At Attack Tsukuba 2023, all eyes were on Toshiki Ando as he hit the track in the Escort Racing-built Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. Of course, there are good reasons for this. On January 27th, at an event organized by Zummy, Mr. Ando set a new Tsukuba lap record in his Evo: 49.897.
While he couldn’t repeat the sub-50-second feat when he returned to Tsukuba three weeks later for the Attack event, Ando came very close with a lap time of 50.112.
I’m delighted to see this car in person again and congratulate the Escort Racing team on their amazing achievement and speedy climb through this legendary time attack machine.
Hiroshi Shiobara and his team at Escort have decades of invaluable experience at the pinnacle of Japanese drag racing, building powerful engines that deliver time and time again. When Ando-san hired them to build and develop the Evo, it was a match made in heaven. A dream fueled by the E85 saw them achieve their goal of creating Japan’s fastest time attack car relatively quickly.
Building a car that can run Tsukuba in under 50 seconds obviously took a lot of effort, skill, and money, and you have to get lost in the details to really appreciate it.
Starting with the Voltex aerodynamic package, the way it interacts with the Mitsubishi bodywork below, everything has been carefully designed and planned for overall functionality. Right down to the brakes, which on the business end consist of Endless 6-pot monocoque calipers and RPS split carbon fiber rotors.
There are a lot of clever suspension parts at the rear, and some really interesting air management solutions on the floor to keep the Evo glued to the tarmac quickly. Rear braking is handled by 4-pot Endless calipers, but interestingly, there are no carbon fiber rotors at this end.
The aero package culminates at the rear, where a massive spoiler, rear wing, exhaust and canards come together to create the most aggressive rear view of any car once.
Looking at the centrally exiting exhaust, I began to wonder if the Escort Racing team had figured out a way to use the exhaust to generate downforce!
Then there’s the engine…
With Escort Racing’s zero yang For context, it’s no surprise that the MoTeC-managed Billet Block 2.2L has a drag-spec feel. For track work, though, it features a GCG turbo that not only delivers four-figure power output, but also has ultra-responsive pickups.
Oh yes, and nitrous oxide is pumped into this 4G63’s veins too.
What the team has achieved is impressive, and by breaking through the 49-second zone, Mr. Ando and Escort Racing took the time attack to a new level.
But don’t think for a second that Ando is screwed. His next goal is to break the 49.455-second lap time set by Nobuteru Taniguchi in HKS’ fully slick TRB-03 – but on Yokohama Advan A050 semi-slick tyres. After all, half-skinned racing has been a mainstay of time trials since its inception.
So, for Ando-san and others in the time attack race, the development continues. That’s the essence of motorsport; pushing, testing, failing, and ultimately reaching a goal and, if you’re lucky, setting a record.
I also have a story from Attack Tsukuba 2023 about some of the other heavyweights from the event, so keep an eye out for a story later this week.
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