Woah, what a day! The official test day, which I was able to get along to on October 13, was held the day before the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge was set to kick off. Hundreds of people swarmed the venue with the hope of seeing their favourite drivers from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and numerous other contesting countries. I couldn’t help but feel that the tensions were high, as competitors were watching clocks, mechanics were fixing last-minute damage, and the rest of the flurry behind them were setting up trader stalls and the car show. Pure madness. 

My mission for the day was to get up close with the teams, check out their cars, get in their way, and get familiar with the venue before it all kicked off the next day. It’s safe to say I spent most of my time lurking the pits, as there was plenty of action to be seen. 

The first car I wanted to see was Under Suzuki’s Nissan Silvia S15. Last year he finished third, as he damaged his third engine of the weekend. This time, though, with two billet engines on hand, the car is certainly moving and will hopefully last a little longer. 

Woah. This thing is huge! You have to see this car in the flesh to appreciate how big it is. The rear wing is massive, and the front splitter is just as insane. The team was so relaxed, buzzing around the car going about their checks. 

On track it looked fast. Down the front straight speeds were nearing 300kph, and it sounded savage. The billet SR20 sounded on song, as did the massive Garrett turbo. 

One awesome moment I stumbled upon was Keiichi Tsuchiya jumping into the JDM Yard Honda Civic, admiring the build quality and presentation.

Tsuchiya wanted to take it for a spin, and asked over and over if they could relocate the seat for him! Simply awesome seeing this man in the flesh. 

Kiwis Kat Benson and Andy Duffin were out doing their best, with Andy Duffin actually using all of his nitrous oxide. The team scattered to surrounding suburbs to find some more giggle gas, so hopefully we see him in action with the nitrous tomorrow. Andy managed a high 1:31 lap, but was hoping to get the 20B RX-7 into the 1:30s, where he needs to be in order to be competitive. 

Andy's team was confident, though — however, not enough braking force had been applied by Andy, suggesting there is more time in the braking zones. Did we mention it sounds insane? Check out this in-car video from Endless Brakes New Zealand of Andy Duffin during testing!

Kat Benson had a great day testing. Unfortunately the front splitter, well, split in half at higher speeds. Hans Ruiterman, chief mechanic, had it repaired before the next session so Kat could head back out. We won't photograph the repair for obvious reasons, but it was Kiwi styles! 

The Tilton Interiors Mitsubishi Evo was in attendance and out on track, however it wasn't competing. The Tilton Evo's appearance was more of a reminder that, although retired, it's a serious piece of equipment that should not be messed with. Watching sparks fly off the splitter through turn one is always exciting, too ... 

To end this update from the test day, here's a shot of the man who may win this event outright — Under Suzuki — cycling around on a small bike. What a guy! Check out the gallery below, but more importantly, stay tuned for more updates. 

René Vermeer

Dutch, French, or just a Kiwi, René isn’t quite sure, but he does know he has a passion for Japanese vehicles like no other. A well-seasoned Gran Turismo player dating back to his single-digit days, René has a comprehensive knowledge of a wide range of performance vehicles and has owned more than 30 performance cars here in New Zealand, ranging from Nissans to Hondas. A lover of photography, you’ll find him either peeping under someone’s bonnet to snap a detailed shot, or on the side of the racetrack, perfecting his panning.