Only Rotaries Aloud | Seven’s Day 2019 @ Blyton Park

Home sweet home. After landing back in the UK from the dreamy trip to Japan, as per usual the post-holiday blues hit me and lingered for a week or two. To add insult to injury, I saw the 7th of July coming around the corner and that only means one thing to any Mazda madhead. I have featured, briefly in past posts, my 7’s Day experiences when I attended the meeting held in Umihotaru P.A. on Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line. This year, I chose not to stay in Japan long enough to witness the twilight spectacle put on by the automotive underdog cult. I mean, I probably would have, but I’d come back with zero holidays left to take from work. In retrospect, it could have been worthwhile, especially after seeing all the coverage online of the ‘Rotary Spirit’ event staged in the paddock of the great Fuji Speedway.

I remember coming across a track day being organized by the UK’s FD Owner’s Club online, and since I wanted to get a firsthand look at what the small but strongly dedicated community have on offer here in my home country, I thought I’d swing on by Blyton Park on the 5th of July.

My love for this chassis is eternal. Stock or modified (tastefully), the only way it will age is if Mazda reintroduce the masses to a production version of that RX-Vision concept unveiled back in 2015’s Tokyo Motor Show, but even if that does materialize, the FD3S RX-7’s legacy will remain in history.

My first trip out to Japan was unforgettably a special one, mainly due to the sleepless night before I got to pilot a rental RX-7. Its one thing reading about a car that leaves you in awe and watching countless videos of the machine being described by motor journalists as the one of the purest sportscars ever built, but to actually do it yourself is another thing entirely. Yeah, it was a stock example, bar the Tein coilovers and RE-Amemiya exhaust system, but for my 20-year-old self, it was plenty.

Before I turn this spread into a essay on why the RX-7 is the greatest production car to ever come into existence, let’s get back to the sights I saw on my visit to FDOC’s track event.

Upon arrival mid-afternoon, all the eye could see was more than a few RX-8s, and whilst that car is a great Mazda in its own right, I had a mini panic-attack thinking I’d turned up on the wrong date or something. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, as I got closer to trackside, there was a decent lineup of FDs all raring to get out and kause a ruckus.

I did briefly contemplate buying an RX-8 at the time I was planning on saying farewell to my MX-5. I took an late R3 model for a test drive, and whilst it is a nice platform that could act as both daily driver and track toy, something was amiss. I am pretty certain its a universal problem with these “newer” cars, that tend to target the wider audience. I am fully aware that this is what progression looks like, and they’ll never make them like they used to, but I think it was the over-refinement of the RX-8 in comparison to my MX-5 at the time, that repelled me from going in that direction. Whilst current prices of RX-8s are quite attractive, with sellers practically giving them away, I still wouldn’t compromise; driving experience is why I don’t take public transport, the vehicle has to have that ability to make you want to keep on powering on, no matter the kost.

Totally unrelated, but I may aswell share a few snaps I got of this non-Mazda that turned up to the party (with an invitation, probably). British sportscars are known to have that distinct character and its good to see the likes of Lotus, and of course Jaguar and Mclaren, still in the running.

White-on-red is a suited look on this 360 Cup edition of the Exige. I find it funny how Lotus still use the Toyota 2GR-FE V6 engine, that’s applied to billions of other Toyota/Lexus chassis, and then we have the new Supra reaching out to BMW for a heart transplant which is in my opinion, distasteful, but I won’t get into all of that…

Starting off the highlights of 7’s Day, is this pearlescent flake yellow FD. This early Efini variant was sporting a 99-Spec front bumper with custom front lip, sideskirts, Ganador mirrors, Veilside(?) tailight housing bar, and some of those Rota things at all four corners. It sure did brighten up the scene, but I never got chance to see it out ripping the tarmac, so these static shots are all I got.

Matt’s kouki Pure White RX-7 was almost twinning with another’s of the FDOC crew. Wearing those Work CRs finished in a Dark Chrome colour set off the look of this machine, which is what I would consider a perfect example of the ‘OEM Plus’ style. Rear diffuser, carbon front splitter, and a NACA-ducted bonnet accentuate this fine specimen. But something NEEDS to be done with that ride height!

Another FD sitting on some of Work Wheels’ finest, which was also equipped with an interesting custom vented bonnet. Black on bronze is a no-brainer in terms of colour pairing, hence why the Demio of mine wears my old MX-5’s shoes! Nothing krazy about the exterior of this RX, apart from the GT style wing, yet the single turbo converted 13B inside was making it round with some pace from what I remember.

This is the “other” white FD I was referring to previously. Owned by Roy, whom manages and organizes the events for the club, it is a stunningly clean FD but at the same time gets enough of a leg-stretch out on the track. It’s always the details that katch my eye when it comes to seeing a car for the first time. I reckon its because I have become sick of the latest trends, finding far too many builds online and at shows that have the same cookie-cutter philosophy applied to them, just because it looks good and is easy to do since every other man and his dog are putting their car “together” in the same style. I digress, but I believe the RX-7 is one of those chassis that has the natural ability to look timeless with an unmatchable aura in factory form. Anyway, one note I’d like to make is the fact that the engine bay was clean enough to eat dinner off, but that crack in the radiator’s fibreglass shroud! Maybe Roy has a new replacement on order (we hope)…

The day wasn’t short on black FDs, and this flame-spitting one in particular was getting its fair share of laps in around the circuit. This wore, what I would call, a safe and klassik look, outfitted with a 99-spec wing, drooping RE-AMEMIYA exhaust, and a unique taillight conversion.

Nas’ RX-7 was easy on the eye with not too much to take in: OEM front splitter, Racing Beat twin-tailpipe exhaust, rear lip spoiler, riding on a set of the klassik Desmond Regamaster wheels in matte black.

This work in progress belongs to owner James, and whilst in appearance it is seemingly basic at the (that) moment, those Enkei RS05RR wheels mean business and certainly make for a good start to this FD’s life. The majority of the guys on the day had wingless cars, which is a look that didn’t do it for me in the past, but after spending some time looking at and shooting them fly by, it does make the car more streetable to some degree.

Stu of RotorTorque was whipping his white RX-7 around Blyton with some frequency and was looking good whilst doing it. I properly endorse the mismatched wheels look aswell, with flat gold Advan AVS Model 6 upfront, and a pair of burnt orange Ultralites working in the rear. Can’t go wrong with that rear GT wing courtesy of Voltex Racing.

Jack’s heavily modified, street-sleeper of an RX-7, was built with hard track use in mind. The exterior is indeed telling of that purpose, with it being hunkered down on another mismatched pair of aftermarket rollers, custom smoothed widearches on the back, RE-Amemiya rear diffuser, aftermarket vented bonnet, and sleek fixed headlight assemblies. I unfortunately did not get any interior shots, but the cabin was just as serious, I can assure you.

Closing out this post, we have a guest entrant who I missed the chance at seeing put some rubber down, but these still shots of the zenki Silvia S14 200SX will have to suffice. The owner told me the rear wing, which baffled me as soon as I spotted it, is borrowed from a DC5 Integra Type-R. Weirdly looks at home on the decklid of an FR Nissan.

There’s your lot for this one, and I hope that it is now proven to you that rotaries can blast around a hot track all day, and then cope with a drive home. Not one trailer or recovery truck made an appearance so all that gas you’ve heard coming from the naysayers who can’t stand to see an underdog bark loud, redirect them to this post.

This event will be one of many and I hope the FDOC emsemble make it out to more circuits and exemplify how usable and capable the greatest sportscar to exist, truly is.

Thanks for the visit!

UK Time Attack Championship Rd.1 | So[u]lo Kampaign

So, here we go, my first visit to the ‘mini-Nurburgring’, where I got to be on the other side of the fence as a spectator of the first round of the UK Time Attack Championship.

As a “genre” of motorsport, time attack is without a doubt my favourite. I have always been the type of person who would rather spend countless numbers of laps making virtual rounds on Tsukuba Circuit in Gran Turismo’s Time Trial mode, as opposed to battling the blind AI on Single Player campaign. The sport is literally self-improvement & development in the most definitive sense. The ego is made to take a back seat, okay even if you are technically competing against other drivers, the primary challenge is yourself and bettering your own abilities. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the desire for wheel-to-wheel racing, and watching drivers chase the lead like there’s no tomorrow can be as exciting and dramatic, but something does lack when I see F1 or Touring Cars on televsion. Maybe its the fact the cars look and drive very similarly due to the strict regulations; then again that could be a fundamental aspect of motorsport where its all about the man/woman behind the wheel and less about the vehicle. Time Attack, to me, exhibits the ultimate balance between “man and machine”. Self-expression is just as important as exercising your physical and mental strength and prowess over the opponents.

For the most part of my life as a car enthusiast, I have been pretty much oblivious of the UK’s series, even though it has been running since 2006. Maybe it was just me being bias towards the scene out in Japan, and neglecting any interest of the motorsport right here in my country of residence. In order to get myself out of that prejudiced rut, I decided to head out to the Cadwell Park the first May Day Monday of this month and give Time Attack here in the UK a fair chance.

Keep scrolling for the snaps I kaptured with my new Sigma tele-lens. This post is going to have more structure than previous in terms of gallery layout, so enjoy!

I arrived slightly later than I should have, mid-morning was when the 20 minute practice sessions started for the top tier classes (Clubman/Pocket Rocket – Club – GT3/Pro, in that sequential order) so I shot over to trackside straightaway, starting with the Hall Bends section and then working my way to Gooseneck and Mansfield. It did rain on and off throughout the day, which wasn’t nice and I didn’t fancy getting my new-to-me used lens ruined so I cut the day short whilst ensuring I got some worthwhile photos.

This deep teal EF9 Civic caught my eye in an instant, wearing a custom splitter and sideskirt combination and boot-mounted wing, it certainly looked the part. To top it off it had a set of the undisputedly greatest Japanese wheel set of all time: RAYS Volk Racing TE37. Passenger windscreen-wiper delete hints at the seriousness of this car, shedding any weight where possible. It is a good job Chris (the owner/driver, who journeyed from his home in North Wales to compete) kept his side’s wiper fitted for the showers later in the day.

An uncommon sight for time-attack is the middle-child of the “2nd-gen” Nissan Skyline trio. The R33, particularly in stock form, was always the odd-looker out of the bunch, even the GT-R model with its aggressive perhaps messy front bumper. Recently, however, it is growing on me, and when done right (which is a rarity) the R33 Skyline is a tough-looking car. Need inspiration? Go ahead and Google Nismo’s 400R which in my view is how the standard GT-R ought to have been specced from Nissan’s factory. Failing that, search ‘R33 GTR LM’ and feast your eyes on that.

This rear-wheel-drive Skyline you see here actually finished 3rd in the Club 2WD class with a best lap done in 1:39:030, faster than Porsche’s 997 GT3 RS!

A wild roadster appears. I will never know how Honda pulled this timeless look off with the S2000 back in 1999. This even wilder J’s Racing-widebody donning car with a turbocharged F20C under the bonnet shooting out well over 400bhp, was worth the entry price in my opinion.

Continuing on with the Honda theme, this FK8 from Dream Automotive will hopefully inspire future generations of time-attackers. I do wonder how far Honda will go with the Type-R moniker and concept; will they venture into new hybrid territory with the current NSX? Personally, I want to see the next NSX-R without all that unnecesscary weight of the battery and motors, something along the lines of a Super GT racer for the road. Are you listening, Honda?…

With a lot of Lancer Evolutions dominating in time attack all over the globe, it makes sense to opt for the chassis with strong reputation. My favourite of the ones I saw on the day has got to be the AKB Racing Evo IX recording a 1:33:264 ending up 2nd in class, but 1st in my book for styling, no doubt. Although, the HKS livery on the white Evo V competing in Clubman class was nicely executed, both visually and competitively as it came out on top with a time of 1:39:842. Rally machines reign supreme wherever they go I suppose.

Interestingly styled R32 GTR was pacing around Cadwell. I like the centre-mounted single wiper, symmetry in the rear aswell with the dual exhaust tailpipes.

Unfortunately, I failed to get any shots of the front of this EK Civic, but I can reassure you, it was just as aggressive as the rear. I reckon you can’t not see this chassis doing rounds at any given track event where road cars are running. It’s like the front wheel drive MX5!

Not only are these rare on the roads here in the UK, but this has got to be the first Lexus ISF I have seen on a track! It didn’t smash any records but I’m sure the driver was having a ball (in comfort) sending it.

This super saloon was almost Japan-turned-Germany, as the premium marque attempted to send a counter manoeuvre to all Euro and USA 4-door blitzers. I remember when it was launched in 2007 and subsequntly featured on GT5 Prologue on the Playstation 3, and as I was flying around the Nordschleife I shifted into 6th, then 7th… and then 8th gear, my mind was blown! 8-speed automatic transmission?! I am sure it was only the E60 M5 that came out around the same time with 7 gears, but now its pretty casual to see 9 or even 10-speed auto-transmissions in production cars. Lexus claim to have done this to successively bypass the U.S. market’s Gas Guzzler tax by squeezing every possible drop of fuel efficiency.

A fairly serious Nissan 350Z was able to lap 1:37 flat around the track that day which is impressive with all its weight. It is definitely a capable machine when set up correctly.

A Bentley Continental GT3 car stormed the track with all its mighty V8 grunt.

I don’t like to toot my own trumpet, but I will say that I took my MX5 around Cadwell faster than this NA did. So yeah, I am race driver… Note: it was wet so I guess my boasting doesn’t matter since my lap was on a dry, hot summer’s day.

This Ford Escort Cosworth stopped a few metres away; if it didn’t I would have been flattened. For some these cars are crowd-pleasers; must have been a Mustang driver HAHA.

Here are some shots of the non-Japanese motors that I didn’t want to discard because they turned out quite good after editing.

A few carpark finds…

… and thats your lot for an intro to UK Time Attack from my perspective. Apart from the naff British weather it was enjoyable to be able to get out and experience the event and see it for what it is; drivers pushing the envelope and setting out to wring the potential out of their cars and pour it out on the tarmac.

The race was paired up with the Modified Live car show on the same day at Cadwell Park which I have more of in the pipeline. For now, I will leave you with a couple of shots of this Rocket Bunny FD3S.