It's that time of the year once again as Import Tuner held its annual FR Shootout. Similar to last year's event, FR-based (front engine, rear-wheel drive) chassis vehicles ranging from the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, to older models like the Nissan Z, Honda S2000, and Mazda RX-7 (pre '90s) were invited to compete at Willow Springs International Raceway's Streets of Willow course using Continental Extreme Contact DW tires as the equalizer for all cars.
What was scheduled to exhibit a total of 19 cars, which included a supercharged Mazda Miata, 2JZ-powered Nissan S14, and a few other heavy hitters, whittled away to a final number of 15 cars on race day due to a series of vehicle problems. Regardless of what issues arose, the quality of cars at this year's event was once again top notch and displayed just how street cars can be competitive both on and off the track.
Last year we witnessed the Church Automotive S2000 pull off a dominant win in the Forced Induction class with a best lap time of 1:25.707, while the EVS S2000 Street Version piloted by Rob Walker stormed the track with a best time of 1:26.918 in a nearly stock F22 engine to take top honors in the NA class. We brought back their two competitors to this year's event to defend their title and see if teams like Innovate Motorsports in their supercharged FR-S or Sport Car Motion with their custom 330hp S2000 had what it took to claim the title.
The day started at 7:30 a.m. with a mandatory tech inspection before the cars were allowed to roll onto the track. A 30-minute practice session was immediately followed by a time-attack, with 15 cars leading the way. Drivers knew that they would need to achieve their best times within the early morning sessions; the hot summer heat would quickly kill horsepower, brakes, and tire grip as the day progressed.
The Church Automotive Testing S2000 remained among the top contenders coming into this event. Early morning practice runs looked promising for the car as former '05 Rolex Series GT Champion Craig Stanton piloted the 490-plus horsepower S2000 around the course for its first hot lap. The supercharged machine fired off a 1:24.7110 lap time; nearly a few clicks faster than Second Place, an amazing feat considering the stock soft-top and OEM exhaust were still in place. The Innovate Motorsports supercharged Scion FR-S recorded the second fastest lap time with a 1:25.461 with Jeff Westphal, 2013 Scuderia Ferrari Grand Am champion.
Check out further coverage of each FR competitor: FR Shootout Driver Profiles
Among the NA class competitors, the EVS S2000 stopped the clock with a time of 1:25.681 with vehicle owner and Rob Walker pushing his NA-powered AP2 to within seconds of his forced-induction competitors and less than a second away from Third Place Science of Speed-supercharged Sport Car Motion S2000. Walker was surprisingly absent during the third track session as we found him sitting comfortable under the Evasive Motorsports E-Z Up when we asked if he had engine problems. He smiled and replied that track conditions were quickly deteriorating and felt he had pulled together the best times he could muster for the day and was willing to sit back and monitor his competitors' times to see if anyone came within striking distance. Now how's that for confidence?
As the day progressed, the battle continued to heat up as the Innovate FR-S was in a tight battle with the Sportcar Motion S2000. Each team would trade positions throughout all four track sessions. The team at Group-A Motorsports took the opportunity to showcase their supercharged Kraftwerks Subaru BRZ driven by former 2011 Grand Am ace Nico Rondet and shake out any loose ends. Go Tuning Unlimited campaigned with a '02 AP1 S2000 with the help of 2011 Formula D champion Daijiro Yoshihara behind the wheel. What many might not know about Yoshihara is that he is also an experienced grip driver with many hours behind numerous race cars. Another drifter driver Charlie Ongsingco brought out his Just Drift x Megan Racing S14 that's typically used for drifting, but this time around kept his SR20-powered machine planted to the tarmac—during the earlier sessions at least.
This years event unfolded like never before with more twists and turns that, at the end, no one could have predicted, thanks to a Nissan S13 that was thought to have been a "no show" for the event. Prior to the big race event, the Will Wattanawongkiri Racing team blew their motor at a weekend track event. Mere days before competition, the crew quickly went into action and replaced the engine the night before. With little to no word on the team's progress, many wondered if the team would complete the repairs and make the event. By late afternoon with only one scheduled run group left, we received a text by vehicle owner Will that they were on their way. With the team pulling up at 3 p.m. and only one track session remaining, the team quickly unloaded the vehicle with enough time to make three timed laps. We stood idly by the timing tower as we caught word that the Church Automotive team's fastest lap time of 1:24.733 was in jeopardy. The first lap for the S13 was a mere 2 seconds off the Church's, then it was reduced to half a second by lap two. By the time the third and final lap rolled around, we were informed that the S13 had pulled a time of 1:23.592 seconds. A difference of 1.141 seconds was enough to take the unexpected win and claim the title for this year's FR Forced Induction class.
Do you own an FR car and think you have what it takes to take home the top prize at this year's shootout? Submit your vehicle photo along with your vehicle specs and driving acclimates to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Tuner FR Shootout" in the subject line, or post it on our Facebook page no later than June 1. We'll be waiting for you!
Why Use Continental?
If your goal is to go fast on the track, tires are one of the most important, yet most overlooked aspects of car tuning. The ExtremeContact DW is designed with "chamfered edge" technology for dry performance and a high void-to-tread ratio, which improves water evacuation for outstanding wet handling. The dry road surface technology generates greater acceleration grip, handling, and braking traction in dry conditions using solid outer shoulder and chamfered pattern edges, which enable maximum surface contact for maximum traction. Worried about your tire's performance? Continental is thinking one step ahead of the competition by implementing treadwear indicators on all tires. The consumer-friendly indicators alert drivers about tire's performance level in dry and wet conditions. When indicators disappear, tire is no longer tuned for optimum performance in that particular road condition. The ExtremeContact DW is available in a wide range of sizes/series from 16 to 21 inches to fulfill your street/weekend race vehicle's needs.