Photos: Tiby Gherasim & Ken | Art of Tune
During our time at TAS 2023, the opportunity to attend Attack Tsukuba was presented to us. Kikuchi-san from K2 Racing invited us to come along as he aimed to set a new time record with his FD. As it was also the 10th anniversary of Attack Tsukuba, we were eager to attend and capture the event to share it with you guys so enjoy the shots!
Tsukuba Circuit, located in Ibaraki Prefecture, is approximately an hour’s drive north of Tokyo. We arrived early on the day to capture the setup, which is usually off-limits to the public. Spectators are allowed to enter these events typically from 10am with tickets costing only JPY 2,000. More information on Time Attack, can be found on their website which currently only operates in Japanese.
About Tsukuba Circuit:
Tsukuba Circuit, a U-shaped course located in Japan, has become famous for being a hub for time attack competitions. Despite being one of the shortest tracks in Japan at 1.271 miles long, it has gained popularity among car enthusiasts, especially tuners, due to its close proximity to Tokyo. The track was initially built for motorcycle racing and hosted rounds of the All-Japan F3 Championship and the Japanese Touring Car series, which were both popular.
Tsukuba Circuit rose to prominence as the premier venue for time attack competitions in the mid-1990s. Tuners used the track to test their changes, and soon everyone was competing to record the quickest lap time. To outperform the competition, tuners even went so far as to construct customized vehicles, such as the HKS CT230R Lancer Evolution, which has a body built completely of carbon fiber.
Tsukuba Circuit gained global fame with the advent of video games like Gran Turismo, which featured time attack modes regularly. Despite no longer being used for major car and bike competitions, Tsukuba Circuit remains incredibly popular and is expected to continue being so for years to come.
In 2001, a second circuit was built alongside the main course after the former mini-bikes circuit was entirely renovated. The new course, known as the 1000 course, has a length of 1km and is used for various events, including driver training and club racing events. The original circuit was renamed the 2000 course to differentiate it from the new one.
In contrast to other timed motorsport disciplines, time attack championships begin with complete rolling starts after a warm-up lap during which competitors must accelerate out as quickly as they can to determine how quickly they will enter their timed lap. Competing vehicles must have tires approved for use on roads because they are typically modified versions of road-going vehicles. Yet over time attack vehicles improved.
Yoshiki “Fire” Ando recently broke the 50-second barrier in Tsukuba while driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX for Escort Drag Racing Service. It had never been done before with a tuner car on a production chassis and semi-slick street tires. Before Ando, HKS and Nobuteru Taniguchi achieved a time under 50 seconds with a top speed of 238.253 km/h in the HKS Toyota 86 TRB-03 on slick tires. Although it was set on slick tires, this record was heavily contested as a traditional tuner car record. With standard semi-slick street tires, HKS keeps the TRB-03 at a time of 50.259 seconds.