Crap it’s been a month since Superlap Battle and I’ve only posted a video of the Factor X NSX running their crazy fast 1:41.9.
So anyway, for those of you not familiar with Super Lap battle, it’s the year-ending event all the big US time attack teams look forward to. This is no three day weekend with vendor pavilions, modeling contests, hellaflush car shows, or fake wheel to wheel racing. People come here to do one thing – run the fastest lap possible. Since Superlap takes place on a Wednesday in November and time attack has never been much of a spectator sport, there’s not much effort made to draw a crowd.
So why then, did so many big name teams forgo major portions of their time attack season to prepare for this one track day with some magazine guys?
One reason is media coverage; SLB is organized by super street/import tuner/modified magazine, so there will be articles in all of those magazines. The other big reason is the history of the event. While I’m quite the opposite of a JDM fanboy, big name teams from Japan have made the trip out to run laps here, and that gives US time attack and our Superlap battle a little more legitimacy in the grand scheme of things. HKS, Tomei/Cusco, the Cyber EVO, and others have all been out to Buttonwillow to show us their stuff, and since 2007 HKS has held the track record by a large margin.
Sierra Sierra Enterprises happened to be at the track that day in 2007, and when they saw HKS run a seemingly impossible time of 1:43.5 they decided the record had to be theirs, and that they would do it with a Lancer EVO of their own:
This is what a formula atlantic team comes up with when given free reign to create an unlimited time attack car- lots of power, lots of fancy parts and neat aero work, and very well developed suspension. For a full, albeit slightly outdated write up, check out this motoiq article
Rumor has it SSE recorded hundreds of test laps of Buttonwillow in the months leading up to the event, so they were ready to go Wednesday morning. The first session is frequently the fastest, as the cool morning air allows engines to make slightly more power. Additionally, winds often pick up later in the day blowing dirt and dust onto the racing surface. In the first lap of the first session, David Empringham turned an incredible 1:41.0, officially eclipsing the time of HKS by a large margin. We were also lucky to be able to take advantage of the great track conditions, clicking off a 1:48.5 on our very first timed lap in the AQ Motorsports STi. Just like that, the rest of the unlimited and modified class were left to play catch up.
In unlimited we had FXMD in the NSX, GST Motorsports in their Impreza L, and Chris Rado in his new World Racing AWD Scion gunning for SSE.
The main contenders in Ltd were the 034 Motorsports Audi and Evasive EVO.
In unlimited, Factor X had suffered a headgasket failure the previous day in practice and had to scramble to get it changed overnight. This meant they had no time to determine whether the Hoosier A6 or Hankook C91s would be the better tire to use. The NSX normally runs on Yokohama slicks, which are not allowed to be used in Superlap battle. While the C91 is the stickiest of the two, the widest available size is only 275mm. The usual tire sizes on the NSX are 330 in the rear and 300 in the front, so they were unsure if one pair of “skinny” hankooks would hold up to all 860hp going to the ground. In the first session the NSX could only manage a 1:45 on the Hoosiers. Unfortunately with Tuesday’s testing out the window and a number of big changes to aero and suspension, all the tweaking had to be done between timed sessions. The decision was made to change the spring rates, turn the boost all the way up, and hope for the best. This was a scramble to get things back together and I even ended up lending a hand with the alignment. In the next session Billy Johnson went and ran 1:41.9 on the Hoosiers, just under a tenth behind Sierra Sierra. This left them one more session to try out the C91s.
Meanwhile, we were turning parade laps every session, keeping a close eye on the times posted by 034 and Evasive. Fortunately for us, only the 034 Audi was able to run close with a mid 1:49. They have a really fast looking car, and had they run in top form in the morning things may have turned out differently. The same could be said for Ryan Gates, who suffered a timing chain failure in practice.
Going into the last session, all eyes were on Factor X. Would they be able to top Sierra Sierra? Would the C91s be faster than Hoosiers? The answer, unfortunately, will have to wait until next year. Going through the esses right before the last turn a connecting rod decided it no longer wanted to connect to anything. Thankfully Billy was able to roll the car into the pits, as it had developed a small fire in the engine bay. Data from the lap shows they were likely on pace to break into the 1:40s or better. With that, here are the full results:
Notable results include Andrew Brilliant’s Limited class FWD eclipse, which managed a track record of it’s own with Matt Andrews behind the wheel, and Charlie Rhyu in his Top Setup unlimited class n/a crx managed an impressive 1:53 after driving the car to the event from Long Beach. AMS came and broke the long standing street AWD record, and Clint Boisdeau won street FWD in his Ford Focus. Three of the new class record holders are even sporting hellafunctional decals:
And the rest of the pictures: