Photographer and import car world living legend Larry Chen graced us with his presence at this event and decided to beat Dai Yoshihara while he was at it. Driving the SR20DET powered Speedhunters 1970 Datsun 240Z, Chen registered a 2:08.784. Not too shabby considering it was his first time attack, first time driving at Buttonwillow and first time driving the car after receiving its new engine. Future plans are simple, more time attack. Perhaps a career change is in order!
No one expected to see a brand-new Lexus IS out at Buttonwillow, but it was a welcome addition, as it really classed up the paddock. Having left the new Lexus engine back in the garage, the venerable 2JZ found its way under the aggressive sheet metal of the IS and Dai was tasked with performing a full shakedown of the swap, all the while looking to set a fast lap. We have a hunch that there’s going to be some serious work done to this particular example of Lexus’ new 3-series fighter, though we haven’t heard anything official yet. Dai was able to hustle this luxurious cruiser around CW13 in 2:09.531 and I guarantee he was more comfortable than everyone else out there while doing it.
Reid Yoken is living proof that sponsors like to drive fast too. Yoken, sales manager at Whiteline North America, took his personal Chevrolet Corvette out on the track to mix it up with the Limited RWD crowd. Despite a minor off-track voyage, Yoken was all smiles throughout the day, ending with a 2:15.971 and a 10th place finish in the most crowded class of the event.
Limited Class AWD
The excitement and anticipation about the return of Michael Chang in the Evasive Motorsports 2006 Mitsubishi Evo IX was warranted. Chang drove through transmission issues in the first session and lots of traffic in the second to put in a 1st place finish in Limited AWD with a time of 1:49.102. In the third session, the turbo failed, which ended the day of the Evasive crew. All-in-all, not bad for a car that hasn’t turned a wheel in anger since 2011. Evasive isn’t done here, plans to rework the turbocharger and transmission are already in place for future testing in order to push the lap time even lower.
Suffering engine issues before the event, Novak Racing knew they’d be down on power compared to the competition, but a well balanced chassis utilizing JRZ Suspension and OS Giken differentials helped make up the difference in time lost. Clint Boisdeau drove the 2.0L JDM STI powered 1998 Subaru Impreza L to second place with a time of 1:50.029, within a second of first place. Further refinement to the chassis, dampers and aero are in store, as well as additional cooling to support more power in the future. Boisdeau mantra? Testing, testing and more testing!
A 2 year break between competitions proved difficult to overcome for Ryan Gates and the 2008 Gates 311 Evo X. Preparing the car to turn a wheel in anger for the event was more than he expected, requiring months of preparation to be crammed into weeks of actual time. Gates felt the car was amazing, capable of a 1:46, but that the driver wasn’t dialed in and a 1:51.791 was what was netted for a 3rd place finish in Limited AWD. What does the future hold for Ryan Gates? He probably puts it best, “Who can predict the future?”
Sometimes even the best laid plans don’t work out and such was the case for JC Meynet and AQ Motorsports. Due to variables outside of their control, JC was unable to to put down a lap that he felt comfortable with and a fueling issue compounded the day’s difficulties. However, the efforts were still enough for a 1:53.079 and a fourth place finish in the highly competitive Limited AWD class, though JC says he'll “still sleep easy” as he retains the Limited AWD record of 1:48.550 earned at 2010's SLB for another year. We can rest assured that next year will see the AQ Motorsports team back on track and chasing another fast lap.