It’s endearing to see to see the regulars at Tsukuba Circuit continue to progress their chosen platforms year after year. Sometimes the off season produces massive transformations, but often times it’s the small changes over time that make the biggest impact.
There’s plenty of examples in the paddock to showcase this, but Makoto’s NA Roadster, to me, is a true Cinderella story; this car just keeps getting better with each passing year.
We last spoke to Makoto at the peak of the 2020 season for our feature article debuting the NA’s new, cleaner look. A look that was finally able to properly showcase the custom Garage Vary widebody, covered in the solid blue pearl color synonymous with TCS Usui. Since then, the car has undergone some subtle improvements worth mentioning.
After Makoto ran some pre-season testing laps early in the year at Nikko, he moved on to Tsukuba where we were able to take a closer look at the build in January at a few Zummy Racing events.
At first glance, it would be difficult to discern any major changes. I think that’s what makes this season’s upgrades particularly more meaningful. Just for fun, and for a documented comparison, here is what the car looked like back in 2016.
You can read about the Miata, and see more photos of it in this state in our 2016 article here from one of the last Battle Evome events. You can also see the most major progression that took place four years later here.
In 2020, Makoto switched to a staggered set of 245/40/15 (F) and 275/35/15 (R) series Hoosier tires. However, this season he has switched back to the Advan A050 GS, a tire that has proven itself to be faster. More notably, he now uses a staggered set of TE37V wheels (16″ front and 17″ rear) , and has downsized the tires to a 225/45/16 (F) and 255/40/17.
The larger wheel size has a pretty dramatic effect on the overall appearance of the roadster, namely the rear half of the car.
The same Alcon brakes remain, utilizing an Acre pad.
A carbon, Akrapovič muffler, made for a Suzuki motorcycle now sits at the end of the titanium exhaust, and makes for a unique exhaust tone. Surprisingly enough, I can’t think of a better fitting exhaust appearance wise.
The top canards have been paint matched to the car’s blue pearl exterior, instead of the exposed carbon from earlier.
For 2023, the engine is the same, but the dimensions of the exhaust manifold have been changed; the new manifold just barely tinged with the heat from testing, has began to take on a nice patina. In addition to the new header, the four throttle intake has been equipped with an induction box to convert it to ram air. The motor was retuned with the existing Link ECU.
Gone is the cluttered, cut OE dash that had plagued the interior for years. In it’s place, a dry carbon Workshop Takumi part now houses the minimal dash and gauges Makoto uses to monitor and log data.
In testing, Makoto was able to reset the Roadster record at Nikko Circuit by .1 seconds. A 37.006 was quick enough to beat the previous record, also held by Makoto.
A few weeks ago, on March 9th, he returned to Nikko to attempt to rewrite the record with a 36, but was only able to manage a 37.026. With Nikko being used heavily as a drift circuit, the surface is often affected differently.
At Attack this year, Makoto was plagued with problems. During the first session, his drive shaft broke on turn 1. This was a first for him in 20 years, and because of the 2 decades worth or reliability, he didn’t think to ever bring a spare. By the time he was able to source one from a friend, the track temps were too high to post a good time.
Not to be defeated, in late February, he marked a new best of 59.454 at a DKM event at TC2000; his last Tsukuba run of the season. If he added up the fastest of his Sector times over the event, he has a potential 59.334 on the table. In 2024, he will certainly be back for 58’s.
Enjoy the trackside shots, and thanks for reading!