Feature: Amir Bentatou – The RS Future K20 NSX

There is no doubt that the shear excitement of driving a purpose-built race car on the edge is enough for any driver to justify the money and work that gets put into building it.  Although, surprisingly there are very few people that understand the actual amount of work that goes into building a race car; Amir Bentatou is not one of those people.

For years, Amir’s name was synonymous with either one of two things; his Porsche 911 (to which he owes his IG handle to – @that911), or his record breaking M3.  While the Porsche had always been looked at as a life-long build, it was behind the wheel of the M3 that Amir spent the majority of his time.  In fact, when I first got to know Amir, he had given me a ride in the M3 at Willow Springs and I was able to experience first hand the type of driving it took to break records.  The car itself wasn’t some fully built, high powered machine, but rather more akin to a tailored precision instrument.  It still had it’s interior, and the motor was left relatively untouched aside from cams and simple bolt-ons, but the magic was in the setup – a place where Amir had found his niche.  Being able to acquire a lot of seat time in that car was key for their success, and the pair would eventually go on to set a new record at every track in Southern California during the 2014 time attack season.  Looking back now, as triumphant as he was, this time in Amir’s life was but a stepping stone on the path he now walks.  With his days still occupied as a service writer at one of LA’s top ranked BMW garages, he has slowly begun shifting his focus to RS Future; a company Amir has founded that pulls focus to efficient aerodynamic solutions and data management.  Centered around this change in profession is a project that he has been working on for the better part of two years.  A project that capitalizes on his accumulated knowledge and desire to advance.

The RS Future K20-NA1.

The NSX does a few things well; great aero, good chassis…but it is not so light, and doesn’t make great power.  I wanted to add power without adding weight.  I set a target max power level (750whp) and evaluated the C, J, and K series engines.  The K20 made the most sense; reliable power at less weight.”

On paper, the concept of a K20 powered NSX is a fairly reasonable notion, but executing that choice came with it’s fair share of issues.  As many parts on the car have to be one-off, you can imagine that there was a good amount of trial and error involved in getting it to the stage it’s at now.  However, considering that on the car’s most recent shakedown this past weekend he broke into the 1’21 second range at Willow Springs, we can assume he’s on the right track (pun intended).  We have a bad habit of only seeing the present results without thinking of the work it took to get there; more easily put, perseverance is a trait not lost on Amir.
In a push to get the car finished for Super Lap Battle 2018, Amir and Kristian Wong from Battlecraft worked tirelessly day and night.  The car was finished during the first day of Super Lap Battle 2018; unfortunately with no testing prior.  The process saw the duo pulling the engine 3 times and the transmission twice in the span of 4 weeks in order to work through issues that kept spawning. Kristian tuned the car the night before the event, and the remaining pieces were installed during the first day of the event.  To add to the grief, all of our Amir’s hot laps were stopped due to issues with competitors and he was never able to put down a representative lap.  For the team it felt like a small success for getting the car running for the second day of the event despite the constant issues, but a failure because of the outcome.  Last years struggles have been a driving force in getting the car ready and in fighting form for Super Lap Battle this year.

 

The interior of the car has been left relatively untouched, as this is still a street car.  An AIM MXS Strada dash is mounted in front of the OE cluster and provides Amir with all the data he needs to monitor engine vitals.  A worn Vertex steering replaces it’s original counterpart.

A BRIDE Proface fixed bucket seat and Cusco 5 point harness securely holds Amir in place as he pilots the car around track.

A carbon center console houses the new Hybrid Racing shifter topped with a 44m Battlecraft Hyper Tear Drop shift knob; a great combo that rounds out the remaining interior upgrades.  A small, accessible fire extinguisher is mounted on the firewall for a bit of added safety.

Exterior modifications have been specially curated by Amir to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.  A rarely seen I’s Impact front bumper, Yokota Bodycraft front fenders, Marga Hills rear fenders and sides skirts and an Advance rear bumper make up the almost exhausting amalgamation of body parts that adorn the car.  It’s a very unique combination of parts that somehow flow together very well.

One of the first products to come out of RS Future sits atop the rear gate.  The GT Wing provides the ideal example a functional aero piece that still maintains exemplary looks.

A pair of carbon Magical Racing mirrors give Amir a good view of what’s behind him on track and provide the car with a hint of super car flavor.  The exterior package is covered in what seems to be an ever-changing shade of paint depending on how the light hits it.  Dubbed ‘Midnight Purple 2’, the colors are akin to that of a more subtle Maziora where you’ll see the entire car change from a deep, rich purple, to a light brown, and again to black when the sun goes down.

The timeless lines of the NSX.

An RS Future front splitter rounds off the remaining aero on the car giving the car just the right amount of aggressiveness.

Suspension is handled by a set of KW Clubsport coilovers paired with 14k Swift Springs in both front and rear.  Dali Racing sway bars, and an upgraded set of camber arms make up the majority of handling upgrades.  A very simple setup that provides ample performance to say the least.

A staggered set of Rays TE37 wheels (17x9j +22 up front/18x105j +22 rear) in a classic bronze are a perfect compliment to the new color.  Yokohama A052 tires in 255/40/17, and 275/35/18 keep the car firmly planted.

 

 

The rear window has always reminded me of Under Suzuki’s S15 rear carbon piece; more of a place for showing support than a place to look out of.

What many would consider the piece de resistance of the build lies underneath the rear gate; a K20Z1 sourced from a DC5.  Built by Loi of Sportcar Motion and tuned by Kristian Wong of Battlecraft, the small but stout 2 liter motor has been fitted with a Borg Warner EFR7163 turbocharger that helps produce the 424 wheel horsepower and 389 foot pounds of torque that the motor currently puts out.

To ensure that the power is made in a reliable fashion, the motor was torn apart and rebuilt with a selection of aftermarket and OE parts.  The block is sleeved and fitted with Arias pistons that lower the compression ratio to a very forced induction safe 9.5:1.  Drag Cartel Stage 2 camshafts and a Supertech drivetrain were chosen for the head work and mated to the newly sleeved block with ARP head studs.

A Protomachine intake, ported Skunk2 intake manifold and larger 70mm throttle body help induce air intake per demand of the turbine.

An Aeromotive fuel pump and Injector Dynamics IDX1700 injectors supply all the E85 the motor could possibly want – actually, probably more than it actually wants as it is currently running very rich as the team works out the kinks in the tune.

Koyorad was enlisted to ensure the package stays cool with their radiator and water to air heat exchanger type intercooler.

A very unique bottom mounted manifold and custom titanium exhaust made by Protomachine peak out from the rear bumper.

Ghostwerks built the K20A2 transmission with a KAAZ differential and Gear-X gear set.

The transmission is the one thing Amir has his reservations with.  As he makes more power, the likelihood of a transmission and accompanying parts failure grows larger.

Having learned a lot from building this car, Amir is quite content at how it sits in it’s current state.  While development will continue throughout the coming years, the car will always remain a street car.  Built with the idea of setting records on the weekend while still being able to drive the car to dinner afterward, the car has become the perfect vision of what an NSX is to Amir.

“I’m very happy with the car as it sits I believe it will be evolution rather than revolution for the remainder of the cars life. The front aero will have some changes featuring a new line of components I am making for RS Future. Depending on what testing data says, I may change the turbo. Other than that, the primary goal will be to make it very reliable.”

With an entirely new shell on deck, Amir has future plans to build a completely separate, unlimited class NSX after he completes his checklist of accomplishments with the current street car.  Drawing inspiration from professional motor sport outlets like Super GT and Le Mans, the new unlimited build will no doubt be something that displays Amir’s passion for perfection.

If this car is any indication of what he is capable of achieving given the class restraints he put on himself, I can only imagine what he can come up without the binds of a rule book.  No doubt I am looking forward to seeing his vision come a reality.

The feeling Amir gets while driving the car he built makes all the work worth it, because he understands what it took to get to that point.  That’s why the car is special to him.  There are several reasons why this car is noteworthy, but out of all of them, the one that stands out to me is that it simply looks good.  The end all belief is that function takes precedent over form in the arena of speed…

…but that belief is dead.

Struck down by those that hold the same values as Amir.  So next time you hear someone say something along the lines of, ‘who cares if it’s ugly, it’s fast!’.

You can tell them that we care.  People like Amir care.  And that’s why this car is special to us.