If anything, the 2018 running of Super Lap Battle was certainly one to remember. While everyone wants to talk about the Tesla disqualification, the bigger news was Can-Jam Motorsports and Richard Boake taking the Unlimited AWD record from Jeff Westphal and GST Motorsports - one that stood for four years.
As always, Super Lap Battle (SLB) is the final round of the Global Time Attack (GTA) Pro season. This year, however, consisted of three rounds: Road Atlanta, New Jersey Motorsports Park (new for this year), and Buttonwillow Raceway Park. SLB is "the big one," though, as its history reaches back to 2004. This event was the US' version of the Hyper Rev Super Battle and in those early years teams from Japan made their way over to break records on Buttonwillow's Clockwise 13 configuration. Today, we don't see the big teams from Japan, but the brands have come back thanks to American distributors for Spoon Sports, HKS, and many others.
THE TESLA CONTROVERSY
Let's get this out of the way first because "Teslagate" really isn't what it's blown up to be. Mountainpass Performance brought out a Model 3 with the recently launched "Track Mode" and used SLB as a test event for it. The car, driven by Cameron Rodgers, is modified with a better suspension, a prototype stability control defeat device, 255mm Michelin PS4S tires on 18x9.5 wheels, and a datalogger from MoTec. Other than that, it was a stock Model 3.
For what it was, the Model 3 did very well in the class it was entered in, Enthusiast AWD, setting a best recorded time of 2:00.078. First time with the car with new parts and a new, more powerful, and untested mode - that's good. It would have been enough for second place for Enthusiasts AWD class. However, it was disqualified due to a competitor saying it wasn't legal per rule B. 2: "Only unleaded gasoline or Diesel may be used as fuel. No Ethanol, E-85, leaded, methanol or exotic fuels allowed as the primary fuel. Water/Methanol injection is allowed in a maximum of 50 percent methanol mix" and B. 7: "Hybrid drive is allowed only in full OEM form with no modifications to the drive, control or battery systems."
Mountainpass Performance and Cameron knew this, but how it's being presented isn't how we saw it go down. When it was announced, we approached Jason Dienhart, owner of GTA, about the DQ. He told us that the rule was brought up much earlier that day and was discussed through the event with Cameron. Per B. 2 and B. 7, the car was ultimately ruled illegal and was announced to him before the event was over and well before the podium. The podium "DQ" was discussed between GTA and Cameron as a tongue-in-cheek joke about "the future." The driver knew approaching the podium that he would not receive second place. So, the big hullabaloo about being DQ'd during his celebration is not true.
However, it should be stated that there should have been a place for this car to run at SLB. Technically, there was in Unlimited AWD, but that's akin to asking you to run against Olympic runners in the 100-meter dash. While everyone cries foul in the EV world, this is more of a good thing. GTA now must create a rule or class for the Model 3 and other EVs of similar performance or better. These guys aren't afraid of the future, which is why they even allowed the Tesla to run in the event. It just wasn't fully expected that someone would protest it due to it not using fuel and receiving an over-the-air update for Track Mode.
With that out of the way, let's get to the real story. The one everyone should be talking about. The broken record for GTA's Unlimited AWD category. Once again, it was taken by a Canadian with Richard Boake in the Can-Jam Motorsports Prestone Subaru WRX STI. We don't know what it is about those Canucks, but they know how to throw down some speed. Will Au-Yeung with his Civic putting down a 1:37.308 for Unlimited FWD earlier this year at a GTA Pro-Am, and Chris Boersma setting two FWD records in Limited (2017) and Street (2015). Now, Richard joins them in resetting the record book with his name with his 1:38.281 for Unlimited AWD, a record that stood since 2014 with Jeff Westphal in the GST Motorsports Subaru L.
He wasn't the only one, either. Anthony Cuthbert took home a new record for Enthusiast FWD in the Baby Ferrari Racing/Whiteline 2017 Honda Civic Type-R. His 1:59.475 is now the fastest Enthusiast FWD on record, which was set five years ago by Pradana Willanto in the Evasive Motorsports/CSM Acura CSX. That's two long time records shattered for CW13 for GTA and SLB.
SLB is more than just a single event, it's also the conclusion of the 2018 season for GTA. These drivers aren't just gunning for class wins for the event, but championships as well. Finishing well here could mean taking home an even bigger prize that just an event win. However, to take that championship, drivers would have had to finish and score points in at least two events. Few drivers were able to pull that off this year in Unlimited, but Boyd Auto Racing, Will Au-Yeung, and Savanna Little all ran at least two events with Savanna scoring points in all three Pro events. Elliot Skeer also finished all three Pro events in 2018 in the SP Motorsports/Savvy LLC Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car in the Pro/Comp Class. Joining him in Limited RWD was teammate Adam Knapik in the SP/Savvy Porsche 911 GT3.
The heaviest contested class in all three rounds was the Street AWD category with Markos Mylonas and Sally McNulty competing in all three Pro rounds. Chris Bickford and Angel Roman would score points in two Pro rounds in 2018. The surprisingly and appropriately named Enthusiast Class in the FWD category also had more than two drivers make at least two Pro rounds. Anthony Cuthbert ran all three rounds while Jamil Fields and Efrain Flores ran two.
A SUPER FINAL
SLB is a competition round, so drivers were going for that last bit of glory before 2019 starts up. So, let's start with Enthusiast Class and work our way up to Unlimited.
Mike Kang in the GReddy/CounterSpace Garage Subaru BRZ took home first place with a 1:56.203. Despite a moment in Cotton Corners, Chris Reber in the Rabbit Out of the Hat/Whiteline Ford Mustang GT took second with a 1:58.377. Justin Taylor in the Rockstar Garage S2000 took third with a 1:58.484.
Travis Barnes came out to run with the Snail Performance Subaru STI Type RA with class winning time of 1:59.188. Mauricio Calderon in the Oloi/Massimo Power Mitsubishi Lancer EVO finished behind him with a 2:03.822. Chris Hain in the Hain Racing Subaru Impreza WRX came in third with a 2:04.624.
Anthony Cuthbert set a record and took home the class win in his Honda Civic Type R while Nick Bright finished with a 2:04.303 in his Honda Accord Euro R. They were the only two in their class for 2018.
With 17 cars competing, this was a packed class with less than a second separating second to fourth places. However, it was Dustin Dessero in the Rockstar Garage Honda S2000 (AP1) taking home the win with a 1:50.478. Sonny Watanasirisuk in the 949 Racing Ford Mustang GT350R took second with a 1:52.182, followed closely by another Rockstar Garage S2000 driven by Chris Elders. Chris turned in a time of 1:52.703.
Street AWD was all Subaru, but surprisingly, Markos Mylonas was not the fastest. That honor went to Johnny Hernandez in the Lido Labs Subaru Impreza STI with a 1:49.237. Markos, though, wasn't far behind with his 1:49.563 in the Snail Performance/IAG Performance WRX. Sally McNulty finished third in her Snail/IAG/Hoonigan WRX STI with a 1:53.498.
This was a Honda heavy class with only Jack Thomas/Efrain Flores in the R1 Concepts/Rally Innovations Ford Focus ST breaking the trend. However, the top three were all brand new Civic Type-Rs with the Evaisve/Titan7/Remark car driven by Steven Kronemberger taking first with a 1:54.829. Robert Walker in the Evasive Type-R finished second with a 1:55.726 and Chinchi Chian/Jason Owens finishing third in the United Speed Racing Type-R with a 1:56.802.
Limited RWD saw Ryan Passey take first in his Goodwin Racing Mazda Miata LFX with a 1:46.857. Amir Bentatou took second in the LS-swapped Motorsport Hardware BMW E36 M3 with a 1:47.277. Adam Knapik rounded off the podium with a 1:48.867 in the SP Motorsports/Savvy Porsche 911 GT3.
In Limited AWD, a familiar face came back to GTA and SLB with JC Meynet taking home the win in class. His Subaru Impreza STI finished first with a 1:47.604 while Cody Miles in the Air Lift Performance WRX STI finished second with a 1:47.836. Steven Chan took third in the RD Engineering/PIT Nissan GTR with a 1:48.210.
While a Scion tC and a Nissan Juke SV broke the Honda party, the make did take home all three spots on the podium. Michael Change/Tim Kuo in the Evasive Motorsports Honda Civic Type-R would take the top spot with a 1:56.447 while Cory Wells/Will Drees took the WRD Racing Honda Prelude SH to second with a 1:57.741. Dai Yoshihara/Mike Chang would take the Team Dai/KW Suspension Acura Integra Type-R to third with a 2:02.490.
Elliot Skeer would take the class win in Pro/Comp with his SP Motorsports/Savvy LLC Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car with a 1:41.546. Roger Hocking in the Rabbit Out of the Hat Racing GP Roadster GP-GTR would take second with a 2:05.930. They were the only two drivers in this class.
If you wanted a fast, RWD car, it looks like you need either a Honda S2000 or a Mazda Miata. Emilio Cervantes brought home the win for the roadster fans in the Supermiata Mazda Miata with a 1:44.841. The Powermeedy Motorsports Honda S2000 driven by Rhett Panter brought home second for the S2Ks with his 1:47.405. Not to be out done, the Euros were represented by Jason Sharek in the J63 Racing Mercedes C63 AMG turning in a time of 1:50.773 to finish out the podium.
This year, Will Au-Yeung nor Chris Boersma were out to play in Unlimited FWD. However, Alex Peng in the Novak Racing Momofoolio Racing Honda Civic EK9 would take home the victory for the class with a 1:51.435. Long time Honda racer, Edo Stepanyan, came back from a back injury to take the EdoMotosports Honda CRX to second place with a 1:58.273. These guys were the only two representing the Unlimited FWD category at SLB.
Finally, we get to the big one. Setting a new class record, taking the overall fastest time, and winning Unlimited AWD, Richard Boake in the Can-Jam/Prestone Subaru WRX STI clocked in a 1:38.281. Very closely behind him was Tom O'Gorman in the Professional Awesome Racing/Fortune Auto Mitsubishi Evolution VIII, turning in a time of 1:38.454. Not much further behind to round out the podium was Andy Smedegard in the RS Motors Mitsubishi Evolution IX with a 1:40.512.
NOW THAT IT'S OVER, WHAT'S NEXT?
Despite the Tesla issue, this event was a great one to watch for old records that finally got broken. The livestream with announcer "Cuban" Rodriguez calling the action on track along with Matt Farah of The Smoking Tire doing pit lane commentary was an awesome addition to this legendary event. If they keep this up, time attack in the US might just hit the same levels as the World Time Attack Series in Australia. There are rumors that a new event is coming to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX next year. Will this push SLB to become something bigger? We'll have to find out, but it looks promising. Meantime let's celebrate the records reset by Richard Boake and Anthony Cuthbert in their classes. Those are the real stories we should all be talking about.