Dai Yoshihara Wins 2019 Super Lap Battle Time Attack

One might think that SEMA Show would have been the perfect ending to the 2019 event season for ENEOS. Debut Super Street Magazine editor-in-chief Sam Du’s A90 Supra — mission complete. However, there was a final race to check off: Global Time Attack’s Super Lap Battle Finals. This would be the place where Sam’s Supra would be able to prove it has the performance to back up its stellar looks. And with ENEOS Ambassador Dai Yoshihara behind the wheel, we were confident something great would happen.

Recognized as America’s premiere time attack competition, those daring to take on Buttonwillow Raceway on November 16/17 were treated to pretty much a perfect weekend with mild weather conditions and blazing fast times. While Dai and Evasive Motorsports were ready to put down some fast times in Sam’s Supra, they decided to give one car another chance at glory. The ENEOS / Evasive Motorsports / Turn 14 Distribution Toyota 86 Pikes Peak race car was brought out of hibernation for redemption after not completing a full pass at the uphill climb earlier this summer.

Back in September, Sam, Dai and the Evasive team visited Buttonwillow to do initial shakedown testing on the Super Street Supra with mild modifications, including a prototype EVS Tuning front lip spoiler, a set of Titan 7 TS-5 wheels wrapped in Yokohama rubber, KW prototype coilovers and Recaro seats, to name a few. In stock form the A90 was able to put down a 1:58.9, which is very fast for a stock vehicle (a Porsche 997 GT2 can do a 1:58, so this is crazy for a Supra)! Even with a series of electrical issues (namely various sensors triggering ECU fault codes, putting the car into safe mode several times), Dai was able to take Sam’s Supra from a 2:04 with traction control on, down to a very respectable 1:57.6 by the end of testing. This 1.5-second improvement was good enough to maintain a track record for Buttonwillow.

On SLB’s main race day, traction control issues returned to Sam’s Supra, forcing the Evasive team to troubleshoot most of the day, losing valuable time on track. The first three sessions resulted in a DNF, then a 2:02 and finally a 1:59, all with the same traction control issues. Towards the latter part of the day, he ran another 1:59, and during his final session with Sam’s Supra, with some slight improvements, could only lock in a 1:57, matching his best lap time from shakedown testing. It was a bit of a bummer, but the team plans to rally for the 2020 season and get Sam’s car back on track for becoming one of the fastest A90s in North America!

Jumping between the Super Street A90 and the Evasive 86 kept Dai on his toes throughout the day. A combination of driving, pulling into the pits for feedback, getting back on track, then taking a small breather in between. The Unlimited class introduces faster competition, and it’s a night and day difference seeing Dai perform effortlessly between that and Street class.

The current record at Buttonwillow is a 1:40.379, set by the FXMD NSX in 2012 by Billy Johnson. During the first session on Saturday, Dai lands a 1:45 in the ENEOS / Evasive Motorsports / Turn 14 Distribution Toyota 86, followed shortly with a 1:42.8 in session two and a 1:42.0 during his last session, at which point the team has to retire to address a broken axle. Evasive fixes the car in time for the second session on day two, and Dai is able to secure a 1:44 with older tires. Evasive swaps in a fresh set of tires, which made a huge difference, allowing Dai to knock off a few seconds, reaching a 1:41.8! The crew worked feverishly to get him quickly back on track where he’s able to back his time up with a 1:41.09, so close to the track record! Without much time to get him back onto track, Dai calls it a day with two minutes left in the last session of the day, locking in the 2019 Super Lap Battle Unlimited class victory!

It’s been an enormous year watching Dai and the Evasive team blossom this year in different forms of motorsports, and they’ve promised us even bigger things to come in 2020. Could we finally see a record being broken? Only time will tell…

Photos: Darrien Craven and Takuya Akiyama