Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge 2023

The 2023 World Time Attack Challenge saw the quickest tintops in the world descend on Sydney Motorsport Park


Since 2010, the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge has brought fans of several niche Japanese motorsports together, to the point that these days the Sydney-based event draws entries from Europe, North America and Japan.

But there is a lot more to this two-day party than just who can get the quickest lap time. For example, at the 2023 event, held over the first weekend of September at Sydney Motorsport Park, a bunch of the world’s best drift and demo cars also come to party, and there were speed comparisons, roll racing, burnouts, a stunt plane and a tank!

This year, five international Time Attack teams crossed the oceans to challenge Australia’s best. The Emtron Pro class is where the big dogs play at WTAC, and both they and the hard-chargers in Plazmaman Pro Am were allowed to use slicks for the first time this year as a safety precaution. These cars feature aero bodywork designed by Formula One scientists, and the downforce loads have become too great for everything except all-out race tyres.

From the first Pro session on Friday, the benefits of the new tyres were clear, as three-time WTAC winner Barton Mawer wheeled the wild RP968 Porsche 968 around the 3.9km Gardner Circuit in just 1:18.8, shattering his 2019 lap record of 1:19.2. The new PB made the tin-top Porsche the quickest car to officially lap the Sydney Motorsport Park track!

However, more was to come on Saturday. After the team rebuilt a CV shaft they broke on Friday afternoon, the billet 4.0-litre, four-cylinder-powered Porsche came straight out in the first Pro stint of the day and ran 1:17.8! This ended up being enough to lock in both the class and Outright wins for Barton, which was lucky, as he shattered his heel jumping off the car’s roof while celebrating his time!

This year, five international Time Attack teams crossed the oceans to challenge Australia’s best

Coming in second in Pro class was Supercars driver Tim Slade, who piloted a crazy S13 Nissan Silvia called Tanuki to the tune of 1:20.4. Tanuki is actually the two-time outright winner formerly known as MCA Hammerhead, but it’s been heavily rebuilt, now featuring an all-new aero package and an 1100hp twin-turbo V6 from a Nissan R35 GT-R.

Sladey may have missed the big prize, but he was also entered in the GCG Open class in the Xtreme R32 GT-R. He wheeled the crazy R32 to a 1:25.9 to win the class and hold off 2022 class winner Nathan Morcom in the GAS Mitsubishi Evo, who pulled a 1.27.3 after an all-night engine replacement on the Friday.

Feras Qartoumy brought his record-busting Corvette to WTAC, one of three teams to bring cars from America. Feras came to WTAC as a total newbie but stamped his authority on the Plazmaman Pro Am class with a 1:27.01, making the Texan the first American to win a class at the Aussie event.

He was chased hard into the final day of the event by Aussie Wayne Lee’s 1:27.54 in the Tanuki S13, before broken suspension ruled the lightning-fast Nissan out. This allowed Richard Perini to blast into second in class, with his VR38 V6-powered Ginetta G55 running a 1:27.52.

While these times and performances are epic, they’re only part of the show. Event CEO Ian Baker works hard to put on an event that will entertain all motorsport fans, and this year he and the WTAC team really went for it. There was Red Bull Air Racing champion Matt Hall landing his plane on the Sydney Motorsport Park front straight on Saturday, plus drift demos and roll racing on the same space. Ian even organised Mark Trueno to bring his Alvis Saracen armoured personnel carrier along, which he then had the Exedy Drift Team skid around.

American professional drifter and car personality Ryan Tuerck brought his epic Mk5 Toyota Supra over for WTAC, and he partied hard. With its custom carbonfibre widebody and F1-inspired 4.0-litre Judd GV4 V10, the car was ineligible for Time Attack competition, but it pulled some hard laps in the 1:32 bracket and was the best-sounding car of the event, with the 750hp V10 screaming to 11,000rpm down the Brabham Straight.

The Shannons StylizeD invitational car show took over the skidpan, featuring a stack of awesome Japanese, European and Aussie show cars of a bunch of different styles. There were still more killer cars on display in the trader section behind the pits, while 60 years of Lamborghini supercars were celebrated on the dummy grid.

The Turbosmart Flying 500 saw a change for 2023 to a roll racing format. After Tony Tziolis’s twin-turbo Lamborghini Huracan rounded up most of the field, a mid-run pedal cost him the win against Anthony Maatouk’s R32 GT-R Skyline.

Packing all this action into just two days made it a marathon Friday and Saturday at the track this year, but you can bet we’ll be back for more in 2024. After all, even if Japanese rides aren’t your scene, the engineering in the cars, party atmosphere and variety of sideshows on offer make the World Time Attack Challenge one of the best car events in the Harbour City!


A big part of WTAC’s festival vibe has been the inclusion of the iconic Japanese sport of drifting. The 2023 International Drifting Cup, presented by Garrett Advancing Motion, saw 24 of the world’s best drifters come to Sydney to throw down on a high-speed course that made use of the fast, flowing back end of the Sydney Motorsport Park circuit.

Big names included Kiwis ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett in his ear-splitting, peripheral-port 20B triple-rotor-powered RADBUL MX-5, and Gaz Whiter in an 800hp, Harrop-blown, LS3-powered Nissan Silvia. Legendary US drifter Ken Gushi had his 1000hp Kazama Auto Lexus RC Coupe bushfiring the treads hard thanks to the 1000hp Nissan VR38 V6, while Daigo Saito smoked out the whole hill in his 1100hp, 3.4L 2JZ-powered Toyota 86.

The high-speed battles provided plenty of thrills, like when Rob Whyte’s NASCAR-powered 350Z made Mad Mike’s MX-5 completely disappear in smoke, at speed. Thankfully there were only a few touches between cars, despite part of the challenge of drift battles being to maintain the closest proximity possible to the car in front.

Despite the best efforts of the global superstars, the final battle came down to a couple of Aussies. Luke Veersma and Matt Harvey drove their S13 Silvias right on the edge for a very tight, high-speed and smoke-cloaked battle, which saw 21-year-old Luke prevail.


Feras Qartoumy’s C6 Corvette Z06 is one of America’s top Time Attack cars, and he’s shattered a bunch of lap records all over his home country, from Circuit of the Americas to Road Atlanta and more. His 1200hp, 427ci LSX-powered Corvette is no slouch, thanks in part to twin Garrett G35 turbos, Penske suspension and a full carbon/Kevlar body by Verus Engineering.

Still, Feras had plenty of challenges facing him for his first taste of Sydney Motorsport Park. “We don’t have anything like Turn 1 at home, and if you ruin Turn 1, you ruin the lap,” Feras said. “So I ruin that every single time. The difference is that the corners [at Sydney Motorsport Park] are a little bit slower but very long. It is a smaller track, but very technical – everything here is really late; it requires patience, and I don’t have a lot of that!”

On top of jetlag and the challenge of learning a new track, Feras also had to overcome a bunch of mechanical issues, starting with the front pulling away. This required welding, and while the team sorted that on Friday, they soon discovered a shattered second gear in the six-speed PPG sequential transaxle.

They were able to find a replacement part locally and get it sorted in time to make the first session on Saturday, before both end tanks burst off the air-to-air intercooler and the Plazmaman TIG welder was once again called upon. Thankfully, they got it fixed, and the car ran strongly in the Saturday-evening shootout.


1.Levi Clarke brought his ‘324driftrod’ along to put on drift demos for the crowd. It’s a fibreglass ’32 pick-up sitting on Datsun 620 frame rails, with a Toyota Soarer front end, Nissan R33 rear end, and a 600hp tunnel-rammed LS3 built by Mitch Pullen.

2. At its core, Time Attack is the search for the perfect track lap. It originated in Japan as a way of seeing which tuner built the quickest car by getting them to do a flying lap time at a circuit on a road-legal tyre. However, the top cars today are way past being bolt-on bandits.

3. Johnny Habib’s LH Torana ran hard in the Turbosmart Flying 500. With a 598ci Chev for power, it’s gone 8.08@170mph and reportedly makes 1400hp on the gas. Johnny struggled with traction on the unprepped surface against the all-paw cars at WTAC.

4. Heath van der Waerden drove his Torana (SM, Sep ’23) up from Melbourne for the WTAC show ’n’ shine on Saturday, blowing minds with the details he’s packed into the car.

5. Trent Grubel in the DC Jap Automotive Subaru reset the Haltech Clubsprint class record twice on his way to taking out the class. Trent’s 1:33.4 beat Jamal ‘Jimmy’ Asaad’s 2022 record by three-tenths, before the former pushed his WRX to a 1:32.9 on Saturday.

6. Luke Hando from Tic Toc Racing wheeled his Barra-powered XR6 Turbo ute around Sydney Motorsport Park in 1:43.0 – the only domestic ride in the Plazmaman Pro Am class.

7. One WTAC staple is the Saturday pit walk. Competitor cars are rolled into the pit lane, which is then opened up as a pedestrian mall so spectators can see the machinery up close. It’s a great initiative and a rare opportunity, as most circuit racing disciplines don’t allow this type of access.

8. Former Drag Challenge competitor Mitch Pullen put on a show with his crazy S13 Nissan Silvia. It sports a blown LS3 with a 9000rpm redline, and 180-degree headers that wrap around the front of the engine and exit through the bonnet.

9. Drew Hall’s Croydon Racing Developments-prepared R34 GT-R Skyline was in the hunt in Pro Am with a 1:27.573. Unfortunately, a cam sensor issue knocked him out of the shootout, and he had to settle for fourth.

10. One of the coolest rides on display at WTAC was Jay Duca’s slammed, rear-drive Nissan Prairie. The South Australian madman has set it up 30mm off the deck, and it’s powered by an aspirated 3.2L stroker 2JZ-GE breathing through individual throttlebodies for bulk skids.

11. Matt Plowman’s evil-looking Pro Am Lotus was one of several cars running a turbo Honda K-series four-cylinder making four-digit power. The 10-year build was at its first WTAC, sporting wild Andrew Brilliant-designed aero, a Garrett G35 turbo, MoTeC ECU, Holinger sequential gearbox and Advan Racing wheels.

12. The LYFE Motorsport R35 GT-R of Cole Powelson turned in a 1:25.945 to come third in the Pro class, having bounced back from a broken transmission on Thursday. The US crew had twice the workload, as Donut Media’s Jerry Burton also ran the coupe in the Plazmaman Pro Am class.

13. Harrop doesn’t just make blowers for V8s. The company’s Toyota 86 was running strongly in Haltech Clubsprint, with Ben Schoots wheeling it to a 1:35.7 to sit eighth in class.

14. Greg Kerba’s VF SS-V work ute ran an impressive 1:40.4 in Haltech Clubsprint using a stroked, aspirated LS3 built by Warspeed Industries. Greg runs Sydney Composites, which supplies a lot of WTAC entrants with their carbonfibre aero parts.

15. Japanese Time Attack legend Yusaku Shibata from ARVOU Racing Garage had his work cut out for him in the Pro class, given that his Honda S2000 only sports 450hp from its supercharged four-cylinder. He managed an impressive 1:29.5 at his first visit to WTAC.

16. Catherine ‘Driftcat’ Hewitson’s VK-fronted VL Calais drifter was sitting pride of place on the Motul stand. The VL uses a Dodge NASCAR mill and the full Haltech to give it monster speed for slideways action, and we’re keen to see the recently finished car blazing soon!

17. Mike Burroughs brought his Ferrari 308 over from America to run in GCG Open class. With a 1000hp turbo Honda K-series four-banger it ran a best of 1:43.15 at his first crack at World Time Attack Challenge and Sydney Motorsport Park, not bad!