The unofficial lead-up to Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge 2019 has been nothing short of dramatic.
The biggest story being Under Suzuki, the People’s Champion, having a mechanical issue as he hurtled down the main straight, loosing traction and hitting pit wall.
WTAC Practice-001 On Wednesday the majority of international teams, along with a bunch of local Australian based teams from around the nation, took to the GP circuit in the open pit lane racecar sessions.
WTAC Practice-002 WTAC Practice-003 WTAC Practice-004 WTAC Practice-005WTAC Practice-009First casualty of the day was Haltech Open class contender Stephen Wan in his freshly rebuilt Honda Civic EK9 which saw the front section for the car refitted, after colliding with a wall at turn 1 in last years, and also a turbocharger added to produce 500+hp from the K20 engine.  A fire erupted as the car was coming into the pits; recovery was able to extinguish the fire and driver was not injured, but we’re not sure if the car can be salvaged in time for Stephen to try to claim 1st class honors in the hotly contested class.
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WTAC Practice-010Under Suzuki unfortunately popped his SR20 mid morning, prompting the team to swing into action and replace it with his spare engine; another SR20, built exactly the same.  WTAC Practice-011WTAC Practice-012WTAC Practice-013The team worked extremely hard into the night and managed to have him up and running in the morning to continue vying for the Royal Purple Pro Class title.
WTAC Practice-014WTAC Practice-015Three laps in to the first pro class session, as Under was flying down the main straight, something popped resulting in the car loosing traction, spinning 180 degrees and the driver side colliding with pit wall, destroying the rear quarter panel and rear spoiler before sending him down to the start of turn 1.  The cause of the incident is unclear; rumors are floating around that the rear spoiler failed, or snapped off, but it is more likely that tyre or suspension failure were the cause given the teams data logs.
Under Suzuki was able to climb out of the car, and treated at the scene, but was then airlifted to hospital by helicopter for medical observation.
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He has since been cleared with a 24 hold on any driving, and is in good spirits, exclaiming that was his first time in a helicopter.  The entire team are frantically working on the the fastest time attack car to lap Tsukuba Circuit in the hope to have it drivable again this weekend. Even as Under is reviewing the data and footage, he is keen to jump back in the drivers seat.

With all of that heavy news, I’ll leave you with some of the other sights of a couple of busy pre-WTAC days. If you haven’t yet experienced the madness and thrills of Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge, do yourself a favour and get down there!!! Ian Baker has certainly created one of the best things in the world!!

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