How two daily driven Evolutions won a racing championship.
A pair of mildly-modified Mitsubishi Evo X’s, fitted with Proxes R888R have won championship honours in a hard-fought season of the CAMS NSW Supersprint Championship.
Winning their class after dominating all eight rounds, drivers Nik Kalis and Toby Long drove their cars from driveway to the track and directly into pit lane. With track groups determined by lap times, the pair matched pace with Lamborghinis, Porsche Carrera Cup cars and V8 racers.
At this level there are two ways to the podium. The first; spend big on a factory special or modifying to the nth degree and trailer the car and a race team between rounds. The second; focus on keeping your car on track and reliable, maximize seat time and act on every data insight available.
Nik and Toby chose the latter route. Modifying their Evos to run at the sharp end of the pack, the cars were built for consistency. Their minimalist modifications not made for bragging rights and bench racing, but for maximum laps.
They firmly believe that the best modification you can make to a car is the driver.
“The less time they are on jack stands the more fun we can have,” says Nik.
“Too many guys go for big power and end up losing reliability. In the end they can hardly drive their car. One of the best mods you can do to your car is to drive it and become a better driver. That’s worth seconds and seconds. “
The pair have studied the circuits. They know Sydney Motorsport Park is quickest in the morning session, they know their max corner speeds and have dreams about Wakefield Park’s apexes. They log and pore over data so they know when to go hard and when to back it down, or where they can find an extra tenth.
While others are getting warmed up, Nik and Toby are hurtling into turn one at 230km/h with their eyes narrowed.
“We always video and log data,” says Toby. “We review it and see if we can turn in earlier or brake later. We are constantly looking at video and reviewing each other’s corner speeds or peak speeds. Pushing each other”
“Nik and I are very OCD. We measure tyre pressures to the half PSI, we look at our data. It’s very planned. When it comes to race day we take it very seriously… We are there to improve. We are there to go faster.”
Nik has a long history with Evos. His Evo IX was a track monster that led the local all-paw turbo scene. Built to operate on a knife-edge, the car’s increasingly fickle nature took Nik back to the standard Evo X, looking to simplify; drive more and wrench less.
“A doctor once told me ‘You’re an adrenaline junkie. You need to get your fix and you need to get it naturally’. If I don’t go racing, something’s missing,” says Nik.
Toby’s Evo X is his first turbo car. Joining the Evo fraternity, a lack of local tuners for the then new X saw Toby teaching himself the dark art of ECU tuning. He got good, fast. His tuning is in both his and Nik’s cars . A sales rep by day, Toby piles into the car in his suit, and it follows him around the city on calls.
Both cars are street driven, and in Toby’s case daily driven. On track, the pair match times with exotics and big dollar builds.
Fitted to both are Proxes R888R. The tyres have logged over 100 laps at race speed, while getting the pair to and from work and around town throughout the year.
“The Proxes were getting quicker as they were getting older,” says Nik. “The breakaway is progressive. It’s more fun because it’s controllable. They look great on the street and Toby and I are really impressed at how good they are in the wet."
“The compound is made for the street so it doesn’t take hard driving to warm them up. They are ready before the car’s warm. Some other tyres are too cold and you leave your house and you might not make it around the corner.”
Toby said the R888R suited his driving-first philosophy.
“My car is number one, a street car, “ he says.
“I did seven rounds on the Toyos with a fresh set for the eighth round, and I did eight months of street driving. I just fill up with E85 and basically drive it everywhere, rain or shine.”
At the last round of the season, Nik recorded a Sydney Motorsport Park PB of 1:41.7 on Proxes R888R. He regularly logs 1:04s at Wakefield Park.
“$300,000 Porsche GT3s are doing 1.43’s. Motor racing is expensive but with an Evo and Toyos it’s totally affordable.”
Next year, Toby plans to head south, and spend some time lapping Winton and learning the track.
Nik will step up and head into a Supersprint class dominated by trailer-toted dedicated racers, with a wider 295 R888R.
“I’ll be embarrassing of a lot of race cars in my street driven car with number plates.” he says.
“You’ve gotta love coming first in class and then driving the same car on the same wheels and tyres to work the next day.”