Return Of The Mack: Evasive Motorsports’ 86 Races To The Clouds Again

Photography by Larry Chen

It has been three years since we last visited the famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) with this Toyota 86 racer. In the time since, Evasive Motorsports has been busy buttoning up the chassis with more power, a new driver, and a new partnership. Avid readers will remember late last year during time attack competition at Road Atlanta when we highlighted what changed on the car since its 2016 climb.

Well, the Race to the Clouds has come and gone again. Despite qualifying second in its class behind the BBI Autosport Porsche GT3 Cup car entry this year, the ENEOS/Evasive Motorsports Toyota 86—piloted by former Formula DRIFT champion Daijiro Yoshihara—unfortunately suffered a mechanical failure before completing the climb again. It’s truly heartbreaking for the team, considering the strong pace the car achieved during the testing sessions.

With 156 turns laid out over the course of 12.42 miles, PPIHC is one of the most grueling climbs in the world, and challenges not only the focus and skill of drivers, but also the torture that a car can withstand. Battling randomly changing weather conditions, ever-increasing altitude, and rapidly depleting atmosphere this climb to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak is the ultimate test of man and machine.

We caught up with Mike Chang, CEO and co-founder of Evasive Motorsports, to talk about his emotions during this year’s Hill Climb, and what went wrong when their entry suffered defeat to the mountain once again…

Front Street Media: When did the idea to climb Pikes Peak again in 2019 initially come to mind?

Mike Chang, Evasive Motorsports: Last year, casually talking to Dai about it and how it would be a challenge for both him as a driver and us as a team, and it took off from there.

FSM: When did you actually decide it was happening?

MC: I would say probably after SEMA it was kind of on our mind, but nothing was solidified. We didn’t have all of the pieces come together yet, but by early this year ENEOS approached us with a serious offer, and we sat down with Dai to do it.

FSM: Why bring on Dai Yoshihara as the driver?

MC: Dai is a capable driver. Also, he is our good friend, and together we’ve had success in time attack in the past, so it was a great match.

FSM: What has changed on the car since we featured it at Road Atlanta?

MC: It has a new turbo, and a brand new engine now. The previous engine—the one we ran for Atlanta—is completely fine, but this new one has basically zero miles. So brand-new block, stroker, and then the head, we did some extra work to it. The valve seats are beryllium seats, so that allows us to rev the car much higher and safer. So basically, from top to bottom was completely new and refreshed. We didn’t want to chance it with the used engine.

FSM: What was the most significant change to the car since its last trip up the mountain?

MC: Not too many parts have changed; it’s more on the tuning side. The turbo and engine are new, but a lot has been done to the suspension and aero tuning. We did do some shock adjustments, as far as changing the canister pressure, and the ride height settings. And then the aero was all pretty minor, but we added louvers to the fenders and more venting on the hood.

FSM: What kind of preparations did the team and car go through leading up to the hill climb this year?

MC: We went to Buttonwillow a few times, Big Willow, and Horse Thief Mile. So four to five of those testing sessions and the official Pikes test days.

FSM: Walk me through your feelings once the car drove through the starting gate on Sunday.

MC: I was anxious and nervous. You never know what happens once the car leaves the starting line. There is always the possibility of something going wrong no matter how much preparation was done beforehand.

FSM: What happened to the car in the Devil’s Playground zone of the mountain?

MC: Something in the rearend let go. We don’t know exactly what yet, but I have a pretty good idea of what happened. What it is, is that the rear differential assembly, it’s not robust enough.

FSM: How do you go about diagnosing why the failure happened?

MC: For drifting, people have used the same FR-S rear without much issue, but I think with the sequential, the slicks, and the overall load we have on all the components—everything else is beefed up. The engine, transmission, driveshaft, the axles are all very beefy, but the last thing that got upsized or increased in capacity is the rear differential. At the same time it’s just kind of bad luck, because if it would have went out on us in any of the testing, then we would have known to address that problem. But unfortunately that wasn’t the case, so it had to happen on race day.

FSM: What went through your mind when you finally got word that the mountain won yet another year?

MC: Disappointment, but we knew we did our best. Luck just was not on our side this year. We are also wholly saddened at the life that was lost. RIP Carlin Dunne.

FSM: Who helps to make it possible for your team to pursue this challenge?

MC: All of our sponsors: ENEOS, Turn 14 Distribution, Yokohama Tires, Garrett Motion, Stoptech, EVS Tuning, GReddy, Sparco USA, APR Performance, MotoIQ, Gran Turismo, Ignition Projects, and all that supported us along the way!

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