November 7, 2012 was the ninth time the Super Lap Battle visited Buttonwillow Raceway Park and the second for the Global Time Attack but it was the first time the two biggest US time attack events came together for a historic partnership.
Forty-eight top teams tackled Buttonwillow’s iconic Clockwise 13 configuration and at the end of the day five class records (including the overall) were broken in addition to more than a few cars. It would seem that oftentimes speed comes at the cost of reliability.
Tony Szirka from UMS Tuning and Scott Tsuneishi from Source Interlink Media took care of tech inspections at SLB before the cars went out on track.
The Super Lap Battle cars gridded up according to lap time.
In Street FWD Jose Guzman put his Circuit Dreams Acura RSX Type-S on the podium, as his 2:06.382 was good enough for third place.
Ken Suen came home in second place in Street FWD in the Godspeed x SportCar Motion Honda Civic Si with a 2:04.344 lap. In April Suen won the Street FWD class at the GTA event with a 2:01.872 and while the temperature was much warmer GTA class rules also allow for a faster 140 UTQG tire. While Suen’s lap put him only 1.237 seconds out of first place his timing was too lean burning a hole in a piston and ending his day early. We expect Suen and the SCM crew to be back with a more potent engine and even greater aero tweaks in pursuit of the Street FWD record, held by Clint Boisdeau and his now-retired Focus with a 1:59.086.
Pradana Wilianto lifted two wheels over Magic Mountain on the way to lifting himself to the top spot of the Street FWD podium in his Acura CSX Type-S with a 2:03.107. It looks like Wilianto received some help from Evasive and Sportcar Motion, which is a good thing since both shops are heavyweights in the FA5 tuning world.
Terry Liu put his Platte Forme a.g. BMW Z4 M in the third spot of Street RWD with a 2:01.421. Liu’s Z4 is quite a rare time attack machine but if any shop can make this Bimmer sing it’s Platte Forme a.g.
Second place in Street RWD went to Alex Peng in the momofoolio Racing Honda S2000 with a 1:56.881. Peng crashed the car hard at BW as recently as October 12 of this year and then he damaged his splitter on the drive up to Buttonwillow from Los Angeles but none of that could keep him off the podium. In April at the GTA event Peng came in third in Street RWD with a 1:58.814. It’s clear there is more time in this true street car.
Robert Walker returned to Buttonwillow in the Evasive Motorsports Honda S2000 to improve upon his Street RWD record. His blistering 1:53.990 easily took care of that task besting his previous SLB class record by some 2.772 seconds. While Walker held the SLB record Carl Rydquist stole the Buttonwillow time attack class record back in April at the GTA event in the Berk 135i. At the latest SLB Walker’s 1:53.990 was more than enough to take both the SLB and Buttonwillow time attack class records.
Modified magazine editor Peter Tarach brought his Evo from the pages of his publication to the Super Lap Battle and his 2:04.858 put him in eighth place in Street AWD.
Charles Michael “Bucky” Lasek is a 12-time X Games medalist (six of which are gold) and he competes in the Global RallyCross on the Subaru Puma RallyCross Team USA. In his spare time he likes to time attack his street-driven STI. Lasek came in seventh place in Street AWD with a 2:04.322. Lasek’s Subaru STI was mildly prepared for Super Lap Battle but he promises he’ll be back with more improvements soon enough.
Markos Mylonas just missed the Street AWD podium in his Snail Performance/Forced Air Technologies Subaru WRX as his 2:01.895 put him in fourth place. The FAT Snail WRX is normally an Enthusiast Class car at GTA but since SLB doesn’t feature this class Mylonas stepped up to the Street Class and finished strongly in a fast group.
Thomas Smith brought his Thomas Smith Racing Subaru STI out from Las Vegas and his 2:00.896 put him in third place in Street AWD. In April Smith went 2:01.783 at the GTA event. While it’s pleasing to see him develop this chassis even more we can’t wait until he brings out the new Zenkai Motorsports STI. He promises records will be broken and we have no reason to doubt this claim. Believe it not this is Thomas Smith’s daily driver. He also won a Mustang GT in the Octane Academy but we’ve never seen him time attack that pony.
In-car video of Thomas Smith’s 2:00.896 lap in his Street Class STI.
Taylor “Dr. Koby D. Kone Killa” Wilson came in second place in Street AWD in his Snail Performance/Forced Air Technologies Subaru WRX with a 1:59.511. With two strong finishes this season Wilson also finished in third place in the 2012 GTA Street Class Championship Chase.
Given his speed it’s no surprise to see Alex Peng atop the Street AWD charts, however his Massimo Power/Sector Mitsubishi Evo was much more of an unknown and his 1:54.725 time was even more shocking considering it was some 1.085 ticks faster than the existing record. Street AWD has just been put on notice. Before Super Lap Battle the smart money was on Daniel O’Donnell and the Professional Awesome Evo to break Martin Musial’s long-standing (since Nov of 2010!) SLB record. But after PA moved up to Limited everyone thought that record was safe. It’s safe to say that after this event no one will discount Peng and the Massimo Power/Sector team. Peng promises that there is much more speed left in this Evo too. We can’t wait.
At SLB the Hasport Honda CRX was plagued by electrical issues. Andy “The Great White” Hope never turned an official timed lap leaving him in seventh place in Limited FWD. However, his in-car telemetry recorded a sub-two minute lap during practice, which hints at the potential of this car. The Hasport CRX has been through quite a few iterations over the years, most recently undergoing a J35 swap, the SOHC 60-degree V-6 normally found in the Accord. Yes, this is a V-6 CRX.
Kevin Courtney lifted the wheels of the Bobby Lane Racing “Grocery Getter” Honda Accord and his 2:02.290 was good for fifth place in Limited FWD. Courtney put the Bobby Lane Accord, then the Project Import Accord in second place in Street FWD at the GTA event at Buttonwillow in April of this year with a 2:05.871. This is a true, albeit very loud, Street Class car but the team found themselves without a tire solution (GTA’s Street Class tire 140 UTQG minimum is much lower than SLB’s 180) prompting the leap to Limited. To put it simply this unorthodox car and team is loaded with potential.
Damien Cook’s JRZ/Donkey/ Bop/JHPUSA Honda Civic may not look like much at all but his 1:59.264 put him solidly into third place in Limited FWD and made that little black ’94 EX into the giant killer of the field.
Second place in Limited FWD went to Clint Boisdeau in the Novak HVAC Honda Civic with a 1:58.923. In April at the GTA event at Buttonwillow Alex Peng went 1:59.843 and with absolutely no changes on the car Boisdeau went 1:58.923 at SLB. That’s a difference of .92 of a second. We think a driver shootout is in order.
See Clint Boisdeau’s 1:58.923 in the Novak HVAC Civic here.
Not only did Tim Kuo take first place in Limited FWD in the SportCar Motion Acura Integra Type-R his 1:55.222 reset the class record that he already held in an SCM Civic. In April at the GTA event at Buttonwillow Kuo went 1:56.214, not nearly at fast as his 1:55.222 blast, which was a mere .094 of a second faster than his existing 1:55.316. Team principle Loi Song said the car could have gone even faster but they lost fourth gear, which ended their day early.
Dave Norton and his Spec Clutch Nissan S14 240SX went 1:58.028, which was good enough for fourth place in Limited RWD. For the SLB Norton switched from his trusty Toyo R888s to the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 3s but he has been struggling recently with suspension, transmission and timing issues and his time was indicative of this. However, with his appearance Norton did manage to cinch the 2012 GTA Limited Class Championship.
Here’s a blast from the past. Time attack rock star and all-around fast shoe Dez Ballard made a solid return to the scene as he put the European Auto Source BMW M3 onto the third step of the Limited Class RWD podium with a 1:56.841. Ballard’s last-minute European Auto Source assignment came with help from Hankook and the company’s new Ventus TD as well as his very understanding then-fiancé Sara who let him lay waste to Buttonwillow in the M3 only three days before their wedding.
This is Jhonnattan Castro’s 2012 Formula Drift 350Z (complete with working windshield mounted brake light) competing at the Super Lap Battle. But Castro wasn’t drifting the course. One-time Formula Drifter and now time attack record-breaker Carl Rydquist stepped into to drive the City Tire Online supported drift car. Considering this was a drift-spec and not a time attack car Rydquist drove well enough to get the City Tire Online/Progreso/Hankook Tire Nissan 350Z into second place in Limited RWD with a 1:52.679. This was after the car broke a tension arm that was welded back together. In addition to this the heat from the turbo VQ coming through the floorpan was so great that it actually blistered Rydquist’s heel. Serious persistence from both crew and driver. The reason Rydquist was driving Castro’s FD Z instead of his usual Berk Technology ride at Buttonwillow was because the car was sold to a Canadian customer shortly after the SEMA Show. The familiar Berk BMW will be missed.
Another BMW that has been showing much improvement at each event is the Platte Forme a.g. BMW E46 M3. No less than world-renowned time attack legend Eiji “Tarzan” Yamada took first place in Limited RWD with the Platte Forme a.g. BMW E46 M3 and his 1:50.755 shattered the existing class record (held by Rydquist in the Berk 135i) by some 1.732 seconds! In April of this year at the GTA event at Buttonwillow Tarzan could do no better than a 1:54.121. The Platte Forme a.g. team worked hard in between events reducing weight, improving aero and increasing power and the results were the fruit of this labor.
Roy Narvaez came in third place in Limited RWD with a 1:57.781 in his RD Engineering Nissan GT-R. Narvaez entered his R35 in the Street Class of the GTA event at Buttonwillow in April with a best lap of 2:00.789. The RD Engineering R35 is in full-trim, meaning a complete interior and close to factory spec making his 1:57.781 that much more impressive.
JC Meynet and his AQ/Meynet Racing Subaru STI came in second place in Limited AWD with a 1:51.754. While Meynet didn’t take the top spot at Buttonwillow he still holds the Limited AWD class record with a 1:48.550 blast. Meynet missed out on first place by a scant .052 of a second. He posted his fast time in an early session however the car’s fourth gear gave out putting it on the trailer before Meynet could make another attempt.
See JC Meynet’s 1:51.754 in his AQ/Meynet Racing Subaru STI.
Professional Awesome and Daniel O’Donnell shocked everyone by moving from Street to Limited AWD at Buttonwillow. Somewhat less shocking was yet another victory for this scrappy, underdog of a team in Limited with a 1:51.702 fast lap. The dynamic PA duo of Michael Lewin and Grant Davis made a host of changes to the team’s venerable Evo 7 and somehow managed to squeeze 295 cross section Hankook Ventus TDs under the factory sheet metal, albeit with much bending and plying. After missing Texas and moving up to Limited at Buttonwillow the Professional Awesome team lost the 2012 GTA Street Class Championship to Doug Wind and his Modern Performance Dodge SRT-4 even though Wind didn’t make it to Buttonwillow. This was the first time PA visited Buttonwillow and the team worked to lessen the learning curve. On the day before they enlisted Jeff Westphal to help set up the car. Rumor has it that the team even built O’Donnell a simulator that replicated their Evo’s seat, pedal, wheel and shifter placement and designed an exact replica of the CW13 configuration, since none existed before. Talk about coming prepared!
Daniel O’Donnell’s 1:51.702 fast lap in the Professional Awesome Evo 7.
Chris Rado and his WORLD Racing team brought their Team Need for Speed WORLD Racing Scion tC. The car won Unlimited FWD with a 1:47.749 but Rado wasn’t driving. He handed the reins over to Jeff Westphal. Rado didn’t drive at Buttonwillow because he is phasing out the tC in favor for a new Mercedes-Benz tuning and motorsports program. After only a few laps in the car Westphal came within one second of Rado’s Unlimited FWD record, although that record was set with the team’s first generation black tC, known at Fwing 1.0. It appears that WORLD’s tC will be retired or sold soon begging the question of whether it will ever show its true potential.
This is the only image of Jeff Westphal in the GST Motorsports Impreza on track. A fueling system failure on the team’s first out lap broke a rod, which punched through the block. The oil ignited on the uppipe and turbo sending Westphal in the pits with a huge fire under the hood. No one was injured but the car was finished. No time and a third place finish in Unlimited AWD. One positive note was that the team clinched the 2012 GTA Unlimited Class Championship.
Travis Barnes returned to Buttonwillow in his Snail Performance Subaru WRX and his 1:56.380 landed him solidly in second place in Unlimited AWD. Barnes showed a huge improvement over the 1:59.367 he ran at the GTA event at Buttonwillow in April. Barnes and his Snail Performance Subaru WRX also finished the season in fourth place in the 2012 GTA Unlimited Class Championship standings.
David Kern lead all times in Unlimited AWD as his RaceKern.com Mitsubishi Evo won the class with a 1:49.804. The Unlimited AWD-winning RaceKern.com Evo is not a time attack car at all, but rather a Pikes Peak hill climb special. While the purpose of the RaceKern.com Evo will remain aimed at the Peak, Kern has promised to return to select time attack events with more “modular” modifications that will allow him to earn faster time attack times and the ability to transform back into a Peak attacker.
David Kern’s 1:49.804 lap.
Bryan Friday put his Project Import Honda S2000 into fourth place in Unlimited RWD with a 2:01.123. At the GTA event in April Friday ran a 2:04.298 after sustaining heavy damage in a hit to the wall. It’s great to see the car back in action, moving up in class and going faster.
Robert Walker and the recently debuted Evasive Motorsports Scion FR-S finished in third place in Unlimited RWD with a 1:59.272. The Evasive FR-S was the talk of the SEMA Show and it was also the darling of the SLB paddock with its aggressive JDM-looking Super GT inspired aero package. While the Evasive FR-S looked the part, the performance is still a work in progress with only an HKS supercharger on the stock engine making 203hp. Were it not for the Lexan windows the Evasive FR-S would have run in the Limited Class since the Maxxis tires were only rated with an 80 UTQG.
Don Pastor put the Renner Motorsport BMW M3 into second place in Unlimited RWD with his 1:51.860 lap. Renner Motorsport is located in Inglewood, California and they started with VW tuning before turning their focus toward Subarus. This M3 represents their latest foray into the BMW market. The Renner M3 holds the title for the fastest BMW at M-Fest two years in a row. After their strong finish we’re sure we’ll be seeing Pastor and Renner at more time attack events to come.
For the second year in a row the FX Motorsports Development Acura NSX won Unlimited RWD and set a new overall track record with a 1:40.379 in the last lap of the last session. However there was one change, in 2011 Tyler McQuarrie was behind the wheel of the FXMD NXX but this year Billy Johnson returned to claim the record. It was not an easy road to the record for the FXMD team as they destroyed a motor during testing the day prior, stayed up all night and made it back to B-Dub to reset the record on the last lap of the last session.
Billy Johnson’s 1:40.379 lap in the FX Motorsports Development NSX.
Westphal came into the pits a little hot as they say and thus GST’s day was over before it even began. This is the second year that GST dominated every round leading up to the finals, setting up a face off with the FXMD NSX and it’s the second year that the car had a catastrophic failure. This was to everyone’s dismay as the promise of a FXMD vs. GST time attack is a worthy one. GST team principle Mike Warfield believes his car is cursed to never run well at Buttonwillow. Given that this car is capable of setting a time attack record a nearly every other circuit it visits we tend to agree with him.
Click here for a complete list of results and records from the Super Lap Battle finals.
The Super Lap Battle was the final round of the 2012 GTA Championship Chase. Click here to see the final Championship standings.
Amanda Harvie, Aaron Lundgren, Kyle Lewis and David Karey captured some incredible images from the Super Lap Battle finals. Click here to see the complete gallery. And to see the live stream videos on demand, watch them here.
This concludes the 2012 GTA Championship season. On behalf of the entire GTA team, thank you for your support and see you in 2013!
Thank you to SCION Racing for sponsoring the Official Timing and Scoring at this event.