It happens more often than not that I end up in the right place at the right time. Only a few days back, I randomly bumped into Amemiya san at the same spot where we were waiting to meet people. It was an incredible coincidence but a timely one that led to this article. You see, Amemiya san told me that, after all the issues and false starts to their WTAC time attack campaign, they were finally ready to shake down the world famous Hurricane FD at Fuji Speedway. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to witness that…
**Remember to click on the images for Hi-Res 1280px goodness!**
And so today I was out at FSW bright and early to witness a small piece of JDM tuning history. Amemiya san isn’t the most familiar figure in Time Attack circles but his development of the Hurricane FD certainly lends itself to the seriousness and attention to detail to making that notion a thing of the past. Having dozens of years in the tuning industry certainly helps and when he counts from 1 to 10, he never skips the number 7.
On the drive up in the surprisingly good Mazda CX5, the clouds started to darken and then the rain soon followed and I had concerns that the entire day would be conducted in wet conditions but mercifully, the clouds lifted and sunshine beamed down onto the circuit not long after, with ambient temperatures then hovering for most of the morning and afternoon in the 30’s. Conditions for the semi slick FD now looking totally ideal. And the FD wasn’t alone…
Accompanying the blue beast was the black and carbon fiber clad S2K from Top Fueled/Voltex. It had been a very long time since I’d seen the car, possibly as far as 5 years at Tsukuba if my memory serves me correctly but it had lost none of its aggressive purpose; even if its appearance did look slightly tired and worn from years of heavy track abuse. It was sporting a large upgrade to its aero parts and as you’ll see in the post ahead, they are all designed to provide “Function” at the expense of superfluous, and irrelevant, “Form”.
Speaking of form, the drivers that were assigned the duties to put both cars through their paces were definitely in top shape. On hand, and doing double duties in todays testing for both RE Amemiya and Voltex was NOB Taniguchi, who told me that, “…at this stage, (he) will most likely be driving both cars at the WTAC.”
Accompanying the well known all rounder was Super GT driver Hiroki Yoshida, fresh from a bout in Malaysia at the wheel of a Mosler MP900.
While Taniguchi alternated between the Honda and the Mazda, Yoshida was assigned testing for the FD only. I asked him if he was going Down Under but he replied that, “…at this stage I don’t think so but I want to go!” What I can confirm is that Taniguchi is almost 100% certain to do a “Tarzan” at this years WTAC for both teams.
In true Japanese style, the pace was furious from the moment the transporters were unloaded and the pit garages were a hive of activity. They picked a good day to go testing too, with only a handful of other cars taking advantage of the NS4 track sessions that are regularly held at FSW. One of them was this drop dead gorgeous Lamborghini Super Trofeo Gallardo.
Incredibly, I’d seen this car on the way up to the circuit at a rest stop earlier that morning and wondered… “..is he going to Fuji…?” Turns out he was and it’s great to see a guy just head to the track by himself on a quiet Friday morning in a car worth well over half a million dollars and give it an absolute caning without a care in the world for who sees him. This is just the way it should be done.
I was the only foreign media person there today which was a small surprise but what didn’t come as unexpected was the presence of the Option 2 media team, who will be making the pilgrimage to Australia along with a team of us from 7Tune. It was nice to catch up with a few familiar faces going on a year since the last event.
What’s the matter?! Did something happen to your equipment? 😉
They were everywhere today shooting both video and stills, giving interviews and generally having a great time and I wished I had a few clones of myself to get the same angles! That said, I have some HD video to upload after this post so you can count on not only seeing but also hearing the fury of these untamed track weapons and their surroundings.
Before the first session was to start, I took a little time to look back over a car I hadn’t seen since last years TAS where it was unveiled to the publics boggled minds. “RE Amemiya?? Time Attack…? WTF?” Yes to all but the last one. If anyone can combine vast skills in Super GT racing and use them to great effect over a single timed lap, it’s RE Amemiya.
The FD is meticulously built and has received further modification since its incarnation at the TAS. There’s a lot to go through here so bare with me. It’s a tightly packed machine; very neat in its tolerances for ducts that supply air to the cooling units for the oil, water and intake charges and sporting an ubiquitous V-Mount set up. The blue color scheme is obviously gorgeous and the new addition of M7 to the fold of sponsors has now added more than a dash of Malaysian green ( in more than one case ).
The engine is a turbocharged triple rotor 20B and via the Trust T88-34D turbine, develops over 680hp. Because this was the worlds first official shakedown for the car, the FD was running with a safe tune of just over 600hp to ensure that vital mechanical components remained as reliable as possible throughout the day.
Amemiya san then applied his extensive knowledge of aerodynamics, honed over years of competition in Super GT, and fabricated a kit that resembles the old FD driven in the GT300 class. I had to admit that next to the Voltex S2K, the FD looked rather tame in the aerodynamic department and certainly tamer than previous offerings like the R-Magic and Panspeed FD’s. Appearances, however, can be deceptive.
The car was then added to with a multi plane carbon fiber rear diffuser to help channel air from the floor of the car through the rear, helping the car to stabilize in high speed corners.
There’s the obvious addition of a monstrous rear wing assembly…
…and removable hatch…
…that conceals the fuel pump and surge tank assembly.
The front aero assembly is surprisingly modest but I was informed that further upgrades are scheduled for the car and this is a good thing since the car is set to ship out to Australia in just over a months time. They are really cutting it fine, time wise.
The green shoes are 18 inch Enkei items mated to ADVAN A050 “GS” grade 295/30R18 S rubber. Both teams were using the same tires as they are both sponsored by Advan.
Behind these super sticky rubber hoops is a mix and match set of AP Racing front 6 pot calipers and ventilated and slotted discs..
…with RE Amemiya calipers and 2 piece rotors with spacers out back. Suspending the braking package is a very clever set up that consists of Quantum “Remote Coil-overs” that have the neat and advantageous ability to adjust ride height on the fly.
Inside everything has been extensively modified for the driver to function and remain safe, including the ability to slam through the Hewland 6 speed sequential transmission.
With the first run about to get underway, there was a sudden and intense burst of activity in both pits as both Top Fuel and RE Amemiya mechanics worked furiously to ready the cars for the 10am session. Then the moment came….
It was time to set out for the Hurricane’s maiden laps…
The FD did a sighter lap and then came back in with a few words exchanged on the balance of the car between Yoshida and Amemiya san. But it was soon back out for some serious time setting.
And over the next few sessions the RE Amemiya and Voltex/Top Fuel teams worked on the times. They came down gradually and by the end of the second session, were into the 1:46’s and 1:45’s. The Voltex S2K which had managed to get into the low 1:45’s but both teams knew that a lot more time needed to be found. There was a long way to go but the signs were encouraging. To give you a direct comparison, the Cyber Evo, around this very circuit, managed a 1:41. 5 seconds over a single lap is an absolute lifetime…The positive thing about the Hurricane charge was that it had already managed to find nearly 2 seconds in time over only a handful of laps. Things were looking positive…
…until the Power Steering pump decided to act up, overheating its fluid and forcing both Taniguchi and Yoshida to pit sequentially because of the problem.
As if on cue, a scrum of mechanics and media personnel burst over to the car to assess the situation.
The pit crew worked feverishly to cool the pump down with mobile water spray bottles.
Taniguchi looked on concerned as did Amemiya san. As did we all, actually. The last thing any of us wanted was for the Hurricane’s day to end prematurely.
Things suddenly became incredibly tense as concerns were assessed but with the PS oil temperatures stabilized, the Hurricane FD was able to continue. It ran stably for the next 2 sessions but times were still fluctuating between the 45’s and 46’s while the team worked on spring rates and brake balances, assessing every detail of each run with telemetry and onboard footage.
All in all the debut outing for the RE Amemiya Hurricane FD was an overall success but the team know that time is against them. The same goes for every team competing in this years WTAC at the renowned Eastern Creek Raceway on August 10th and 11th. There’s absolutely no doubt that everyone in the RE Amemiya team will be pushing like crazy to make sure the car is ready to rock.
Before I head over to the Voltex Pit for the next in this 2 part expose, let me share a very special moment with you all…
When “The Hurricane” returned to the pits, spewing power steering oil from the pump, it left a trail on its way into the pit garage. As I looked on, the team quickly moved to recover the car and began to fix the issue ( which was not serious ) but it was then that I watched as Amemiya san, one of the most revered rotary specialists alive today, picked up a rag and a can of fluid cleaner….
…and begin scrubbing away at the pit lane where the line of power steering fluid had been left by the car.
Taniguchi san shared Amemiya san’s concerns but could only look on. I was then reminded how fortunate I am to be allowed in to this tight knit circle of professionals to witness such things and the privilege to be able to show them to you, the global readership of 7Tune. None of these experiences have been lost on me nor will any of them ever be.
I was humbled but understood just why Amemiya san was doing this… In those few moments, I watched one of the greatest men in the Japanese tuning industry show that he is not above getting his hands and knees dirty by not only doing what is right for himself and his team but for the good of everyone else in the industry including his sponsors, his fans and those who are connected to them.
Motorsport and Japan. I’ll love you both until the day I die.
Words and Photos – Adam Zillin
7Tune. The ULTIMATE JDM Experience Since 2005.