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Wizard of Aus: penguins and splitters

4 April 2016

Now, you’re probably wondering what the heck I am going on about. Well, you do most of the time regardless, but this time around, I’m speaking the truth. Being up in Sydney, the next time attack–specific event that I could get involved in would be the Yokohama World Time Attack Challenge, run by Ian Baker. As excited as I am about this event, I am still a part of the ‘now generation’, and wanted something to fill my bucket in the meantime. So, when I heard of the Vic Time Attack Challenge being held on Phillip Island, I booked my flights, teed up some mates to catch up with, and started to count down the days.


The power of the internet is a glorious thing. A couple of years ago now, when I owned my Nissan Stagea, I came across a guy named Kieran Malloch on Instagram. He was a photographer, he drove a Nissan Stagea, and he was into performance Japanese imports. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, but originally hails from where the blonde gals are in an abundant supply and the BMWs all have 20-inch chromies: Auckland’s North Shore.


I’d never met Kieran before, but I was delighted to know that he was willing to collect me from Melbourne’s Southern Cross train station before we would make our trip down to Phillip Island, and to the Seahorse Motel. He had other ideas though, and en route to Phillip Island, we made the detour to his friend Nity Jay’s house. I was told on the way there that Nity has been building a serious time attack FD Civic, which was still road legal. Road legal it was, and in no time we were barreling down one of Melbourne’s highways at a decent rate of knots. All thanks to the 300kW-plus supercharged K20A engine. Nity was one of the most passionate time attack enthusiasts I have come across, so we’ll be catching up with him at a later date.


Hands were shaken, man hugs were given, and we were back on the road to Phillip Island, where we would soon arrive a few whiskers before midnight. Now, there’s a saying that goes around the motorsport community that getting up for work can be a struggle, but getting up for motorsport is a breeze, even with the obnoxious time that we arose. A 5.30am alarm was set, as we were hoping to catch the sunrise.


The shots were worth it too, and I admit I’m not the best photographer in low-light situations, but I gave it a whirl. What a great challenge! It added an entire new element to the usual track-day photography. After signing in for media, and downing a surprisingly delicious mocha at the infield cafe, it then hit me that I was on a tiny island, with a racetrack.


It’s something you need to experience if you’re into motorsport — the backdrops are simply stunning. From this point on, the day was a mad flurry of driving to different locations around the track’s edge, drinking more caffeine, speaking to various drivers, checking out their machines, and just having a general blast. The weather gods turned it on too, and albeit a little icy, the sun was shining all day long.


Jason Dorrington, the man behind the event, was one of the most accommodating event organizers I’ve met to date. Jason was constantly asking if we were OK, having a good time, and if we were fed. For a first-time effort, I was more than impressed. His Topstage Composites Mazda RX-7 was out on track too. It looked and sounded like nothing else I have ever seen.


Now, if you know me, you’ll know that besides all of the Hondas I have owned, the GTO, the other random vehicles, etc., you’ll know that I love Skylines. They have been, and always will be, one of my favourite vehicles. So, when I stumbled across this white machine owned by Herbert Hugon, I had to take a closer look.


Originally a Skyline GTT, it now wears more aero than almost anything else out on track. It featured eight-piston D2 calipers up front and four-piston GReddy units down the back. The 18-inch Volks were shod in 295/30R18 Toyo rubber, and it was packing a just-shy-of-400kW RB30, with a Nitto 3.2-litre stroker kit. It looked, sounded, and went extremely well.


There was a bunch of unique stuff in the pits that snatched my attention too. Check out this FD Mazda RX-7 built by BYP. It now packs a turbocharged K20A engine!


There could only be one winner though, and that was this blue Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R driven by Matt Longhurst. The car was on form all day, and finished the day with a 1:36.


If Jason ever hosts another time attack event in Victoria, I’ll be there — 100 per cent. It was action-packed, well-run, and everybody in attendance had a grouse time.


For me, though, that’s not where my day ended. Kieran had organized a group of his car buddies to meet at a pizza joint at the bottom of the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne. We jumped in the car, made the two-hour journey, and met up with some hilarious old-school car owners. This is my favourite thing about being a car enthusiast; I am new to the country, new to the city, and already, I have made close friends and connections within the automotive community. What other sports, or interests, have this going for them? I wouldn’t change my passion for anything. And if you’re wondering, I didn’t see any penguins.