Top Fuel Racing’s FD3S Time Attacker

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
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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with the front end being a custom design integrated around the large front


That front end reminds me of NFS Underground 2 body kit (can't remember the name).
Good old days when gaming was a simple single player.
Back to the car, sure it will be one of a hell contender. Waiting for the upcoming results.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Yeah this looks like it's going to be a fast one!


So glad to see this; last time i saw anything on the TFR FD was back in 2015. Also seems like the rear wing and carbon hatch are the only things that stayed unchanged from 2015

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's been away for a while!


i'm curious as to why the rear diffuser has no vertical stabilizers on it.


That caught my eye as well, especially the lack of any mitigation for turbulent air from the tire. Which is generally considered to be the reason for strakes in diffusers. But hey maybe these guys know something we don't.

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I noticed that too. I guess they are experimenting to see what it does before adding complexity to it


Amazing car. What is the weight of the car? Or is that top secret? And going from a 56 second car to a 50 second car seems impossible to me. Just what are the major factors in such an improvement? Which upgrades are responsible for the bulk of faster times. Power, aero, driver?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

Impossible? Under Suzuki did it, Ando and the Escort Evo almost did it


"seems impossible." It would be fascinating to further dissect what Top Fuel did to get such potential. I have an FC RX7 and am happy to know that one ran a 56 second lap at Tsukuba.


I've been thinking about picking up an FD. Do they make solid project cars or are they too vintage to still modify easily?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

I get asked that a lot. In Japan it makes total sense, there are lots of donor cars out there and easy to source spares. There are also a lot of specialists, but in other countries I just don't know. Seems rotaries are rare everywhere except Australia and NZ.


Depending on where you live probably to expensive, imo. Here in California you're looking at 16k-20k for a clean, running, low mileage example. Aside from that it depends on what you want to use it for, I've heard that it is kinda fragile (frame and chassis design) for a drift car, but makes a great road course/time attack car. Last, it has vast aftermarket support. All up to you!


Yeah, I'm in NC and most are closer to $25k, I'm debating between a 7 and a gt86 since they're so close in price.

Mountain pass driving is my main build focus.


I'm more worried about the fuel cell in the pass seat. what standards does Japan have to build cars to conform to track regulations?

Dino Dalle Carbonare

It's a common practice


Supports for the rear dissfuser are my takeaway......thank you

So clean


Not much detail on the engine guys. Ports? Seals? Speak Mazda language.....


Seriously though, awesome car. Keep up the great work.


Looks like what Keisuke Takahashi would drive after he become a race driver.


I’ll never understand why they spend a ton of time, effort and money on a beautiful build like this, take the extra effort of designing aero, building an engine with top-of-the-line parts and then slap on a 15-year-old turbo that’s completely outgunned by anything made by Borg Warner or Garret in the last 5 years. Transient response, flow rates, spool times are all vastly improved and I would bet you just changing to a newer manifold and turbo running the same boost would net more time gained than most, if not all, of their minor aero tweaks.


Maybe that turbo is not stock... you know, they modify those too...


I was thinking the same thing!