Feature: In Good Company – Masaki Kitajo’s FD3S

It seems to be about every 2 years or so I have the opportunity to check in with Masaki-san.  A staple of the Attack community, Masaki’s FD has served as his test bed and company demo car for nearly a decade, and continues to evolve year after year.  I remember seeing it for the first time back in 2012 at Tsukuba during Advan’s ‘Fastest Amateur Tournament’.  Back then the car had a full FEED Afflux kit and was comparatively very mild looking.  Oh how far we’ve come…

As tame as the car once was, even back then he was consistently hitting the mid-57 second mark around TC2000; which says something about how difficult it is to gain time once you hit a certain point.  As I was able to watch the car change over the years, I also got to know the man behind the machine a bit better and became comfortable with reaching out to catch up every season.  From FEED, to REMS, to TCP Magic, the car has changed a lot since I first saw it, but Masaki has always remained steadfast in finding time in creative ways.

The 2018 season for the Craft Company FD has been a bit of a wild card.  The cars engine, which had been rebuilt last year remained untouched as it was perceived to be in good standing still.  Unfortunately, the car has been under-performing in it’s current state, and the close of 2018 will see Masaki pulling the rotary out for an entire overhaul for 2019.  The past few events haven’t seen an improvement in time for the duo, and Masaki thinks the motor is becoming tired.

So, during the rebuild, the bridgeported engine will remain the same, however a bevy of updated ancillary modifications are being put in place to ensure better reliability next year.  An entirely new fuel system is in place now, along with new engine management from Haltech.  The Haltech Elite 2500 was actually his second choice, however the team was having compatibility issues with the Motec unit they had initially chosen.  He’s also switched the traditional analog gauges inside to a single AIM MXS unit.  With both the new ECU and dash, Masaki was able to greatly clean up the wiring in the car – both saving weight, and increasing efficiency.  The car in it’s current state made a healthy, but very reasonable, 500 horsepower.  With a goal of 54 seconds in 2019 however, they made need to bump that number up a tad.

The car’s exterior remains fairly similar to last year, the TCP Magic kit being the center focus.  One small, but effective change for driving, came in the form of a wider rear wheel.  The now 11.5j rear wheel and 295 series tire, gave Masaki more stability around the track – considerably in the last sector of Tsukuba which is home to the final turn on track; the high-speed sweeper.  That small changed helped drop his 3rd sector time from 10’110 seconds on his personal best, to 9’8 seconds.  May not seem like much, but a 3rd sector under 10 seconds alludes to possible lap times in the 54 range – just what he’s looking for.

Carbon panel replacements are scattered about the car in an attempt to bring the somewhat hefty chassis’ weight down.  Tipping the scales at 1,111kg’s (~2,450 pounds), Masaki has managed to get the car to a decent fighting weight.

I was looking back at older images of this car, and came across one I took a few years ago that looked identical to this.  Same, but different in many ways.

The GT wing is mounted in a creative fashion, allowing access to the trunk area.

The front fenders from TCP have to be amongst the most aggressive, and just very good looking, of any FD body kit on the market.

A portion of the new fuel system they were out testing back in February.

While talking he had sent me this start-up video that shows a bit of the new interior setup.  The AIM MXS providing a much easier dash for engine readouts.

One topic we touched on briefly in our chat was that of aerodynamics and their role in his fight for 54’s.  While he doesn’t want to fully devote the build  to a reliance on aero, he has been playing around with smaller, more discrete designs to help achieve more downforce on the car.  Small fins for the underside of the car, similar to those on the ASM S2000, are completed and will be ready for testing in the coming month.

It’s unfortunate that this year wasn’t one to see faster times, but Masaki has always been one to be encouraged to do better.  Headed back to the drawing board will give him a chance to improve upon the failures that came to light over the Winter months.

For 2019, cutting two seconds off the time at both TC2000 and Central Circuit, is the goal.  With 2018 being a wash, I can only imagine that next season Craft Company will come back stronger than ever.