VTEC Club USA’s Touge Battle: King of the Hill

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VTEC Club USA battles at Horse Thief Mile to find fastest Honda.

We’ve all seen the animated and drawn depictions of mountain racing from Japan. Touge runs made famous by “Initial D” and “Over Rev!” and video games like Wangan Midnight and Kaido Battle. It’s a “cat and mouse” chase that has never really seen sanctioning until June 17, 2017 when VTEC Club USA introduced the inaugural round of the Touge Battle. It was the birth of a new motorsport here in the US.

Touge battle, huh? How does it work?

The idea works much like drifting, you run a qualifying session – which was part of the normal time attack round earlier in the day – gather the sixteen best to battle it out in tandem runs until you determine a winner. The driver who pulls the most gap or the one who closes the gap to the smallest between the two runs is determined the winner. If the difference wasn’t enough, a sudden death battle would take place following that initial set of runs. This quickly makes it a very accessible sport that brings the excitement of wheel-to-wheel battles to the time attack crowd but with easily determined winners over what you get in a judged sport like drifting.

Front-wheel drive versus rear-wheel drive.

While this first event was small and limited to only Hondas, it was still a very exciting time. Many were concerned that this would become S2000 Touge but the qualifying sessions quickly proved that to be wrong. It was an almost balanced Civic versus S2000 top sixteen, with eleven of those cars being a FWD Honda model. Many of those eleven cars ran a displacement of under two-liters and naturally aspirated, too, with the B18C and D16 being the popular engine choice except for Garry Drowse in the turbocharged D16 EF Civic.

One of the wilder looking cars in the field was the Klutch Wheels CRX and its B20 VTEC swap. It sported a full cage, Momo Tuner Steering Wheel, and a Buddy Club Driver’s seat. It has a bit of a tall stance but it works out on track.

Tim Crane’s EK Civic is powered by a B18C and features a set of Volk Racing TE37 in bronze with Hankook Ventus RS4s wrapping around the very light weight wheel. The aerodynamics were an interesting choice. The front fenders feature a set of the Track Life Large EK Fender Cutouts. The rear bumpers had elongated oval cuts and helped make sure that air left the back tire and didn’t allow the rear bumper to act as a giant parachute. It must have worked as he not only qualified in the Top 16 but would end up in the final four.

That final four came down to Gerry Prieto, Daniel Beachnau, Billy Jang (who were all in S2000s) and the lone FWD still left in the competition, Tim Crane’s EK. Tim and Billy would battle it out first and, despite the perceived disadvantage of having the only FWD in the finals, Tim was able to stay close in his follow run and keep his distance in his lead run to force a sudden death run. Despite Billy’s best efforts in that sudden death, Tim pulled right up to him on the backside of Horse Thief and took the win to move on to the finals.

Gerry and Daniel would battle next and coming up the hill past the first turn, Gerry’s car had an understeer moment (into an unsuspecting GoPro), allowing Daniel to stay within arms reach until Gerry was able to pull away just prior to the finish line. Daniel had started with a larger gap at the start but with only one turn to go, Gerry pulled back up and finished closer than Daniel had right at the finish line to give him the win. That meant that the EK Civic and the S2000 would battle it out in the finals to find out who had the fastest Honda of the Touge.

EK vs. S2K: Winner take all.

Tim and his Civic didn’t let up one bit. While Gerry had the lead on the first run Tim kept a bead on the S2000 and kept his gap at less than two car lengths right up to the finish. On Tim’s lead run, he pulled start a large gap against the RWD Honda but Gerry didn’t give up and reeled Tim in just before the finish. The difference was close enough that a sudden death battle was called with a third car officiating behind them. Gerry would lead the final battle and it looked like that Tim would take it home as he stayed within a car length until the final two corners. Here, the grip of the Federal tires on the S2000 allowed Gerry to pull away and take the victory at the first ever Touge Battle.

Just before announcing the winners of the event, it was already announced that there would be a second Touge Battle in 2017 and there would be two Top 16 fields so that there could be more battles for more drivers. However, the record will show that the first ever Touge Battle Winner would be Gerry Prieto and his Honda S2000. We’ll have a feature on this historic winner soon but we’re already wanting more and can’t wait for the second ever Touge.

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