It’s long name can be reduced to alphabet soup only car guys and girls might be equipped to decode, but Global Time Attack‘s annual Super Lap Battle at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, remains an unfiltered, full-strength, fan-friendly title fight for the heavyweights in time-attack competition.
Rivaled only by the annual World Time Attack Challenge competition in Sydney, Australia, Super Lap Battle invites the world’s top time-attackers in four classes to an internationally recognized circuit (with world-class facilities) to set and reset radial-tire, production-body world records on a stage that gives their achievements relevance to racing fans against World Challenge, IMSA and even Formula 1 best efforts.
International travel at this year’s event was stemmed yet again by pandemic conditions, but even so fans and racers in some classes came out in record numbers to compete.
GTA’s decision to combine their time-attack competition with competition heats of Gridlife’s Gridlife Touring Cup (GLTC) wheel-to-wheel racing certainly added to that achievement, as did their collaboration with car-show purveyors Just/Vibes and TX’s Lone Star Drift.
The Unlimited Class benchmark was set this time around by Kyle Schick in the no. 23 Nissan GTR of Lyfe Motorsports, with a 2:06.432 found in between shattering carbon-fiber driveshafts throughout the weekend. That’s better than nine seconds faster than last year’s best, good enough for a new Unlimited AWD record.
For reference, that’s faster than almost IMSA’s entire GTD field’s fastest laps clocked during the series’ last competition at the facility in 2017, and just a few seconds off the best times ever clocked by GT3, GTLM and GTE full race machines.
Not far behind were Feras Qartoumy in the no. 72 Qar Optics Racing Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with a 2:08.653, Cable Rosenberg 2:13.993 clocked in the no. 39 Dodge Viper of team Team Naturally Aspirated, each competitor battling through their own mechanical gremlins.
The Limited Class bar was set by Eric Fleming in the Fleming Racing Chevrolet Corvette Z06 with a 2:16.096, with Will Hardeman (2:20.050), and Thomas Thompson and Zachary Sober (2:20.689) battling closely for Second.
The perennial, yet friendly, grudge match between Jackie Ding and Amir Bentatou in Street Class saw Jackie come on top this time, with a 2:17.341 clocked in his PHD Racing GR Supra over Amir’s 2:20.075 in the fan-favorite turbo/K-powered NSX. Pushing HARD all weekend long was Chris Mayfield in his BMW M3 with an impressive 2:21.776. Lots of drivers like to talk about the time they had still “left on the table” in their runs; I don’t know if Chris had any. He really appeared to be driving his Bimmer at its current limit, all weekend long.
And in Enthusiast Class, Thomas Thompson was back for more, this time in his Cadillac ATS-V with a blistering 2:30.330 — resetting his own record and improving on his 2020 best time by seven seconds. Backing him up was Jonathan Wheeler in the TRP Racing Nissan 370Z (2:33.526) with Mary Valadez and her Acuity/PHD Racing-backed FK8 (2:38.417) rounding out the podium.
Mary actually drove her Civic to the event and back home again, all the way from NEW-freaking-JERSEY. But not before I could snap a full feature of it on the cold track at COTA. Click here to see more of that.
Personally, I love COTA, the sport of time-attack, and the current crop of competitors, many of whom I met years ago in other areas of racing. I believe strongly that this event has all the right elements in place to become the world’s preeminent time-attack competition, and can’t wait to see it grow over the coming years.
Have a look through my gallery below for more, and don’t forget to “SMASH THAT LIKE BUTTON” (or whatever I’m supposed to say here). I’m @LukeMunnell all around the web.