Aug 26, 2015

Fine Tuned For Joy | Razi's Mazda RX8

Many times I’ve been meeting some hardcore track junkies who take their track oriented toys quite seriously. The ones we usually notice are the ones that have the long list of power mods, the rare and expensive self-tuned coilovers or the FIA spec everything from harnesses to roll cage. On the other hand, there are those who just want to look for a way to drive hard on the track without burning a hole in their pocket. Majority of them running stock motors, they focus largely on fine tuning the handling and other basic aspects of the car.

Another example of this kind of tuning can be seen on Razi’s Mazda RX8 with its almost bone stock look that can be deceiving. But unlike the looks it portray, when you hear it coming down in a back alley in Petaling Jaya or down the back straight at Sepang, the unmistakable rotary roar echoes without any intention of keeping it down. There we know this car may be basic but it was tuned to take to the track.

When Razi first bought the RX8 in 2010, he only bought the car for the sake of taking it as a daily driven car. He decided to go with the RX8 at the time purely for the looks and also since it’s a rotary engine sports car that can seat four people. As a married man, it was just perfect to bring the wife and kids along. But like any typical guy who mods his car, Razi started taking the car for occasional track days two years later. Nowadays, every mod that is on the car is for making the car perform better on track and nothing else. 

While shooting the RX8 on location, just like every other car shot, my favourite time would be popping the hood open to see what goodies are loaded on the motor. But when the hood was opened, to my shock, the engine cover was still there and there was nothing aftermarket in sight. When asked, Razi explains that the cover actually helps channel the air from the grille then routed downwards to the motor. Thus, the cause of the heating issues experienced by those who remove the cover he explains. 

But despite the bone stock motor, Razi decided to use some low tech engine management to good use. The RX8’s motor runs with a piggyback ECU with an Ichiten AFR controller. The function of this controller is basically for fine tuning the fuel and ignition timing of the motor for each sector of the rev range. The advantage this controller has over an electronic unit is that the tuner can fine tune how the engine runs on the fly without a use of a laptop. Even though it is a basic form of tuning but it makes the job of switching and setting new fuel maps such a simple task. 

The RX8 is well known for its balanced handling in the corners. But to fully utilize the handling capability, BC Racing coilovers are used to replace the stock suspension. Stiff rings and corner weight balancing was done to further improve the handling performance of the car. With all this and other mods, it wouldn’t be much use without a decent set of tires to really put the power down so Razi selected a set of Yokohama Advan AD08R tires to provide grip needed. 

The end result is a reliable car that can be taken to the track every now and then. Not only a car put together for the sake of modding, but something that can decently perform and gives a sheer pleasure to the driver. This RX8 also holds a personal best lap time at Sepang of 2 minutes and 43 seconds which is not quite good for an FR car in Sepang that runs on a stock motor. This gives a great example that fine tuning can go a long way for real world results.

Owner: Razi
Model: 2003 Mazda RX8 SE3P
Location: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

1.3L 13B RENESIS Rotary
K&N Replacement Air Filter
Pivot Fan Controller
Mazmart Water Pump
Samco Coolant Hose
Walbro 255 Fuel Pump
RE Amemiya Exhaust Headers
3-Inch Custom Straight Flow Exhaust
Speed Limiter Delete
Rev Limiter to 9500 RPM
NGK Spark Plug Cables
Ignition Coil Booster (19V)
Oversized Eccentric Shaft Oil Release Valve
Ichiten Air Fuel Controller

6 speed manual
Final Drive 4.77
ORC Single Racing Clutch
Autoexe Clutch Lines
Axialflow Shortshifter
2 way LSD

BC Racing Coilovers
Stiff Ring Chassis Mounts
Corner Weight Balancing
Project U 4-pot Brake caliper
Slotted Rotors
Super Circuit Steel Braided Brake Lines

Volk Racing CE28N 17 x 8.5jj Offset +30 (all round)
Yokohama Advan AD08R 255/40/17 (all round)

Mazdaspeed Front Lip
Mazdaspeed Side Skirt
Mazdaspeed Rear Bumper
Autoexe Carbon Fiber Spoiler

Works Engineering Fuel Pressure Gauge
Works Engineering Oil Pressure Gauge
Air Fuel Ratio Analizer     


Aug 10, 2015

RAUH-Welt Begriff | Building Miyabi

When one sees a Porsche, one will see a car that was meant to be driven at speed, handle a corner effortlessly and to be driven as often as possible. The German icon might generally be the same but there are many varieties of styles and characteristics that it comes in. A builder from Japan named Akira Nakai is known for his take on the iconic 911 with his wide body creations on late model Porsches. These creations are made under the name of Rauh-Welt Begriff.

Rauh-Welt is a German word that means “Rough World”. The name came to mind about 22 years ago when Nakai-san started driving German cars. Three years later, he finally set up his workshop in Japan that is dedicated to building these unique Porsches. But it was in the year 2011 when the shop was finally started to get the world’s attention. Even for myself personally, I first knew about Rauh-Welt when I read about Nakai-san’s personal Porsche 930 known as Stella Artois on a Super Street Magazine in 2011.

There have been four previous builds in Malaysia which happened in Johor but I never had the chance to see it myself. Most of the time, I hear about Nakai-san’s eye on perfection through a third person’s experience. Now since it finally took place at The Garage KL in Ampang, I decided to take a full three days there since for me, I have to see it for myself to believe it.

When he touched down in KL with his close friend, Christian Coujin, the guy who brought RWB to Malaysia, he took a quick look at the Porsche 964 cabriolet before getting to work. Only equipped with a crooked measuring tape, Nakai-san marked up the cut points without any drawings and guidelines. Every cut and seam was all done by free hand with an electric hacksaw. It was one of those times that I had to put the camera down to see myself.

During the downtime, I was lucky to talk and make friends with Nakai-san and ask him from top to bottom just to have a picture of what goes on in his mind. Despite the intimidating, straight-face appearance he had, he was one of the friendliest people I have met. It was as if he knew exactly what to do for whatever set up all in his head. But for Nakai-san, it is important for the car to be built to be fast.

The name of the cars he build is not something that he thinks about, it is always named on the spot. It could be something he remembered, music he listens to, or even from the area the owner lives in. Totally spontaneous, this Riveriera Blue cabriolet received the name Miyabi which means “elegance”, “refinement” or “courtliness” in modern Japanese. But it can also be referred to a “heart-breaker”.

It was a great experience to meet and make friends with some unique characters that were at the build like the guys from RWB Malaysia, Terror Garage, Art Of Speed, The Garage KL, and other enthusiast a like from many corners of the globe including the owners of this masterpiece. Of course, it was also a chance for me to get to know Nakai-san more. It was an experience that even autographs and pictures can’t compare to.  Nakai-san is genuinely a unique character.