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 |   |  2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special
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2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special

Rapt’s track-prepped RX-7 may be one of the best-kept secrets in Japan

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Jan 21, 2014

Sitting low and wide, and polished to a mirror shine, this square-shouldered FD3S is a prime example of attention to detail. No matter where you look, you will find the sort of meticulous perfection that can only come from a passion bordering on obsession. Kabe-san of Rapt might not admit it, but he is a true RX-7 otaku!

The whole build of his personal FD has spanned close to a decade, at first being tuned for a more street-oriented use, but more recently having been prepared exclusively for extreme use on track. As Kabe-san explained, his company's main area of expertise is professional detailing—anything from polishing an oxidized and swirled paint finish to dent removal and window tinting. This goes a long way to explaining his obsessive-compulsive attention to detail, not to mention the impossibly deep luster of his RX-7's paint.

2002 mazda RX 7 type RS NOS pressure gauge Photo 2/8   |   2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special

Kabe-san's passion for rotary sports cars has also allowed him to develop a sort of side business as a tuner, specializing on the RX-7. He only does work for his car and cars of close friends, which is probably why the name Rapt is not a known one. In fact, Kabe-san explains that he is not even known in Japan as a tuner. He once had some exposure of the car in an old Option magazine, but it was only a picture. But by keeping a low profile, Kabe-san has had time to perfect each area of the car and is currently quite satisfied with it in both looks and performance. That's what they all say, but he swears there is very little he could possibly do to it to improve it further.

What attracted Kabe-san to the FD3S as a platform are its capabilities and potential, being a true driver's car with great balance and a more-than-adequate amount of power. He soon got comfortable with it, which is when the modifying began, first with the suspension, then with a little engine work. Enjoying the RX-7 on the track more and more called for additional tweaks, until the point where he decided to just go full out and create a dedicated circuit racer.

2002 mazda RX 7 type RS innovate air fuel meter Photo 3/8   |   2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special

Being a professional detailer means that he values the looks and finish of a car more than anything, so the idea was to create an eye-catching exterior using a carefully chosen selection of parts. The car had to be widened to fit more aggressively offset wheels, so Kabe-san called Kazama-san at Kazama Auto and had him send a set of his wide front and rear fenders over. A C-West front bumper and a set of wider side skirts, also from Kazama, accompanied these. A lot of work went into blending in the rear fenders with the rest of the body, creating a seamless transition from metal to FRP. Expanding foam was sprayed on the inside of the front and rear fenders to increase their stiffness, while a stock inner arch liner was adapted for a more complete look.

We all know how well carbon fiber works on a black car, so Kabe-san went DIY crazy, creating a very aggressive series of additions, like the front diffuser-slash-canards, which helps generate high levels of downforce at speed. The front fenders were then modified with a Super GT-like carbon profile, closing off the more rounded lower section of the fender, creating a slab-sided race car look. The carbon theme is completed at the rear with an RE Amemiya diffuser, carbon-Kevlar vortex generators, as well as a Sard wing, while the Advan Model T7 17-inch wheels sit flush with the angular body, further adding to the purposeful and track-oriented look of the car.

2002 mazda RX 7 type RS custom surge tank and pickup Photo 4/8   |   2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special

The attention to detail continues under the hood with the side-ported 13B, capable of developing 500 hp at 16 psi of boost pressure. To achieve this level of power, Kabe-san fitted a Trust TD07-25G turbine onto a Reaction Racing exhaust manifold and also fabricated all the aluminum piping and end tanks for the V-mounted Blitz intercooler core. Engine work was outsourced to Reaction Racing, including side porting and fitting the high-performance ceramic apex seals on the FC rotors. And for an extra squirt of power down the straightaways, Kabe-san has also added a nitrous oxide injection system, which employs a wet fogger fitted directly onto the intake pipe, right before the throttle.

With all of the usual rotary engine cooling and fueling upgrades in place, engine management used to rely solely on an Apexi PowerFC, but after the latest batch of modifications, Kabe-san installed an HKS F Con V Pro for even finer tuning control. He also seriously fortified the drivetrain, starting with an OS Giken twin-plate clutch and close-ration 5-speed gearset along with an ATS 4.7 final drive and LSD, making this RX-7 a killer on tighter tracks like Tsukuba.

2002 mazda RX 7 type RS nos nitrous oxide system Photo 5/8   |   2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special

After lowering the car on adjustable PCR dampers, Kabe-san spent some time to fine-tune the suspension geometry with Super Now tie-rod ends and pillowball links, items that add an immense amount of feel, not to mention tightening up an aging chassis. The bolt-in Saito Achieve rollcage also increases chassis stiffness immensely, while the Biot 324mm front rotors and Endless CC-R brake pad upgrade improve stopping power.

Now a purpose-built track car, comfort has been sacrificed for performance, hence the Bride Zeta III racing bucket seats. For optimal weight balance, the battery has been relocated to the passenger foot well, eliminating pretty much all of the legroom and ensuring that passenger rides aren't too high on the agenda. There are plenty of gadgets to keep even the more tech-obsessed otaku out there happy, like the Stack 8130 dash/datalogger unit mounted onto a carbon-fiber instrument panel. The custom carbon center console houses all the usual race car switches as well as the GReddy boost controller and Multi Switch System, which is used to control the nitrous oxide system.

Kabe-san's Rapt RX-7 proves that you really need to dig deep to find the best cars out there, as only an obsessed and passionate owner could spend so much time fine-tuning and developing his pride and joy. Despite him assuring us that the car is finished, we will have to drop by his shop in the future to see what other improvements he will think up next—and at the same time maybe take a look at some of the RX-7s his customers and friends drive.

2002 mazda RX 7 type RS rear left side view Photo 6/8   |   2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special

Specs & Details

'02 Mazda RX-7 Type RS

Engine: 1.3L 13B-REW two-rotor

Engine Modifications: Reaction Racing side porting, ceramic apex seals, ignition wires and exhaust manifold; FC rotors, lightweight pulleys, Trust TD07-25G turbocharger and dual oil coolers; HKS external wastegate, custom Rapt 100mm intake, front pipe, intercooler piping and intercooler end tanks; Stillway titanium exhaust system, Blitz intercooler core, Koyo radiator, custom air-separator system with two tanks, custom oil-breather tank with K&N filter, HKS Twin Power ignition system, dual Nismo BNR34 fuel pumps, custom surge tank and pickup, Sard adjustable FPR and 1,000cc primary and 850cc secondary injectors; NOS nitrous oxide wet-fogger system

Engine Management: Apexi PowerFC main ECU, HKS F-Con V Pro sub-ECU

2002 mazda RX 7 type RS 13B REW two rotor engine Photo 7/8   |   2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special

Drivetrain: OS Giken twin plate clutch, lightweight flywheel, and 5-speed close ratio gearbox, ATS LSD and 4.7 final drive

Wheels, Tires & Brakes: Advan Model T7 17x9" +29 (f) and 17x10" +25 (r) wheels, Advan Neova AD08 255/40R17 tires, Biot 324mm rotors (f/r) Endless CC-R brake pads, Wilwood brake balance adjuster

Suspension: PCR 2007 adjustable race dampers, 22 kg/mm (f) and 21 kg/mm (r) springs, Super Now tie-rod ends and pillowball control links

Interior: Saito Achieve rollcage, Bride Zeta III racing bucket seats, Personal steering wheel, custom carbon dash panel and center console, Stack 8130 datalogger/dash unit, Innovate A/F meter, custom switchgear, GReddy Profec Type-S boost controller, MSS and boost gauge; HKS Circuit Attack Counter, NOS pressure gauge, Apex PowerFC Commander, passenger foot well battery

Exterior: C-West front bumper, Rapt carbon front diffuser/canards, carbon fender panel, and cable ties for spoiler; Kazama Auto front wide fenders side skirts, and rear wide fenders; Staut carbon hood, RE Amemiya fixed light conversion, FRP rear hatch, and rear diffuser with carbon-Kevlar fins; HPI lexan windows (side and rear), Sard carbon wing

2002 mazda RX 7 type RS bride zeta III bucket seats Photo 8/8   |   2002 Mazda RX-7 Type RS - Circuit Special
By Dino Dalle Carbonare
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