The track represents a different place for different people. Professional drivers see it as their office, the place they go to everyday to test and race with their teams with one sole objective: to win. Enthusiasts, like Dr. Wada, see it as a place in which to relax, to cultivate their passion for the automobile in a safe and legal environment. Dr. Wada, a surgeon by trade, likes to calm his nerves by taking his FD3S RX-7 to Tsukuba Circuit and driving it hard. He has been doing so ever since he got the car more than ten years ago, except as of late, things have began to get a little more serious. Partnering up with well-known tuning shop Garage Kagotani, Dr. Wada has just taken his RX-7 to the next level, ready to take the upcoming Battle Evome privateer time attack series by storm. This amateur series attracts some of the most committed enthusiasts in Japan, people so taken with the whole passion of going faster around Tsukuba, that they have created some of the fastest cars in the country. We followed Dr. Wada as he took his recently upgraded FD out at Tsukuba for a few shakedown runs.
For years, Dr. Wada entrusted his pride and joy to Garage Kagotani, a well-known name in the Japanese tuning scene, which over the years has slowly built it into the car you see today. The latest set of modifications has seen the side-ported 13B drop the stock and restrictive twin turbo set-up for a Trust T78-33D turbocharger and external wastegate. This will enhance the true potential of the freshly rebuilt engine ready to take on the series of Battle Evome track days. Kagotani-san and his mechanics are on-hand to assist Dr. Wada as he gradually gets used to the savage power delivery the 13B now supplies. A few laps out on track and the times are already impressive, hovering around 1-minute flat, with the car feeling a little lively around the tighter corners.
The jump over to a single turbo set up called for a number of modifications, starting with the special HKS exhaust manifold and front pipe, pieces that Kagotani fabricated. Exhaust gasses are channeled to the rear using a Garage Kagotani titanium exhaust system, which does away with any catalytic converters, seeing as how the car is used only on track. Connecting the compressor outlet of the T78 to the HPI intercooler is all custom piping, which on the engine side, brings the compressed and cooled charge to the free-flowing GReddy intake elbow. Here it meets with the fuel delivered by the 1000 cc SARD injectors, two on the primary circuit and two more on the secondary. With boost set at 1.1 kg/cm2 and the HKS F Con V Pro handling fuel and ignition maps, the 13B can crank out 500 HP, which with only 1,150 kg to haul around is a very good number. The Koyo racing radiator and HPI oil cooler help keep the engine cool, while a special Garage Kagotani radiator shroud was constructed to help channel as much air as possible through the radiator and intercooler cores. Dr. Wada didn't want to take any chances with the transmission, insisting that the stock box be upgraded with a Quaife 6-speed sequential, something that didn't exactly come very cheap! But with its bullet-like shifts, this kind of transmission is what you need when going for fast lap times. In addition, an Exedy twin-plate clutch and Cusco RS LSD were specially set up by Kagotani for hard track use.
As Dr. Wada came into the pits, he kept asking Kagotani-san to stiffen the rear suspension as it was proving to be too soft, allowing the car to squat under the higher power the T78 provides. A few clicks of the Aragosta Type-SS 3-way adjustable dampers and Dr. Wada was then able to lean more on the car as he exited even the tightest of corners. SARD front and rear stabilizer bars help inject a welcome stiffness into the aging shell. With 500 hp on tap, Dr. Wada realized that a brake upgrade would definitely come in handy as the stock calipers, RDD discs and PFC pad combination he normally uses are feeling the pressure. With the track session over in late afternoon, we were able to grab the car for a few shots in front of the Tsukuba garages.
Here we had a chance to take a closer look at the aesthetic changes that were carried out to the RX-7, which were mostly all lifted from the Garage Kagotani catalogue. The Type 02 Kagotani bumper has been joined with a very evident series of track-oriented canards and lip spoiler to help give the car much more front end downforce through the faster corners. To help shave weight off, the stock pop-up lights were eliminated and replaced with RE-Amemiya fixed reflectors for a more purposeful look. The unpainted Garage Kagotani carbon hood is there to not only shave weight off the front of the car but to help get rid of hot air from the engine bay, especially now with that T78 turbo. A wider look was achieved through the use of Garage Kagotani front fenders and RE-Amemiya rear overfenders, which blend down to also form the side skirts. More carbon parts were added, like the Kagotani side skirt blades and rear diffuser to help keep the car more stable at high speed. And what would a car of this caliber be without an obligatory GT-wing, again courtesy of Garage Kagotani. On the wheel front, Dr. Wada chose lightweight Volk Racing CE28N in 9.5Jx18-inch sizes, wrapped in sticky Yokohama Advan A050 semi-slick rubber.
Inside, the RX-7 has a definite Spartan feel, since anything that wasn't needed to go fast was removed. A Cusco rollcage with optional sidebars helps inject a little more stiffness and protection into the whole package, helping Dr. Wada feel a little bit safer when he is sitting in his carbon-Kevlar Recaro SPG seat. The center console has been modified to house the A'PEXi gauges, while modules like the HKS Circuit Attack Counter and Boost Controller are fixed within easy reach. The NGK A/F meter was temporarily mounted on top of the dashboard to monitor the engine throughout this first test out in Tsukuba.
Dr. Wada hopes to break into the 58-second at Tsukuba in the upcoming Battle Evome sessions, helping to make his RX-7 one of the fastest, privately owned, street-registered FDs in Japan, proving that at times, passion can lead to obsession!
Power 500hp at 1.1kg/cm2 boost; 59-second lap time (Tsukuba Circuit)
Engine Side-ported 13B rotary engine; HKS exhaust manifold; Trust/GReddy T78-33D turbo, intake pipe and lightweight pulleys; SARD Type J external wastegate, 280lph fuel pump and 1000cc primary with secondary injectors; HPI oil cooler and cone type air filter; Garage Kagotani front pipe, cat delete, cooling panel, oil catch tank, titanium exhaust and custom intercooler piping; Koyo aluminum radiator
Drivetrain Quaife 6-speed sequential transmission; Exedy twin plate clutch and lightweight flywheel; Garage Kagotani-spec Cusco RS LSD
Engine management HKS F-Con VPro, Circuit Attack Timer and EVC boost controller
Footwork & Chassis Aragosta Type-SS 3-way adjustable dampers; Hyperco springs; SARD front and rear stabilizer bars; Cusco bolt-in 4-point rollcage & side bars
Brakes RDD front discs; PFC brake pads
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" Volk Racing CE28N; Yokohama A050 265/35R18 tires
Exterior Garage Kagotani Type-02 front bumper, front lip spoiler and canards, carbon aero hood, wide front fenders, carbon aero side skirts, rear carbon diffuser, diffuser fin set, carbon 3D GT-wing; RE Amemiya rear overfenders; Craft Square carbon side mirrors
Interior stripped-out interior; Recaro SPG carbon-Kevlar bucket seat; OMP racing belts; Sparco alcantara steering wheel; custom instrument console; A'PEXi gauges (water temp, oil temp, exhaust temp and boost); NGK air/fuel meter; lightweight doors