attack has roots in an even more fundamental basic tenet of automobile racing: to be faster than yourself.
Squeezed between two other series using the same track, the winding hillside of Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia recently played host to the third round of the 2017 Global Time Attack tour. Apices were attacked and records were broken despite shaky weather conditions throughout the weekend.
The main objective behind the sport of Time Attack is to race against the clock and record a better lap time than anyone else in your class on a given racetrack—similar to the qualifying procedure of many wheel-to-wheel races. For many drivers in America, this becomes a battle against a legendary driver with some sort of sponsor backing, who placed an absurdly-quick lap record in the early stages of Time Attack’s involvement in the United States. The grassroots level of Time Attack has progressed to a stage where the record holders have jobs outside of driving. This opens up an entirely new battle, in which drivers who already hold the record must battle within themselves to unlock a quicker lap time wherever possible.
From the highest form of racing down to the grassroots level, the most miniscule quantity of time is always worth the money or hours of modifying, testing, seat time, and simulator work invested into the project. Because races are won or lap times bettered by only a thousandth of a second—that’s .001 of a second—even the slightest improvement in a particular aspect of competition—even something as simple as reaction time of braking—is the key to success. That starts a seemingly endless quest for improvement, not only in the driver’s ability to perform on the track, but also of the car’s ability to do the same.
The constant influx of technological advances present in our modern age has opened up a new breed of auto racing, where something like the tricky science of aerodynamics can be tinkered with—and visualized digitally—before making physical changes to the cars. This helps teams make changes to positively alter the car’s performance before ever setting foot on a racetrack.
Cars are beginning to incorporate more extreme forms of aerodynamic modification in the quest for a quicker lap time. Take, for example, the Honda Civic Si of William Au-Yeung from PZTuning/Vibrant Performance, which not only utilizes a large swan-neck rear wing, but also a very unique tunnel setup from the car’s underbody diffuser out to the trunk to speed up the air pressure underneath the car and create suction to the road.
IAG brought their large rig with numerous competition cars in tow, including their own flagship Subaru STi, along with a pair of Subaru STi cars from Snail Performance, each of which made its own separate quest for lap records during the event.
Data on everything from sector times to fuel mapping was analyzed with pilot Dan Kroll throughout the weekend as IAG tried to improve their STi’s competitive level between sessions.
UMS Tuning’s Mitsubishi Evolution uses everything from artistically-crafted fender vents, massive rear aerodynamic pieces, and a driver seat positioned further toward the rear of the chassis to evenly distribute weight, all in the name of making the car faster.
Global Time Attack organizes entrants into several different classes within drive type (FWD/AWD/RWD) to create competition among similarly tuned machines. These classes include Unlimited, Limited, Street, and finally Enthusiast, which is the grassroots level where many drivers get their first taste of time attack fever. GTA then divides drivers—regardless of class—into Group A, B, and C to further associate competitors with a similarly capable group while out on track.
Up first was Group C, made up of the slower cars in the Enthusiast, Street, and Limited classes. These cars were turning laps anywhere from 1:55.783 seconds all the way up to a pretty quick 1:47.381 from Yo Kuelta in his #76 Street RWD BMW 330i. Considering this car looked ready for daily driving, its lap time was a very respectable showcase of the car’s potential.
Chris Vera made the trek all the way from New Jersey for the second consecutive year to compete in his #99 Honda Civic DX, which ran a solid 1:49.135 in the Limited FWD class.
Snail Performance’s Sally McNulty—one the series’ few female drivers—handled her #412 Subaru WRX around the track for a swift 1:39.055 throughout the weekend to take third in the Street AWD class.
Moving up to Group B, a continuing combination of classes covered the track’s surface including the #724 Honda S2000 of Bryan Hedian, who piloted his Limited RWD convertible to a 1:37.193 for a fifth place finish in his class.
When Group A began filing out onto track, the atmosphere was filled with loud growls, pops, scrapes, and the incredible whir of turbochargers. These were the potential record-setters in all of their classes, starting with Ken Xu who was able to outperform everyone in his Street RWD class—and most of the Limited RWD class—by ticking a 1:34.738 in his #124 Mazda RX-7.
Chris Boersma powered his Limited FWD class #33 Honda Civic to a blistering run of 1:32.428 to claim first place in his class during the weekend. Unfortunately, Boersma spun on the exit of the legendary Esses and beached his EM1 for an entire session early on Saturday, or I’m sure he could have gone even faster.
In the Limited AWD class, Tony Calabrese pushed his #88 Pure Tuning Subaru STi to the edge of grip by consistently jumping the curbing at Turn 3 in order to squeeze everything he could from each lap. He finished the weekend first in class with a 1:29.681 lap.
The #14 UMS Tuning Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution piloted by Tony Szirka sparked its lengthy splitters throughout the course to take second place in class with a 1:25.357.
James Houghton drove his K-Tuned Unlimited FWD #41 Acura Integra Type R at the brink of grip through each set of corners. While he was on hot laps, you could hear the car coming from several corners away. James pushed his Integra nearly full throttle through the entire Esses portion of the racetrack, which helped in granting him a mental 1:24.341 lap in the end.
I’ll finish my coverage with the outright fastest and new Unlimited lap record holder: the #113 PZTuning/Vibrant Performance Honda Civic Si. William Au-Yeung piloted this front-wheel-drive Honda to a blindingly fast lap of 1:23.358, which eclipsed the previous FWD record at Road Atlanta by 2.197 seconds! Those of you in the know may remember the previous record holder, a certain unique looking “FWing” Scion tC driven by the distinguished Christian Rado. Topping that effort was no easy feat; big congratulations go to the Canadian native Au-Yeung on a successful weekend. Just for reference, that’s only 2.053 seconds away from the pole position qualifying lap of the 2016 Petite Le Mans GT Daytona-class #33 Dodge Viper GT3-R from the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Crazy.
Check out the official results on Global Time Attack’s website for a lengthy rundown of each class, and keep scrolling for some more images in our gallery below!