Sierra Sierra Time Attack EVO 8 – 1:43.2 @ Buttonwillow

As you may have heard or read, the Sierra Sierra EVO 8 Time Attack car beat the long standing HKS CT230R's record of 1:43.523 set back in November 2007. The record breaking occured this past weekend at Redline Time Attack's first event of 2010 (and first event under new ownership) at Buttonwillow Raceway using the 13 clockwise track configuration.

(click on the video to view it in HD on YouTube)

I did not get to spend much time walking around and checking out the event itself, but I wasn't there for that. I was there to assist Sierra Sierra, Emp (driver David Empringham), and Christine (the name of the EVO 8) to achieve what we set out to do: destroy records. It will not stop here either. We will attempt to destroy our own record the next time we go out also.

Anyhow, the Redline crew threw an excellent event this weekend. Jackson, CEO of Redline, has many years of professional racing experience and has integrated his experience into the rules, event coordination, and other aspects of the event. Timing was also handled by a state of the art beaconless, transponderless, TAG HEUER RFID based timing system. They had some difficultly on Friday with the timing (and subsequently missed Emp's 1:43.200), but had timing up and running properly by Saturday. If you're into the lifestyle aspect of the car events there was also a car show, spokesmodel pageant/bikini contest, a beer garden, and even a Battle of the Bands contest. It all sounded pretty fun if I was just there to check out the event.

Here a RTA tech staffer uses a go/no go gauge to make sure the COBB Tuning street class entry meets the minimum ride height requirements. RTA techs use gauges to measure splitter protrusion and height and a template to measure maximum wing size in enthusiast, street, or modified class cars. Of course no gauges are used in the unlimited/super modified class. I think this is an excellent idea and it really levels the playing field without dampening too much of the time attack “aura”.

It all started for us on Thursday with testing. For the first time ever, the EVO was pulled off the trailer and it ran flawlessly lap after lap. Richard, Mike, and Jet made subtle suspension changes while I made some changes to the center diff using the Pectel EDC diff computer. We made the change to VP Racing MS109 fuel because leaded fuels are not legal in Australia and we are preparing for the World Time Attack Superlap event in Sydney on May 21. I used this event as a test and tune for MS109 fuel. What about E85? I don't trust the consistency from continent to continent or even from gas station to gas station, but that's another subject for another day. After several test sessions we got the car running 1:43.90 with the wastegate control off. On Friday I turned up the boost and Emp drove the EVO to a 1:43.20. This was verified by my data logs with a Pi GPS beacon and three other people clocking the car with stop watches including the World Racing Scion team. After it happened, all of us in the Sierra team were pretty damn happy. High fives, pounds, and compliments to each other ensued. DAMN, did it feel good! Then one of the RTA guys came to us and said, “Hey guys…uh…we didn't quite get your lap time.” We were a little bummed, but oh well. We knew what we acheived and we all knew we could repeat it. Emp came back in and he knew the car could go considerably faster without too much more drama. No bullshit: Emp can drive and his feedback is awesome (but he keeps asking for more boost!). All of this test and tuning was done on the venerable Hankook C91 DOT tires.

I dig the SSE EVO on TE37s. Check out the DTM influenced rear diffuser. It just needs about 40 gaynards on the rear fenders to complete the look.

Or how about CE28Ns? I think the TE37s are still better looking.

Then on Friday afternoon, Christine started acting up like the evil bitch she can be sometimes. We were experiencing a cooling problem that did not allow us to even complete a single hot lap. We diagnosed everything and ended up pulling the head only to discover that the gasket had been hurt slightly. MS109 is a good unleaded fuel, but it isn't that good. While I consider myself a pretty damn good engine tuner, I am not god. So after the head goes back on the car, we go out for a test and it's the same story. To be honest, we never really quite figured the problem out which was why the best Emp could muster was a 1:44.34 in the very last time attack session. It was good enough to take the 4WD Super Modified/Unlimited class and overall win. The car has never really behaved like this before, but Christine will always mess with you one way or another. She's definitely high maintenance.

So while 1:43.20 was our fastest time, RTA did not record it. They recorded a fastest lap of 1:43.43 during a practice session. During a time attack session, the fastest lap we ran was a 1:44.34. Which one counts? I'd say the 1:43.34 would be the official record breaker despite the fact that Emp actually ran a 1:43.20. No sweat, we'll go even faster next time. Like I said in a previous post: it is a personal wish of mine's that the SSE EVO 8 will go 1:40.xx. It's not a Babe Ruth point the bat at where the ball's going to go kind of proclamation. It's just a wish.

So for all you haters, here are some of my thoughts on the whole SSE time attack program, beating the HKS record, and stuff in general. For those of you who simply question, please read below for full explanations. For those of your who are already down with SSE and me, enjoy reading below while I smoke the haters. If you don't hate, then there's no need to take offense. “HATERPOINT” will be haterade from haters and FFF. “COUNTERPOINT” are my thoughts to make haters think before spewing more foolishness from mouths or fingers.

HATERPOINT #1:The HKS CT230R came over from Japan barely prepped and had no practice or setup time at Buttonwillow. Taniguchi has very little experience at Buttonwillow. Blah, blah, blah.

COUNTERPOINT #1: Do you really think for a single moment that a team is going to bring a car all the way over from another country and not prepare the car at all? The Japanese are meticulous people and they WILL prepare. HKS rented Buttonwillow for a couple days before Superlap to test and tune. On top of that, Taniguchi is a fast driver (and fast drinker of whiskey and shochu to boot). Do you think HKS got to where they are today by NOT preparing for situations like Superlap? While it is true that HKS did not go balls out in changing the car's setup for the US Superlap, it is very untrue that the “car was still setup for Tsukuba so they just rolled it out of the trailer and busted a 1:43.527, packed their bags and went home”. Dickheads: even in Japan the CT230R traveled around Japan to set records at tracks across the country. It did not ONLY run at Tsukuba. In my days at Apexi, whenever we brought over a car from Japan like the BCNR33 V-Max drag car or the Drag Integra, we started planning 6-7 months before. I had to generate a schedule, make arrangements, accomodations, transportation, track rental for testing, etc. while the car and race team were here in the US. The cars would come in a 40' container with the car occupying 15 feet and the rest of the container would be stacked to the roof with spare parts. I would have to order slicks (Goodyears are made in the USA), race fuel (Sunoco is also made in the USA), lubricants, supplies, etc. months ahead because my Japanese bosses were so anal about being properly prepared. Why did they need to be so prepared? Because they came to beat records. Not to see what would happen if they tried running their car on an American track. The Apexi V-Max was the fastest full body drag GT-R in the world for 3 years afterwards. Sounds just like the HKS CT230R doesn't it? See the next point.

HATERPOINT #2: Haha, it's about time that Sierra Sierra beat the record with that giant budget they have! HKS has only had the record for 3 years!

COUNTERPOINT #2: It hasn't been 3 years fool, do the math (Nov 2007 to March 2010). The HKS CT230R started life as an EVO 8 and was built in 2006 if I remember correctly. But let's not forget about the original HKS TRB-02 Carbon EVO that was built in early 2002. Taniguchi put the TRB-02 into a wall and totalled it due to a brake malfunction. HKS then took what they learned from the TRB-02 and built the new and improved CT230R. HKS and Taniguchi set the US time attack record in 2007. This means that HKS had been developing a time attack EVO for 5 years up to when the record was set in 2007. How long has Sierra Sierra been running their EVO 8? The first event they competed in was May 2009. We smoked the record in March 2010. It has been 10 months. Yeah, you bet your ass we're going to go faster. On top of this, the Japanese have been “time attacking” for 15 years. We Americans barely started in 2005. And as for the budget what makes you think that a publicly owned company with $90M in sales per year isn't going to spend a small percentage of that on a race car? The rumors of HKS having spent over $2.1M on the time attack EVOs are well true and probably a fraction of what they spent in total. If you were to count the overtime the race team probably spent on the car you can double that figure. It's a good thing for HKS they don't pay overtime in Japan. Fortunately for Sierra Sierra, their trailers, tools, and much of their equipment carried over from their Formula Atlantic team. Just like I'm sure HKS Racing's trailers, tools, and much of their equipment was carried over from one of their many past race cars (old 7M drag Supra, 2J drag Supra, Benz JGTC car, N1 GT-Rs, drag GT-Rs, multitude of N1/Super Taikyu race cars, etc.). In summary, I assure you that HKS has spent FAR MORE money in their EVO time attack program than Sierra Sierra has. Do the simple math: HKS has built at least two super high end time attack EVOs (that we know of). Sierra Sierra is still the smaller company when comparing to HKS.

HATERPOINT #3: The HKS EVO was on A-048s and the Sierra Sierra EVO beat the records on slicks. That's not even close to fair.

COUNTERPOINT #3:  Boo fucking hoo. HKS' A-048s were hardly off the shelf. The GG compound A-048s that Advan produced for HKS were NOT available to the public. They are not not DOT legal (or Japan's equivalent of DOT legal) either. The SSE EVO beat the record on a DOT legal tire. Sure, it only has two grooves down the middle, but it is legal for use on a public road which means it has a street tire casing with steel and/or Kevlar belts, and is hard and thick enough to resist objects found on public roads that can cause punctures. Anybody can go to a Hankook dealer like City Tire or Dynamic Autosports in Southern California and buy a set of C91 tires right over the counter with no questions asked. Try asking Yokohama for a set of GG compound A-048's and they will laugh in your face if the guy you are talking to even knows what the hell a GG Compound is.

HATERPOINT #4: The HKS EVO only makes 450hp. If the SSE EVO is making 500-600hp why is it that it can barely beat the HKS EVO's time?

COUNTERPOINT #4: The reason why is weight. The HKS EVO weighs a measly 1080kg or 2380lb. It really does help if you have a couple hundred grand for molds and plugs so that you can have some pre-preg dry carbon fenders, doors, hood, trunk, etc. fabricated with an autoclave. The HKS EVO had a more thorough diet plan and it is not built to any specific safety specification (I think). You can see the tubes are very small in diameter and are probably fairly thin walled also. The Sierra Sierra EVO weighs 1260kg or 2777lb and is built to FIA spec. If it were homologated, it could probably enter a FIA GT2 race based on safety standards alone. Sure the SSE EVO is overbuilt, but that's only because Richard, the team manager, has seen far too many crashed race cars to be wiling to risk anybody's life for only a quick lap time. Also, the doors, fenders, and bumpers on Christine are wet lay up carbon pieces. They certainly are not as light as the HKS pieces.

HATERPOINT #5: With the amount of resources that Sierra Sierra has, I'd be surprised if they couldn't hit 1:43 by now…

COUNTERPOINT #5: This haterpoint sort of overlaps with #2, but it really does need to be broken down a bit further. The reality is that knowlege is one thing and money is another. Just because a team can run an open wheel formula car, it does not mean that this same team can build a unibody race car and have overnight sucess. Case in point: you have built the fastest S2000, STi, EVO, etc. in the country. Then by some miracle Frank Williams says, “Mate, I'll give you an F1 car and $5M. You need to qualify in a F1 race by the end of the year.” Do you think your Honda building ass has even the remotest fucking clue how to build, maintain, tune, and run an F1 car?!?!? Before you answer that question think about how much you know about rotary dampers, push rod suspension, TAG ECUs and datalogging. Have you seen an F1 steering wheel? I will bet the amount in your entire bank account that you cannot even figure out how to START an F1 car. Well the reverse is also true. For a team that has has only open wheel experience, what do they know about a turbo system, big ass heavy cars on skinny ass tires (relative to open wheel cars), a center of gravity nearly 12″ higher, custom everything (fuel systems, suspension, oil systems, etc.), engine in the front, a transfer case, 3 differentials, 4 axles, and an H-pattern transmission? Sure they can figure it out, but there is a very intense learning curve. I have been able to share my production car experience with SSE, but a 100% pure custom race car always has teething problems. I am proud of the fact that SSE has been able to get the car to where it is today in 10 months time with a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and of course, money. Haterpoint #5 would only be brought up by rank amateurs who have never truly built a car from the ground up. And if you have, it probably sucked ass.

That's about it. If I think of more haterpoints to counter, I will add them later. Or add a comment below if you have another haterpoint and I will counter.

FOR THE RECORD: I am not dissing the HKS CT230R whatsoever. If you haters or FFF have read that from my words above using your amazing powers of forum type mis-reading and word twisting, you can fuck off now. My intention was never to dis HKS and in fact, I have nothing but respect for HKS. I grew up using many of their parts and still use them today in many of my personal cars. I AM NOT saying that the Sierra Sierra EVO 8 is better than the HKS CT230R either. They are different cars built in different countries for a different set of rules. While they are both EVOs, the similarities end there.

WHAT I AM SAYING: give respect where respect is due. Sierra Sierra's EVO 8 is the first car in the USA to beat the HKS CT230R record. End of story.

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