Ten years isn’t any small feat.
I keep in mind when the Assault sequence first got here onto the scene. I truthfully didn’t suppose a lot of it on the time, probably as a result of Tsukuba Circuit already had Battle Evome for time assault. The blokes behind the Battle Evome occasions did it nicely; they stored issues amateur-focused and fairly small, and it was a real pleasure to cowl. I acquired to know the regulars and watched their vehicles evolve through the years, till the sequence led to 2016.
Battle Evolve was at all times a pleasant distinction to Rev Pace journal’s Tremendous Battle occasion, which has been contested at Tsukuba Circuit for the previous 30-plus years. The annual Tremendous Battle nonetheless invitations Japanese tuning outlets and components producers to combat it out for high honors each December.
Assault, nevertheless, was completely different. It introduced everybody collectively – the novice racers and professional groups alike.
It’s why, at Assault Tsukuba you’ll see Yoshiki ‘Fireplace’ Ando in his 49-second Escort Racing Evo, and Nobuteru ‘Nob’ Taniguchi behind the wheel of varied store demo machines, plus kei vehicles and home-built creations. Everyone seems to be taking pictures for quick lap instances of their particular person periods. The very best factor of all is that Assault has grow to be a correct sequence, with extra rounds at Sugo, Suzuka, Fuji and Okayama.
It’s grown a lot, that Tsukuba Circuit is beginning to have points accommodating all of the Assault entrants. For 2023, there have been 155 vehicles entered, which is simply insane.
The factor that actually impressed me although, is that 59 of those entrants posted lap instances underneath 1 minute. The quickest of all – Fireplace Ando – ran a 50.112-second lap, only a slither off his 49.897-second private greatest and Tsukuba TC2000 monitor document for a modified automotive.
As at all times, the very first thing I did on arrival at Assault Tsukuba final Saturday was head up pit lane and check out all of the heavy hitters earlier than the monitor opened.
It was so cool to see the RE Amemiya crew at a time assault occasion once more. They was Tsukuba regulars, and naturally have been chasing lap instances earlier than the time period ‘time assault’ was even a factor.
The group have been there to crew on their previous 20B 3-rotor FD3S monitor automotive, which is now campaigned by an RE Amemiya buyer.
This preliminary stroll gave me a have a look at Assault regulars to see how they’d modified during the last 12 months, and a primary look at model new entrants, just like the Madface x D Spec GR Yaris which got here all the way in which from South Korea. With driver Lee Daejun on the wheel, the Rocket Bunny-kitted Yaris managed a greatest lap of 1″02.665.
Whereas seeing worldwide entrants is at all times thrilling, for 2023 it was one thing else altogether that made the occasion further memorable for me: Suzuki Jimnys!
That’s proper, simply once you suppose you’ve seen all of it in Japan, a bunch of track-prepped Jimnys zoom previous you on the Tsukuba hairpin, lifting their left entrance wheels excessive within the air as their strong entrance axles wrestle to deal with ranges of lateral grip they have been by no means designed to deal with. Don’t fear, I’m dedicating a whole publish to all of the Jimnys out at Assault Tsukuba, as I do know you’ll get an actual kick out of them.
Cusco had the one GR Corolla on the occasion and posted a quickest lap time of 1″02, barely slower than its PB 1’01.229. That’s crazy-fast for what is basically a evenly prepped inventory automotive.
Because of Cusco, everybody in attendance was in a position to bask in some Tremendous GT gold from again in 2007. The GT300 class Cusco Dunlop GD Subaru Impreza is a legendary automotive from a time when Tremendous GT’s second tier class was extra fascinating than ever.
Right here’s Underneath Suzuki having a chat with Kumamura-san of Techno Professional Spirits in entrance of Suzuki’s iconic Scorch Racing S15.
This was the primary time the Silvia had been seen out within the daylight since some main updates. A transaxle gearbox has been launched, whereas just about all the pieces else has been re-engineered, together with refined carbon bodywork that’s not full but. If the S15 chassis had ever been used within the Tremendous GT GT500 class, it in all probability would have regarded one thing like this!
The automotive was for show solely at Assault Tsukuba, and Suzuki-san now has just some months left to complete issues off earlier than its shipped right down to Australia for WTAC later within the 12 months.
That is one other automotive I must present you extra of, partially as a result of it’s a GT-R – and we love GT-Rs of each technology – but additionally as a result of that is the brand new AutoBahn time assault machine. It was in-built collaboration with Bando-san, who has for now retired his all-carbon Z30 Soarer, beforehand one of many quickest vehicles in Japanese time assault. Contemporary out of the field, the R33 got here away with the fourth quickest lap time of the day, a 54.184.
Seeing the paddock at Tsukuba so stuffed with vehicles was wonderful. It was an actual mixture of previous faithfuls and new vehicles able to be hunted.
I’m grouping a few of my favourite vehicles collectively in a separate publish, the place I can share them with you in additional element. There was simply a lot to see and absorb.
Auto Produce Boss, working in collaboration with Bridgestone, introduced out their RZ34 for some scorching laps. A fast look over the automotive revealed it to be in principally inventory type with Countless brakes, adjustable coilovers, an exhaust and a few delicate aero the principle adjustments. The truth that it managed to lap Tsukuba in 1-minute flat goes to indicate simply how succesful the brand new Z is.
The paddock was at all times busy, with vehicles both being prepped for their subsequent session, heading out onto the monitor, or arriving again having simply achieved three or 4 scorching laps with the 20-minute periods. I noticed a couple of makeshift pits utilizing heaters to maintain brakes heat – any benefit in order that the automotive is able to assault proper after its out lap.
Amongst all of the carbon-fiber-clad FDs that resemble GT vehicles greater than the manufacturing automotive they began out as, it was good to see a small group of RX-8s.
Whereas these vehicles lacked huge energy, their virtually excellent weight distribution and dealing with make them an incredible monitor automotive. They clearly reply nicely to setup, with two out of the 5 RX-8s lapping within the 59-second zone.
We will’t overlook the Suzuki Swift both, which continues to be a preferred entry-level time assault automotive. This one, constructed by Rainbow Auto (the Jimny specialist that I’ll have a separate publish on), actually regarded the half with all kinds of aero touches. 1″03.174 was its greatest time on the day.
The vehicles spilled out into the auxiliary pits proper outdoors the doorway of the circuit. Above you possibly can see how they’re positioned beneath the obstacles on the surface of Flip 1.
An enormous a part of time assault is the tires, specifically choosing the fitting sort, compound, sizing and guaranteeing they’re stored heat prior to every outing. Shaving away the worn rubber that tends to bead alongside the tread can also be vital, permitting the tires to be useable proper from the get-go.
If there’s one factor I really like about Japan, it’s the way in which JDM touches are utilized to Euro vehicles like this BMW E46, which regarded so useful sitting on a set of Enkei wheels. SunBeam in Tokyo is grasp in terms of this!
Kei vehicles are as a lot part of Assault as 800hp aero monsters, and are a reminder that it’s not the kind of automotive you drive that’s vital, however what you do with it.
It’s additionally exactly why there’s a lot selection at Assault – huge and small, low cost and costly, extraordinarily highly effective and no energy in any respect.
The FF class at Assault has at all times been excessive profile, as it’s house to the quickest Civics in Japan. Considered one of them is the naturally aspirated Rise Up EK9, which ran a 58.4-second lap to complete forty second total.
But it surely was one other EK9 that shocked everybody throughout Friday observe, and I’ll contact on that automotive in a separate publish.
From outdoors the circuit entrance and proper down the entry street that runs alongside the middle of the Tsukuba structure, vehicles consumed each potential little bit of area.
It’s the place I noticed this Honda CR-X from Usui Jidousha, which regarded like it might be equally at house on present at Wekfest Japan. Simply have a look at that engine bay! Mark shot the brilliant yellow EF8 whereas he was in Japan final month, so keep tuned for a full function on this recent construct quickly.
After I made all of it the way in which to the far paddock, I used to be shocked to seek out extra competing vehicles.
Together with this wide-body Toyota MR-S, operating a Honda Okay-swap, which was lapping in 1-minute flat all day lengthy.
The very best factor of the day, nevertheless, was the impression Assault Tsukuba 2023 left on me. Seeing extra competing vehicles than ever at Tsukuba for any occasion was reassurance that automotive tradition – not less than on the time assault facet of issues – isn’t just alive and nicely in Japan, it’s completely thriving.
I’ve acquired an entire lot extra coming from Assault, so ensure you test again quickly. You don’t wish to miss these Jimnys!