Leon Scott’s Lancer Evolution VII oozes J-side time attack style – and not by chance.
Time attack racing is no longer a Japanese-only sport. Like drifting, in recent years the time attack style of hot-lap, balls-out motorsport has gone global, with its fast-paced action and aggressive, fire-breathing cars fast becoming favourites in the high-performance import tuning world. The States, the UK and Australia all have very successful series that pull big crowds and competitors alike, and it’s only a matter of time before New Zealand catches up. Aucklander Leon Scott is just ahead of that curve, and plans to be right at the front of the pack when it happens, with help from his 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII.
Leon has owned Evos his whole life. In fact, between them, he and his partner Katherine have owned every iteration of Evolution from 0 to VII. This year he was the Street Class time attack champion at the V 4&Rotary North Island Jamboree.
We talked to Leon about the car, the drive and the future of this new motorsport.
Leon, yours is a name we’ve heard time and time again over the years; where have you come from?
I’ve been around the scene for a long time now. I started with a Galant VR-4 Evo 0 years ago; I’ve been building and racing Mitsubishi Evolutions in some form or another ever since.
Back in those early days the import scene was all about drag racing — circuit racing was for old men and no one had even heard of drifting. Were you on the quarter-mile hunt like everyone else?
Absolutely. I was very involved in drag racing back then. It was great until the cars started getting faster and more powerful. We were quickly learning just what our machines were capable of power-wise, especially the Evos. Unfortunately, this meant more and more breakages as the cars started heading well over 300 kilowatts.
Is that why you stopped hitting Meremere?
One of the reasons, yes. It was just becoming so expensive. The problem was, if you wanted to get a new personal best, you essentially had to push your car to a point where there was a good chance that a gearbox would blow or an axle would snap. Besides that, on a race day you jump in your car, drive for 10 or so seconds, then park it up for a couple of hours until you can do the same thing again. It just wasn’t good value for money in my eyes; that’s why I made the switch to time attack circuit racing.
Ten seconds versus 25 minutes makes for a compelling argument. But what about wear and tear?
Circuit racing is hard on cars, yes, but in a different way. There are no brutal 7000rpm launches to deal with, but you certainly still need to build a strong car that can take a complete beat-down for a full 25 minutes without running a bearing, overheating or destroying a turbo. It’s an entirely different approach to car building — less of a focus on all-out power and more on handling, braking and reliability.
Your Evo VII is a perfect example of that ethos, how long have you been building it?
I’ve owned it for three years now and I’ve been slowly building it over that time, all the while racing it as much as I can.
Is it finished?
Not quite, I have a bigger turbo and a better fuel system to go on next. But in saying that, it’s a very competitive car as it is.
At 270 kilowatts at the wheels, many readers might be surprised to learn that your car runs a factory motor and a factory turbo. How have you achieved such good results?
It’s essentially the reason why I chose a late-model Evo for the build — they are just so well engineered. I did a lot of research before getting into the project and spent a lot of time looking at what guys like AMS in the States are doing with stock motors and turbos. It has been proven that an untouched late-model 4G63 can run 300 kilowatts at the wheels safely, even in the harsh world of time attack racing. As for the turbo, the exhaust wheel and housing have been worked on, which helps a lot. Otherwise it is just simple, sensible and proven mods. I’m not after huge horsepower, I just want a well-balanced car with enough grunt to match its handling and braking capabilities.
How fast is the car?
I’ve run a 1.05-second lap at Pukekohe on semi-slick rubber, which I’m very happy with.
That’s definitely up there, especially for a car that is completely street legal. What is it like to drive?
On the circuit it’s awesome. Because the car still runs the factory TD05, boost response is great, making the car very driveable. The AYC system in the late-model Evos also makes a huge difference. As a street car it still drives fairly well; it’s not exactly the most comfortable thing to go for road-trips in, though, so it doesn’t see public roads that often.
Ah yes, the other great advantage gifted to the Lancer: Active Yaw Control. Explain exactly what it does and why it makes such a difference.
Put very simply, the AYC computer constantly monitors the wheels, and when it detects slippage in one wheel, it compensates by redirecting more power to others, meaning that you could be completely crossed-up in a heap of trouble then simply drive out of it.
You have quite clearly built a very competitive time attack car that wouldn’t be out of place in the big competitions overseas — how much do you think it has cost you?
I haven’t really added it all up to be honest, but it has been a slow, bit-by-bit process. At a guess, I would say including the purchase price of the car three years ago, the entire bill would be sitting up around the 50 grand mark. Then again, the only reason I have been able to do it is with help from my sponsors.
That sort of money is probably out of reach for a lot of people who might be interested in time attack racing; what advice could you give?
First of all, you don’t need to start with such an expensive car. Bear in mind, three years ago Evo VIIs were still pretty pricey. Secondly, the greatest thing about building a competitive circuit car is that it’s not all about power. Get your handling, braking and reliability sorted first, and then worry about horsepower. It needn’t be a complete money-draining exercise.
You are a big devotee of the Super Lap/time attack racing format. It has been quietly simmering away here in New Zealand for a couple of years but has yet to take off. What is your take on the situation?
It will take off. Just look at the UK, the States and now even Australia. It’s huge overseas and it’s only a matter of time before people pick up on it here, just like what happened with drifting a few years ago. It’s the perfect situation in which to test your driving skills and your car’s ability to perform, all while keeping it street legal.
Not to mention the fact that time attack styling is completely and totally bad-arse. Because at the end of the day, people can go fast on the circuit and that’s great, but they still want to be able to take that same car out on a Friday night and get the thumbs up from everyone else.
Absolutely. Time attack style is all about aggression. Big wings, canards, carbon fibre everywhere. Hopefully, when things pick up here in New Zealand it will take a few more people off the streets and onto the circuit. It always amazes me that people spend so much money paying off traffic tickets and fines. You could be putting that money into your car and hitting proper racetracks as fast as you can possibly go, but instead you might as well be pulling cash out of your wallet and lighting it on fire.
I guess that’s one of the reasons the time attack format has so much potential.
Absolutely. Big things look to be happening in the near future for time attack in New Zealand, so keep an eye out!
2001 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII GSR – Specifications
Engine: Mitsubishi 4G63 2.0-litre DOHC 16V, factory crank, pistons, rods, ARP rod bolts, balance shaft removed, ACL bearings, Group A oil pump, Cometic head gasket, ARP head bolts, port/flowed cylinder head, HKS 272-degree cams, GReddy adjustable cam gears, HKS valve springs, HKS retainers, solid lifters, Nickel Sport 20G turbo upgrade, Muse Motorsport high-flow cast iron exhaust manifold, custom wastegate port, Turbosmart 38mm external wastegate, XForce dump pipe, HKS Super Sequential blow-off valve, Autobahn 600x300x76mm intercooler, custom intercooler piping, heat-wrapped HKS front pipe, custom 3-inch exhaust system, Trust stainless muffler, machined throttle body, HKS Super Power Flow air filter, A’PEXi cold airbox, 4-inch intake tract, 780cc Precision injectors, HKS high-flow fuel rail, Sard adjustable fuel pressure regulator, external Bosch Motorsport fuel pump, internal Walbro fuel pump, alloy radiator, twin 12-inch fans, Turbosmart hoses, Redline Performance remote oil filter, Redline Performance oil cooler, Ralliart HT leads, HKS spark plugs, A’PEXi Power-FC engine management system
Driveline: Factory Evo VII GSR 5-speed gearbox, short-shift kit, Xtreme chromoly flywheel, Xtreme race clutch, Ralliart AYC computer
Suspension/Brakes: Tein Type Flex adjustable coil-over shocks/springs, Tein EDFC, standard front strut brace, Cusco rear strut brace, Cusco rear swaybar, Nolathane bushes, Znoelli 12-slot ventilated rotors front/rear, factory Brembo callipers, Endless race pads, Goodridge braided brake lines
Wheels/Tyres: 18×9-inch +30 Nissan Skyline R34 GT-R forged alloys, Falken Azenis RT615 semi-slick tyres
Exterior: Evo IX front bumper, Evo IX side skirts, Evo IX rear bumper with diffuser, Evo IX vortex diffuser, Evo VIII MR headlights, Evo VIII MR tail lights, Valdi carbon fibre bonnet, APR carbon fibre front diffuser, URAS carbon canards, URAS carbon rear GT wing, Ganador carbon fibre mirrors, CRE8GRAFX custom vinyl graphics
Interior: MSNZ-spec half-cage, KW SFI race seats, Jamex FIA 3-inch harness belts, MSNZ-spec fire extinguisher, Turbosmart dual-stage boost controller, HKS Type 1 turbo timer/lap counter, Trust/GREX shift knob, Ralliart cluster, Defi boost meter, Defi water temp meter, Defi Link controller, A’PEXi FC-Commander, Alpine CD/Tuner head unit
Performance: Dyno Power – 272kW @ wheels (VP 103RON race fuel), Pukekohe 1.05, Manfeild 1.16
Leon Scott – Driver Profile
Occupation: Redline Performance International Sales
Previously owned cars: Lancer Evo I, Evo II, Evo IV, Evo VI, Impreza WRX STI V2, Impreza WRX STI V7, BMW E46 coupe, Honda Euro wagon (current)
Dream car: McLaren F1
Leon thanks: Puma International, Boyd Autoworx, Ohlsen Developments, Soichi @ ST Hi-Tec, Redline Performance, Falken Tyres NZ, Mike @ CRE8GRAFX, Tuning Depot USA, Fast 4s, my partner Kat and all of my friends for their help. “Bring the noise!”
Words: Peter Kelly Photos: Dan Wakelin
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