Japan might still be in their winter season but preparations for the 2007 D1-GP season are coming to an end for most teams. This is the case with Suenaga's drift weapon, the RE Amemiya built FD3S, which was shown for the first time a few months back at the Toyo booth during the Tokyo Auto Salon. On top of an unexpected last-minute tire sponsor change from Yokohama to Toyo, it seems the car has gone through a complete remake for this year. We dropped by the RE Amemiya shop a stone's throw from Narita airport to find out more about the new RX-7.
For a family run business, RE Amemiya has achieved some pretty impressive results over the years. In 2006, they achieved a season victory with their Super GT GT-300, but things haven't been going so well in the professional D1 drift championship. Despite Suenaga's best attempts, the team hasn't been able to score valuable points, relegating it to the bottom of the Top 10 list. But for 2007 they've gone full-out, sporting the full Super GReddy body kit displayed on last year's tri-rotor Auto Salon car. Full body conversions like this are usually kept for show cars - cars that spend most of their time being polished, not being thrashed sideways on the track! No drift car has looked as good as this, ever!
No money was spared on this project. On top of being a no-compromise drift machine this RX-7 needed to look good, after all it's a moving, or rather drifting, billboard showing off what RE Amemiya is capable of. The brand new 1993 donor car was built from the ground up. First, it was completely stripped and cleaned up to accept the full welded-in rollcage and chassis modifications to turn it into a D1 contender. After all the stiffening and cutting around the front wheel arch areas, the chassis was sprayed with a few basecoats of baby blue.
The work on the body began by the fitting of the front bumper, which needed substantial modifications to accept the required twin oil-cooler setup (with electric extractor fans), power steering cooler and new-generation V-mount kit. Other modifications included eliminating the position lights, which left two air intakes perfect for brake cooling and an opening to accommodate the tow hook. After deciding that the twin-Xenon Porsche 997 headlights weren't a good choice for a drift car, RE Amemiya built some look-a-like items using IPF reflectors and a bit of ingenuity. The result is simply stunning, especially with the carbon detailing
Next, a lightweight carbon bonnet was done in wet carbon and reinforced from the inside with an FRP frame. One of the D1 mechanics let loose on it with a drill one night after a few beers - the result might not look pretty but it adds to the weight saving! Front wings and side skirts followed next along with the extremely lightweight FRP doors, which feature acrylic windows (fixed for the passenger's side and electric for the driver's side). The widening of the rear end begins with the over-fenders, which grab the low skirt line and create a flowing contour that's taken to the rear bumper. The design of the latter features a low rotor-shaped center section where the reverse light has been positioned. To keep weight down to 1,100kg, the rear hatch is made of FRP and acrylic screen. It's no longer hinged to the body and has to be removed by two people. To finish off the kit, front canards have been thrown in as well as rear carbon items for the rear. The RE Amemiya door mirrors give even more appeal to the overall appearance. The car was sprayed by Amemiya-san himself. New Enkei GTC01 18" wheels wrapped in Toyo rubber were chosen and pushed out with additional spacers to fit under the increased body dimensions.
RE Amemiya increased the spec of the mechanicals this season to help Suenaga keep up with the rest of the pack. At the time we shot the FD it was running a T78 Trust turbine, but the D1 mechanic in charge of the engine said it would be swapped out for a larger T88 to help push power to about 550 ps - about 50 ps higher than last year's car. The base of the engine is a RE Amemiya bridge-ported 13B fitted with a new V-mount kit developed in conjunction with the guys at Trust/GReddy, just down the road from the RE workshop. This kit features a larger-core intercooler and radiator for additional cooling and is combined with the piping kit and RE Amemiya large throttle for optimal response. On the intake side, a Trust Airinx cone filter keeps the air clean, while the exhaust is a full-titanium dolphin-tail RE Amemiya original that sounds like nothing else on this planet!
The big change for this year is the adoption of a Hewland sequential gearbox, straight form the GT-300 race car and helps immensely with the overall performance capabilities of the car. Suenaga will be able to select gears much faster and keep the engine on the boil, which is the reason the T78 turbine will be replaced with the T88. Keeping such a high-powered 13B happy when it comes to fuel supply is a set of high-flowing Bosh fuel pumps and a race car-like fuel system comprised of a tiny fuel tank (good for only a couple of laps), a collector tank and stainless steel braided fuel lines.
Suspension, as on every D1 car, is courtesy of DG-5 and built to RE Amemiyas' specifications and features Swift springs. RE Amemiya front and rear stabilizer bars keep a check on roll, while the rear strut tower bar doubles up as a mounting point for the racing harnesses. No front strut tower bar is being run to leave a little bit of torsion at the front end. This, the D1 mechanic explains, helps keep understeer to a minimum - exactly what you need on a drift car. Braking, surprisingly enough, is made up of GReddy 4-pot front calipers and two-piece rotors. The rear was left unchanged but like the front Project pads and braided lines were used.
The HKS F-Con V Pro still needs to be set up properly and there are a few scheduled test sessions left before the season starts. Having the first round in the U.S. will be a killer for most teams as money is as tight as ever in the D1-GP. As Amemiya-san explains for the first couple of rounds Suenaga will probably use the '06 car while the '07 machine will be finely tuned and hopefully ready for him to tackle the first Japan round in Ebisu (Round 2) on March 24 and 25. We'll be covering the first outing of the car at Mobara next month.
Specs: RE AMEMIYA D1-GP RX-7
RE Amemiya bridge ported 13B engine
Trust T78-29D turbocharger (T88 will be used in competition)
RE Amemiya dolphin tail full titanium muffler
Trust Airinix air filter
RE Amemiya big throttle kit
RE Amemiya new design V-mount kit, triple core intercooler & triple core radiator
Trust piping kit
Polished intake manifold
Custom power-steering reservoir tank
RE Amemiya big capacity oil catch tank (recirculating type)
RE Amemiya aluminium pulley kit
RE Amemiya radiator air separator tank
RE Amemiya electronic fan relay kit
RE Amemiya alternator/steering pump brake bar
RE Amemiya oil filter cap
RE Amemiya Super G oil (API-SL10W-40)
ATL racing fuel tank
BosCh Motorsport fuel pumps
RE Amemiya collector tank
Sard fuel pressure regulator
Braided stainless steel fuel lines
High intensity ignition coils & leads
RE Amemiya GT-300 oil filter
Trust oil coolers x 2 (with electric fan extractors
Custom power steering cooler
HKS F-Con V Pro ECU
Ogura Racing clutch
Hewland 6-speed sequential gearbox
RE Amemiya Super Racing LSD
DG-5 RE Amemiya Spec D1-GP drift suspension kit
RE Amemiya stabilizers bars
RE Amemiya rear strut tower bar
GReddy 4-pot front brake kit
Project racing pads all round
RE Amemiya Super GReddy full body kit
One off Porsche 997 front lights (IPF reflectors)
Rear carbon canards & diffuser for AD GT Kit
GT3 wet carbon rear spoiler
Carbon look door handles
Acrylic windows (not front windscreen)
FRP rear hatch
Wet carbon bonnet with drilled FRP reinforcement
InteriorFull welded-in rollcage
RE Amemiya deep cup alcantara racing steering wheel
Works Bell Rapfix GTC Ball Lock System
Bride racing bucket seats x 2
Carbon door cards
Blue main dash
Carbon-fiber custom instrument binnacle
Defi dash unit
Blue alcantara handbrake lever & boot
GReddy e-01 boost controller custom fitted in carbon center console
Custom built/fitted gear shifter & reverse lever
Carbon shift knob
Enkei GTC01 9x18 +18 (front), 10x18 + 22 (rear)
Toyo Trampio R1R 245/40/ZR18 (front),Toyo Proxes R1R 265/35/ZR18 (rear)