Watch: Fireplace Ando’s 49-Second Tsukuba Lap

As soon as upon a time, that notion {that a} ‘tuning automotive’ might break the 50-second-lap barrier at Tsukuba Circuit appeared like a fairytale. Final Friday, after a very long time making an attempt and coming tantalizingly shut on numerous events, Toshiki ‘Fireplace’ Ando did simply that in his Escort Racing Evo.

We’ve been following Ando-san’s efforts for some time now, and ever since he ran a 50.233-second lap in late 2021 to eclipse the beforehand held data (Beneath Suzuki’s 50.366 lap set in December 2017 in his Scorch Racing Nissan Silvia S15, after which HKS’s 50.259 lap set the identical month of their TRB-03 Toyota 86), a 49-second lap at TC2000 solely appeared like a matter of time. However the achievement didn’t come straightforward.


To set any lap document, all stars have to be optimally aligned – the automotive, the motive force, the monitor and climate situations. And at this degree of time assault racing – absolutely the pinnacle of the game – the tolerance for sub-optimal efficiency is non-existent; all elements must carry out at their absolute greatest.


When Dino caught up with Ando-san and the Escort Racing group at Assault Tsukuba again in February final 12 months and captured these photos, the 49-second lap was in sight and hopes had been excessive. Ando managed a 50.342-second lap in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX on the occasion, one other staggeringly-fast blast round Tsukuba however not the quantity he hoped for.

After a brand new engine construct and a few extra ultra-fine tuning in 2022, on January 27, 2023 all of it got here collectively for the Escort Racing group, leading to a 49.897-second lap. The in-car footage, as launched by Ando-san in the present day, is totally wild. Hit play above!


So the place to from right here? In case you forged your minds again to March 2018, you may bear in mind HKS working a 49.445-second lap at Tsukuba within the TRB-03. The difficulty for a lot of with that lap time, is that it was achieved utilizing full slick tires – particularly Yokohama Advan A005s – versus semi-slicks, which because the very begin of time assault competitors have been an necessary attribute of a ‘tuning automotive’. Preserving with custom, Ando-san’s 49-second lap was set on semi-slicks, specifically Yokohama Advan A050s.


Given how rapidly he’s now gone on semis, it can be fascinating to see what TC2000 lap time Ando-san might obtain on slicks. Beforehand, it won’t have been one thing he was fascinated about testing, however with World Time Assault Problem’s current transfer to any manufacturing tire being eligible within the Professional lessons for the September occasion and past, we may even see a shift in considering. What do you suppose, although? Ought to time assault racing be restricted to semi-slicks, or ought to full slick tires be welcomed in a brand new period for the game?

No matter what time assault’s future holds – both for worldwide occasions like WTAC or native Tsukuba Circuit gatherings – Yoshiki ‘Fireplace’ Ando’s 49.897-second lap on semi-slicks will go down within the historical past guide as one of many most necessary ever. Congratulations to your entire Escort Racing group for this unbelievable achievement.

For an prolonged take a look at record-setting lap, try Narita Dogfight’s wonderful video protection here.

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