If you've ever visited the land Down Under, where Japanese dream machines like the Nissan Skyline GT-R and Mitsubishi EVO are as commonplace as kangaroos and didgeridoos, you may have noticed that modified Hondas aren't nearly as prevalent as they are here in North America. But Sydney natives Benny and Jimmy Tran have turned their EG Civic hatchback into one of the most recognizable Hondas in the world of time attack, thanks to their surprising blend of American go-fast goodies and an impressive performance at the World Time Attack Challenge at Eastern Creek Raceway, just a stone's thrown from their backyard workshop.
The Tran brothers have always been car guys, having owned an impressive array of high-performance iron, including an R34 Skyline GT-R and an EVO VII as well as a more-Australian-than-Crocodile-Dundee Holden Commodore V-8. But they've also owned some FWD pocket rockets like a Suzuki Swift and several Honda Integras, so they had a very solid foundation to build upon. In 2005, they acquired this '92 Civic hatchback and started building it as a show car and occasional track day mule.
According to Benny, "We started by putting in a B18c Type-R engine, which was the start of things to come. That was our first engine swap, learned purely off Internet resources. Once the transplant was completed, we slowly began modding the car, starting with simple bolt-ons to the suspension. That's when I attended a club track day and fell in love with the car even more."
Now officially and completely hooked on the go-fast crack pipe, Benny and the Backyard Performance crew began looking for ways to improve their EG's performance enough so they could stake their claim to the title of Australia's fastest time attack Honda. This led to the inevitable K-series engine swap, which combined with continued development of the suspension, aero and chassis gave them a potent time attack machine that was already putting a scare into the local AWD turbo crowd.
But for the kind of violent forward thrust required to achieve their lofty goal, Benny turned to Oscar Jackson and Oscar Jr. at Kraftwerks USA for one of their Rotrex supercharger K-Race kits. According to Benny, "One of the main reasons we built this car was to have fun. Me and Jimmy discussed a built NA motor for the car initially, but when it comes down to the fun factor - the thrill of going fast - a forced induction motor was much more appealing. We spent some time reading reviews of forced induction options for a FWD time attack car and came to the conclusion that a supercharger would best suit our application. After a few consultation calls to Oscar Jr. at Kraftwerks, the kit was purchased and installed within a three-week period."
Asking the front wheels to put 350 or so ponies to the pavement while also handling turning duties meant the BYP team had to think long and hard about gearing and final drive ratios. "We had to do something to better match the gearing of the K20 6-speed to the supercharged K24/K20, and thanks to Jeff at Special Project Motorsports we were the first Australian car to use a Gear-X close ratio K-series gearset," Benny says. "We then lowered the final drive to 4.3 to achieve the gearing and top speed we required for our local circuit."
With a fully sorted chassis and suspension package that includes Öhlins coilovers, spherical bearings in place of rubber OE bushings, a custom welded-in 6-point rollcage, as well as their own BYP front splitter and rear wing mounts, Benny threw down some seriously quick laps during the World Time Attack Challenge at Eastern Creek in May. In fact, the BYP Civic recorded a 1:41.236 lap, good for tenth quickest in the Open class and second fastest among the FWD competitors, not to mention quicker than a whole flock of GT-Rs, EVOs and STIs. For video evidence of Benny's skills behind the wheel, search YouTube for "BYP Honda Civic 1:41.2 Lap WTAC" and enjoy the HD goodness (youtube.com/watch?v=fcdbwOMfCig).