The third round of the Global Time Attack took place at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL just south of Chicago on September 17-18. GTA has never held an event at Autobahn since this is the inaugural season of the nascent series but the 2.1-mile, 15-turn South Circuit has hosted two Redline Time Attacks in 2009 and 2010.
The event drew 16 teams – five of which entered in the premier Unlimited GT AWD class. Much like the previous Global Time Attacks this event took place within a NASA regional weekend. The GTA teams usually post the fastest times of the weekend by a large margin and Autobahn was no exception.
Unlike the now-defunct Redline Time Attack and the Super Lap Battle there are no practice sessions or warm-ups. Every lap counts and each team gets six dedicated 20-minute timed sessions over the course of an event weekend to record the fastest time. This GTA format was particularly well received at Autobahn when rain fell on Sunday washing out any chance for teams to lay down a fast lap. Fortunately most of the teams were able to put together some fast laps on Saturday in the dry conditions.
One of the teams with a fast lap was none other than GST Motorsports. The team competed in the first two GTA events taking a class record a Willow Springs and then notching up the class, overall time attack and overall production car records at New Jersey Motorsports Park. At Autobahn GST driver Jeff Westphal, having never been on the track before took only two sessions to shatter the existing time attack track record – previously held by Tarzan Yamada in the Crawford Performance STI – with a 1:23.594 (see the lap here). As track conditions went away in the afternoon Westphal was unable to improve on this time, which was less than one tick from the production car track record – a 1:22.6 held by Andy Pilgrim in a Corvette expressly built to C6.R specs. Both Westphal and GST team principle, Mike Warfield told us afterward that they left, “a lot of time on the table” and that a sub 1:22 is not out of reach.
The most impressive part of the GST Motorsports effort is the sheer simplicity of it all. At Autobahn the car was transported from California in WORLD Racing’s massive transporter with only some E85 fuel jugs, spare wheels and tires and whatever tools that fit inside the car. The team didn’t even have room to bring the nitrogen tank needed for the air jacks in order to properly service the car or allow for suspension adjustments (a must given the bumpy circuit). The GST Motorsports crew of Warfield and Earl Lenaming continue to confound the time attack world by giving Westphal a blisteringly fast, reliable machine on a broken shoestring of a budget. It will be exciting to watch this team really turn up the wick at their Infineon Raceway home track in November.
Tony Wiesenhahn and the TurninConcepts team normally compete in Limited GT AWD. However coming fresh off of a Third place finish at the NASA Nationals the team had a set of Unlimited-spec Hoosier DOT R-compounds to burn so they jumped up a class for this event. After a popped wastegate hose in the first session said wastegate stuck open in the second session and then an exhaust leak in third session (repaired with help from WORLD Racing) Wiesenhahn was finally able to run a very fast 1:28.974 good enough for Second in class as well as the second fastest time of the entire event. You can read all about the TurninConcepts effort in their own words here. We like the part where they discuss the possibility of an Unlimited GT build and we also hear a rumor that the team is plotting a possible trip west to compete at the GTA Infineon finals.
Ryan Upham’s TeamWIN Evo can best be described as an underdog with only 325whp. But this didn’t stop him from laying down a 1:31.445, which was good enough for Third Place in Unlimited GT AWD and fourth fastest of the event. Upham was pulling double duty at Autobahn also competing in NASA’s ST-2 class, where he qualified third on Saturday but retired early on in the race after contact with another car. You can read more about how the TeamWIN Evo did this weekend here.
Performance Motorsport brought its two-car Unlimited GT RWD effort out from New Jersey and the team was met with all sorts of challenges. Starting when the engine seized in Gary Rubio’s 370Z. This forced the team to borrow the engine from one of their street cars in order to make the event. On Saturday the team discovered that the shocks in the Performance Motorsport Z06 Corvette were improperly valved, which didn’t allow Carmine Dell Aquilla to make a fast lap. To add insult to injury a wind gust blew over the canopy on the Performance Motorsport rig taking out the back window of Dell Aquilla’s Corvette. In the end Rubio went 1:34.851 to take top honors in Unlimited GT RWD in the Performance Motorsport 370Z, while Dell Aquilla could only muster a 1:42.264 in the team’s ill-handling Corvette.
As it has been at the first two Global Time Attacks the WORLD Racing Team Need For Speed Scion tC was expected to dominate the timing sheets. After all Chris Rado broke the Unlimited GT FF time attack track records at both Willow Springs International Raceway and New Jersey Motorsports Park. This same car already holds the Unlimited FWD record at Autobahn with a 1:30.717. However the GTA event at this track did not feature Rado’s familiar black Scion but rather a new silver second gen tC, which was being completed by the team right up until the final time attack session on Saturday. This being the maiden run for the car the time was not surprising – a mild 1:43.717 with a spin due to an incorrect shock height that some were calling a California rake.
With Rado out of the running another sinister black front driver stepped to the fore. Aaron Byram’s Pure Tuning Honda Civic hatch was a crowd favorite and one of the finest FWD Honda time attack builds we’ve seen in a long time. With a naturally aspirated K24 swap making all of 260whp the EK didn’t make much but at 1,850lbs (without Byram’s lanky self all up in it) the car didn’t weigh much either. All of this combined with Byram’s experience at Autobahn made for one very fast lap – 1:31.628 to be exact – which gave Byram the top Unlimited GT FF time as well as the fifth fastest time of the weekend.
Limited GT AWD was set to be an all Evo battle between Ryan Gates, Jeremy Rohrs and Mark Forenbaher. However Rohrs damaged the transmission on his SSP Evo X on the way to winning the class at New Jersey Motorsports Park. After a replacement transmission couldn’t be located in time Rohrs brought the SSP GT-R. At Autobahn Rohrs was once again plagued by transmission problems (a common problem with track R35s). Rohrs could do not better than a 1:37.180 earning him Second in Limited GT AWD with Forenbaher clocking a 1:39.163, which was good enough for Third place and a set of sweet steak knives.
But the biggest story in Limited GT AWD and arguably the entire weekend was the inclusion of the Gates 311.com Nitto Tire Evo X. Gates dominated the Street Tire class on his way to a 2009 class championship in the now-defunct Redline Time Attack series. In 2010 Gates moved up to the Limited class but a slew of mechanical failures gave him nothing but poor times at best and DNFs a majority of the time. But Autobahn marked a return to the Gates way of old with a very strong 1:30.692 fast lap to not win Limited GT AWD but sit as the third fastest time of the event. Gates’ fast lap was not enough to best the 1:28.211 track record held by Brian Lock in the COBB Tuning GT-R. However Gates did tell us that he has run as fast as 1:25 in practice at Autobahn’s South Circuit. Check out Gates’ recap of his GTA experience here.
In Street GT AWD Daniel O’Donnell and Professional Awesome were primed to blow out the existing class record, which they held. But Miciah Hackbarth wanted that record for himself and his Evo 9. Another challenge for Pro Awesome was a mechanical one. The team lost a head gasket on the dyno Thursday before the event. Not a big deal until the team couldn’t find a suitable replacement. After driving all over Indiana to locate two Eclipse head gaskets that could be sandwiched together in a muy-MacGyver fix (they learned it by watching UMS) Professional Awesome was ready to go… Until they broke their transmission late Friday while on the dyno (where else?). After another all-nighter and a late arrival to the track O’Donnell was ready to go out on track. The team also made a tire switch from Hankook to the Toyo Proxes R1R and without any data on the these new hoops no one knew how the car would do. After the last session on Saturday everyone knew – O’Donnell reset his own track record by a scant 4 tenths with a 1:34.275. You can see Professional Awesome’s post documenting the prep here and the fast lap here.
While Hackbarth could not manage any better than a 1:36.492 in the dry on Saturday his fluid drifts that he carried through both Turns 1 and 2 in the rain on Sunday had everyone talking.
In Street GT RWD Bryan Hedian couldn’t secure transportation for his Wired Race Team Honda S2000 from New Jersey to Joliet so he did the next best thing. Hedian jumped in his Street Tire class race car with his father in tow in his daily driven Civic and made the 13 hour trek with his hip hugger Bride seat holding him in place the entire way. Once at Autobahn he followed up his class victory in New Jersey with another win. Hedian’s 1:44.034 was more than enough to beat Frank Hart in the #30 Chick Fil A Mazda RX-8 (best time attack car name ever!).
Just some of the goodies in our Mothers Goodie bags that are given to every GTA team and the JUST FOR KICKS car gathering entrants.
While the conditions weren’t ideal and the overall car count was lighter than expected the GTA Rd 3 at Autobahn still attracted some of North America’s fastest time attack teams. We witnessed the WORLD premier of the WORLD Racing Fwing 2.0 tC as well as continued our streak of breaking records at each track we visit thanks to GST Motorsports and Professional Awesome. The final Global Time Attack of the 2011 season will be on November 11-12 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA and you can get more information here. See below for a complete list of results and updated track records.
RESULTS: GLOBAL TIME ATTACK RD 3 – AUTOBAHN COUNTRY CLUB
UNLIMITED GT AWD
P1: Jeff Westphal – GST Motorsports Subaru Impreza – 1:23.594
P2: Tony Wiesenhahn – TurninConcepts Subaru WRX – 1:28.974
P3: Ryan Upham – TeamWIN Racing Mitsubishi Evo 8 – 1:31.445
P4: Tony Szirka – UMS Tuning Mitsubishi Evo 8 – 1:32.189
P5: Andrei Tsaran – THMotorsports Subaru WRX STi – NT
UNLIMITED GT RWD
P1: Gary Rubio – Performance Motorsport Nissan 370Z – 1:34.851
P2: Carmine Dell Aquilla – Performance Motorsport Chevrolet Z06 Corvette – 1:42.264
UNLIMITED GT FF
P1: Aaron Byram – Pure Tuning Honda Civic – 1:31.628
P2: Chris Rado – Team Need For Speed WORLD Racing Scion tC – 1:43.717
LIMITED GT AWD
P1: Ryan Gates – Gates311.com Nitto Tire Mitsubishi Evo X –
P2: Jeremy Rohrs – SSP Nissan GT-R – 1:37.180
P3: Mark Forenbaher – Team Foren/Ivey Tune Mitsubishi Evo 9 – 1:39.163
STREET GT AWD
P1: Daniel O’Donnell – Professional Awesome Mitsubishi Evo 7 – 1:34.275
P2: Micaiah Hackbarth – Mitsubishi Evo 9 – 1:36.492
STREET GT RWD
P1: Bryan Hedian – Wired Race Team Honda S2000 – 1:44.034
P2: Frank Hart – #30 Chick Fil A Mazda RX-8 – 1:46.158
AUTOBAHN COUNTRY CLUB SOUTH CIRCUIT TIME ATTACK TRACK RECORDS
UNLIMITED GT AWD
Jeff Westphal – GST Motorsports Subaru Impreza – 1:23.594 – Global Time Attack, September 17, 2011
UNLIMITED GT RWD
Scott Bush – BC Racing/Relentess Autosports/JWT Nissan 350Z – 1:32.382 – Redline Time Attack, June 21, 2009
UNLIMITED GT FF
Chris Rado – WORLD Racing Team Need For Speed Scion tC – 1:30.717 – Redline Time Attack, June 21, 2009
LIMITED GT AWD
Brian Lock – COBB Tuning Nissan GTR – 1:28.211 – Redline Time Attack, June 13, 2010
LIMITED GT RWD
Matt Andrews – Nitto/Robispec Mazda Miata – 1:36.429 – Redline Time Attack, June 21, 2009
LIMITED GT FF
Ross Miller – Ptuning/Lustine Scion tC – 1:35.771 – Redline Time Attack, June 21, 2009
STREET GT AWD
Daniel O’Donnell – Professional Awesome Misubishi Evo VII – 1:34.275 – Global Time Attack, September 17, 2011
STREET GT RWD
Aaron Leichty – Injected Performance Honda S2000 – 1:39.746 – Redline Time Attack, June 21, 2009
STREET GT FF
William Chan – Enmo Racing Honda Civic – 1:35.986 – Redline Time Attack, June 13, 2010