After the retirement of the Sierra Sierra team following the 2011 WTAC it was largely assumed that we would not see a competitor from the land of Uncle Sam in 2012. And that would have probably been the case except for one thing – Eric Hsu!
For those of you who have been living under a rock, Eric Hsu was the guy responsible for the engine and tuning on the Sierra Sierra team and we can tell you that you will go a long way before you will find a more diehard time attack junkie than Eric (except perhaps us!).
So with the reality of SSE being dead in the water Eric was left with two options to come to Australia in 2012. 1, come and work as a scrutineer for WTAC (we called this plan B) or find a suitable car that could possibly bring the big trophy back to the USA in August.
So Eric walked out into his garage and stared long and hard at his old XS engineering GTR that was still sitting in the garage. This car has long history in the US and much of the original build was featured on a reality TV show. The car then went on to win the one of the very first Redline Time Attack rounds at Fontana Speedway on March 5 2006 with none other than the legendary Tarzan Yamada behind the wheel.
To continue the story further we need to wind the clock back even more and tell you that before Eric was at XS engineering he was the senior engineer for world famous tuning brand APEXi and in fact was responsible for bringing this brand to the USA. Back then the Australian distributor for APEXi was a fellow by the name of Andy Chen who now owns a rapidly growing brand of tuner products ARK Design. Andy had already mentioned to Eric about the possibility of building a time attack demo car to showcase his brand and as they say the rest is history!
When your day job is Product development Manager at Cosworth US it would be fair to assume that you would be fairly well connected in the racing game! So to start with the office at Cosworth, the minute Eric mentioned his plan he was greeted with “yep we are in” from three of the Cosworth staff including the Principle Engineer Tyler Hara.
Joing Eric is Katsu Hibio, one of the original GTR gurus from Japan back in the early days of RH9 racing and Cosworth sales manager, Kyong Choi. These guys have pretty much given up their social life for several months to make this dream a reality.
The car was stripped bare and shipped off (along with several cartons of Heineken beer) to one of the most experienced and talented fabricators in Los Angeles, Gary Castillo from Design Craft Fabrication. Gary has a long history of being the “behind the scenes” man on many of the most famous sport compact builds in the USA.
Joining the team as “suspension tech” is an ex-TRD suspension engineer and co-MotoIQ blogger Mike Kojima. Mike has been around suspension tuning forever and has a strong relationship with KW suspension. In recent times he was responsible for dialling the setup on Dai Yoshiharas Formula D 2011 champion drift car.
For the powerplant Eric always wanted to do something that not only would outperform anything on the track but also bring the car into the new millennium with a “new-tech” engine replacing the powerful but ageing RB26.
So the team have managed to repower the GTR with a Cosworth-built VQ35 Turbo that should produce close to 1000 horsepower if needed, complete with a 4WD. This is coupled to a Holinger 6 speed sequential gearbox and a pair of Albins custom crown wheels to give optimum gearing.
Now onto the driver… Whilst it would be fairly easy to find an extremely experienced and fast driver in the USA, there was a strong synergy between this car and Tarzan Yamada. Our guess is Tarzan will be the guy behind the wheel giving this car a real sense of Deja Vu!
Without a doubt, this will be one of the most highly anticipated entries into WTAC 2012. If you are even slightly interested in GTRs and time attack racing you really should check out the build thread on MotoIQ because this article does not even go close to telling you how much effort these guys are putting into this car!
For a full team profile click here