It’s always a pleasure seeing the regulars at Attack events around Japan season after season. Those drivers and shops that form the foundation of our community, that attend not just to drive, but to uphold the responsibility they’ve given themselves to push the sport forward.
Watching their progress is a huge part of why the sport has a growing fan base, and personally I find it very exciting to be a part of. On the other side of things, I’m also always on the lookout for new builds I may not have seen before myself, or shops that bring new builds out for testing and R&D. Whether at events off season, on track in competition, or scouring the internet for lesser known shops, wherever I find them, the feeling I get when uncovering something new is always a rush. This was exactly the case when I saw that this Zesty Racing built FD3S was going to be at the season starter Attack Tohoku event this past weekend.
Now is a good a time as any to mention that I wasn’t actually at Sugo for Attack Tohoku this year. COVID has all but stripped me of my ability to travel to Japan to cover events and conduct business as usual, so I had to find other means of getting coverage. I keep in contact with the organizers of Attack fairly regularly during the off season, and in anticipating this issue awhile ago, I reached out to Haji to find a solution. Haji handles the media and web design arm of the organization and we’ve been friends and colleagues for several years now. I wrote on Instagram the other day:
“When I first began to dig deeper into the world of Japanese time attack back in the early/mid-00’s, I would explore Minkara for hours on end absorbing as much as I could unearth with my limited Japanese. Back then it wasn’t easy to find quality photos; most were 600×400, super pixelated flip phone photos. Not to mention Japanese tuning shops were among the last to adopt actual, informative websites that were more than just glorified business cards. There was a Minkara profile that I made a habit of checking daily; ‘Smiley Shot’. Finding that profile, and subsequently his now defunct website toy-ds, was like striking gold. Pure gold! Clear photos, with decent event coverage, and links to drivers profiles, all in concise, frequent posts. I didn’t know who Haji was back then, and he certainly didn’t know me. But I hold such a high regard for what he’s covered over the years and am forever grateful that he made it available on a platform so widely used in Japan. In December of 2013, to my own ignorance, I met Haji at an Evome event at Tsukuba. I didn’t put two and two together until the next time we crossed paths. Presently, having devoted himself to working with the growing Attack series, the full force of his talent is put towards creating media and website design for the organization. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside Haji for years now, and he’s been a huge help to me in both a communicative way (if I’m unable to travel with Sekinei), and in showing me around the ideal photo areas on circuits I’ve never been to before. Because of COVID, for the foreseeable future at least, I’m unable to attend Attack events in Japan this season. While this is a huge setback for a site whose content is solely time attack in Japan, it’s also given me the chance to work directly with the person that had a massive impact on me and my work early on. An opportunity to combine our own platforms to expand the reach of Attack. And well, that’s pretty damn cool to me.”
For this season, Haji and I will be working together, along with others, to continue to publish Attack content globally through NDF. It’s a huge honor for me to have Haji’s photos on this site, let alone have him trust me with processing them. If I had even the slightest idea this would be a reality looking through his photos on his site a decade ago I wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, here we are; almost as if this is my silver lining to the environment we’re faced with today. This article will be the first of many with Haji’s photos and I hope that we’re able to continue the growth of Attack and NDF despite the challenges that 2020 has brought us. You can follow Haji on Twitter.
With the overcast Autumn skies of Sportsland Sugo unknowingly filtering the morning light strewn across the paddock, the bright cobalt of the Zesty Racing RX7 retreated to a deep, almost suffocated dark blue. The temperatures were ideal; a crisp 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning that would give way to no more than low 60’s in the afternoon. Aside from a bought of rain in the middle of the day, the first sessions most certainly called for record breaking laps.
Excited to be back at Sugo, one of his favorite tracks, the owner and driver, Toshi-san, prepared the car for the day. As he moved about the car instinctually, it became clear that this was not his first time at the circuit. In fact, having owned the car for the better part of 10 years now, it’s to the point now where the bulk of the car development has begun to transition into more refinement. With a personal best time of 1’33.756, his goal was to cut the time down enough to get into the 32’s. To put that lap time in perspective, Ando (Yabatan Ando that is, in the Auto Rescue Izu FD) reset his personal best during this event with a 1’27.430, and the rotary track record was also rest this event by Tetsuhiro in the Car Shop Dream FD with a 1’21.477. So, a goal of a 32 isn’t at the top of the spectrum, but for the limit the car is tuned too, it is still a very respectable time. At any rate, Toshi had his work cut out for him and would need to focus to hit his goal.
The uniqueness of the Zesty Racing exterior is hard to miss. The Miyagi prefecture based tuning shop makes their own fiberglass and carbon parts in house, in addition to working closely with parts manufacturers like Endless and Zeal to create their own spec’d goods. Albeit a one stop shop focusing on the RX7 and Porsche chassis, there is no denying that their aero parts are what the company is known for.
The ZR Type I front bumper and undertray is unlike any other available for the FD. It’s distinctive lines both cut into and compliment the cars original bodywork in an almost surreal way. The carbon undertray is ducted properly and is molded to work in conjunction with the front bumper to negate the need for a stand alone splitter and bracketing. It’s a system that rides the line between street and track, and while this car was built solely to be driven on circuit, the kit itself would look at home on a street car just as well.
Toshi did well to match the deep blue paint color with the continuation of carbon around the car and slight yellow accents in both the tinted front lights and decals. It’s extremely well put together and you can tell that a lot of thought went into the execution of the build. The overall look of the end product was very much in mind during the process. This FD was not built with off the shelf parts, as you’ll see, many of the parts are one off.
Almost the entirety of the exterior parts are original. Zesty Racing was commissioned to create a handful of exterior parts that would compliment their Type I front end and the end result is just as you’d expect. Lines that at first glance shouldn’t make sense, but result in the continuously satisfactory flow of the newly widened body.
The widened rear overs in conjunction with the front fenders look as if they were glass blown. The skillfully crafted curves in the fiberglass show the beautiful work of a professional in their craft.
Coated in the rich blue color, the fenders look almost mailable in form, very much complimenting the rounded figure of the FD. Not without use either, as they work to fit the 18×10 CE28SL wheels wrapped in 295/30/19 Advan A050 tires; the standard in Attack. From this angle you can see the slight step down of the front undertray; one of my favorite features of the front end.
The rear diffuser, also a one-off piece, ties together the whole of the aerodynamic package. Although necessary in function, it looks as if it is the only part of the car that comes as an after thought. Admittedly it is a newer piece on the car’s exterior, so could still be refined in the future. The titanium exhaust peaks out the back, nestled right over the diffuser.
You can use your finger to cover the diffuser and see what I mean about it being the only part that doesn’t flow with the car.
The interior shows signs of a car fighting to retain it’s status as a streetable option. While the full dash still remains, along with center console and door cards, the remainder of the interior has been stripped in its entirety.
A custom, gusseted roll bar, painted in Nardo grey (along with the rest of the interior) helps provide both safety and chassis rigidity.
A Nardi steering wheel replaces the OE piece and various gauges fill the double din which once housed the radio.
A BRIDE Vios Low Max and Takata harness hold Toshi in place as he thrashes around track.
Custom electronics mount made of carbon fills the OE din and houses the Defi control unit for the super cluster and the HKS F-Con Pro unit.
A fuel sump is utilized to help with cut out. The stripped out interior brings the cars weight down to about 1150 kg, or approximately 2500 pounds.
The 13B, which has been removed and prepared by Zesty Racing, was built with reliability in mind. The engine has been side ported (intake) , and the original turbines have been replaced by a single HKS TO4Z; which is on the smaller spectrum of what HKS offers. The cooling system is handled by a custom V-mount setup with GReddy coolers.
Tuned with HKS F-Con V and Power FC, the rotary pumps out a healthy 400 horsepower.
The transmission remains OE spec, but is supported by OS Giken parts. Toshi mentioned that if he continues to develop the FD, the transmission will be the next item to be addressed.
As clean as this car is, it’s not immune to the ever-present Japanese patina.
Vented hood, secured with pins and quik-latches, helps to release hot air.
The profile of the car paints a picture of completion. The low, albeit correct, ride height is allowed by a set of custom valved Endless Zeal coilovers with full spherical arms. The front and rear brakes are also from Endless.
Out on track, Toshi struggled a bit to find pace. While the morning session was ideal track conditions, rain marred the mid-day sessions, but cleared for the end of the day. He ended with a 1’34.860, a little over a second from his previous best. Although it was off pace, it wasn’t a bad way to kick off the season.
Since seeing this car on the roster for this event, I had been intrigued. I’m thankful that Haji was able to get a closer look for us. I’m looking forward to seeing this car at more events in the coming months.
Enjoy the gallery.
This year has forced us all to comprehend that what we choose to achieve in life heavily depends on our ability to practice patience. To understand when to act, and to have self restraint in the times of stillness. Allowing us time to take a step back and refocus on what matters instead of keeping our face down in the work. It’s okay to take a break.
Photos: はじ / Processing: Sean / Words: Sean