Evolution plays a big part in time attack, just as it does in many other forms of motorsport. We see it all the time, the little changes, the improvements that come out of research or trial and error. But sometimes people skip a few steps, and with impressive results.
After a two year hiatus, the Top Fuel Racing FD3S Mazda RX-7, owned and driven by Kiyotaka-san, has made a come back, or at least an appearance at the recent Attack Tsukuba event.
As I mentioned in my main event post, this car just blew me away. I wasn’t alone either; the FD had a constant crowd of curious people around it most of the day trying to check out what changes had been made. Except “changes” would be an understatement, because the TFR team took a step back and started afresh with the project.
The car, which had previously lapped in the 56-second zone, was rebuilt from the ground up. Kiyotaka-san is now shooting for a low 50-second lap, and the hardware is certainly there to support it. The chassis, engine, aero and suspension have all been revised, and the result is a completely new car.
Let’s start with the engine, or rather the engine bay. It’s a simple layout; what wasn’t required was ditched to free up space and ultimately save weight and complexity. That also includes the mechanical water pump, which was removed and replaced with a more efficient, less bulky and less power-sapping electric item.
The 13B dumps its exhaust gasses into an HKS T51R, one of the biggest turbos the Japanese brand used to make (now replaced by the GTIII-5R).
This is neatly plumbed into a almost flat-mounted intercooler which takes full advantage of the space that’s been freed up in front of the motor.
The large-diameter piping then feeds a Pro-Jay Typhoon intake manifold through a larger throttle body. It’s not too common in Japan to see people running aftermarket intake plenums for 13Bs; most of the time the stock item is deemed more than capable, or will be slightly modified in an attempt to boost flow. This setup, however, looks like it’s perfectly gauged to carry the massive volume of cooled intake charge the turbo system can supply.
As I was taking a closer look at the details of the build, Kiyotaka-san was gently warming the car up.
With the car on axle stands he kept it at a steady 2,000rpm while the Quaife sequential gearbox and differential came up to temperature.
There’s virtually nothing left in the interior; it’s all exposed yet painted metal, with a serious-looking roll cage and wiring laced around the cabin. The passenger side houses a small ATL fuel cell with a Radium fuel pump and surge tank assembly inside.
Every detail of this build is top notch; the brake system is based around lightweight AP Racing calipers, the same items you’re likely to see on a GT300 class Super GT machine.
Much like the rest of the car, the aero is functional yet minimalistic. There’s a real sense of high-end design and construction.
In between the body and the diffuser you can see the small cooler cores for the transmission and differential, as well as the titanium exhaust system’s massive silencer.
And check out the billet rear lower arms.
The rear hatch is replaced with a sheet of carbon fiber moulded to mimic the contours of the trunk lid, glass and all. That means there’s no real way to see rearward, other than the Craft Square side mirrors, which are carbon too of course. The single element rear wing is still quite compact if we compare it to other cars that were present on the day like the Friends Racing S15 and the AutoBahn Z30 Soarer. Maybe the team are working towards a more aggressive rear downforce as they dial in the car properly.
The car wears Pan Speed front and rear vented fenders, with the front end being a custom design integrated around the large front splitter.
The TFR FD3S completed a number of laps during the Attack event, but times weren’t officially recorded as this was a shakedown test more than anything. It looked fast though, and I noticed some really potent acceleration out of Tsukuba’s corners.
Yes, this is another important new car we need to keep a close eye on during the final few weeks of Japan’s 2017/2018 time attack season.
Dino Dalle Carbonare