If you ask pro drifter Kyle Mohan how to get (and keep) a car sideways, his equation will always include rotary somewhere in it. Mazda is the only automaker still pumping out engines that are based on the quirky trochoidal design. With high RPMs and instant-on throttle, Mohan will tell you the twin-rotary powerplant is the key to success.
A resident of Anaheim, CA, Mohan has not only made the Rotary his hobby and passion but also his profession. He is employed at Mazdatrix, one of the leaders in rotary technology in the country and his position there is predictably Engine Builder. Mazdatrix management thought it was a good idea to back Mohan in his foray into Formula D, not only to help their employee, but to build their brand in the process.
“Everyone helped build this car together over a tight four month time period,” says Mohan. “My friends, my co-workers, my family and then the corporate help of Mazdatrix and even Mazda USA!”
With that team assembled, it was expected the car would be a top performer. Now that we finally have a close up look at the car, the build quality is definitely there and the power is more than adequate. At the heart of the project is not the Renesis motor you’d expect, but rather the stout 13B twin-rotor. Displacing only 1.3L the rotary components were given a street/drift port at Mazdatrix and machined at KMR. The rotary assembly was milled, balanced and WPC treated for strength before being bolted back up with hardened fasteners. The rotors themselves were fitted with expensive Ianetti 1-piece ceramic seals. To keep the lubrication system on-point a Mazda competition oil pump was added with oil regulators and a GReddy catch can to keep it out of the combustion chamber. The cooling duties are delegated to Mishimoto where an aluminum racing rad and a pair of 14” fans pull air. The oil is cooled with twin Mishimoto oil coolers with Nomex braided lines by Blur industries.
The forced induction system comes in the form of a Turbonetics GTK-550 Drift-Special turbo hanging off a custom stainless manifold manufactured by JSP. The spent gases push on the Turbonetics wastegate eventually ending up in 3-inch Racing Beat exhaust shaped like a rotor. On the cool side, the compressed air heads into custom piping connected to a lay-flat Spearco intercooler. The 105 octane fuel is drawn in with an Aeromotive A1000 pump and managed by an Aeromotive fuel pressure regulator. The injectors firing into the rotary consist of 1000cc primaries and 1600cc secondaries.
The ensemble is all orchestrated by a Haltech Platnium Sport 2000 standalone. Well known for the efficiency at perfecting rotaries, the Haltech was installed by Ash and Jason at Blur Industries in Long Beach ,CA, and tuned by Nelson Siverio. When the rubber settled, the numbers did not disappoint. Out of a tiny displacement 13B, the rotary churned out 470whp with 349lb-ft of twist!
The only way to get that kind of power to ground was to rethink the driveline. A Jerico 4-speed box was fitted up to the raging rotary with custom mounts.
A twin-disc Exedy clutch was also added with an integrated Chromoly flywheel to save weight. The clutch spins up a custom Mazdatrix driveshaft with a KAAZ 2-way LSD on the other end.
The attention turned to the suspension (dialed in and tuned by EF1 Motorsports) where JIC Magic was selected to bless the RX-8 with unnatural abilities. JIC fitted the car with a set of FLT-TAR coilovers featuring custom valving and 15-way adjustability. JIC Magic also supplied camber links, toe links and traction bars in addition to strut tower bars. The anti-sway bars are Racing Beat with Mazdatrix adjustable end-links.
The wheel and tire package was only fitting for an unorthodox drift car. Mohan is one of the few drifters sponsored by XXR Racing and Cooper tires. The RX-8 currently runs, XXR_006 wheels, 18x8.5 and 18x9.5-inches wrapped in Cooper 2XS tires, 235/40R18 fronts and 265/40R18 meats to spin. Lurking behind the 2-piece wheels are stock brakes but the car has been fitted with an SSBC bias-adjuster and a custom hydraulic e-brake.
The body and chassis got a make-over by KMR and Mazdatrix too. The entire car was seam welded and a TC Sportline under-brace was added to stiffen the car. The Formula D-spec cage was welded in by Henry Schelley. After the custom bodywork was fitted to the car, it was taken to Signal Hill Autobody where it received some fresh paint. Finally, the graphics were applied by KMR and it certainly looked the part of a pro drift car.
Inside the cockpit, it’s all business. KMR fabricated some carbon Kevlar interior panels to lighten the weight of the car which stands at 2,580lbs with Mohan. Sparco Corsa racing seats were added in addition to 6-point cam lock harnesses. A Race Pack IQ3 digital dash and data logger interfaces with the Haltech computer to keep an eye on all the engine functions.
After a slow start to the ’09 season, the potential of the car has yet to be realized. We’re sure Mohan and his rotary rocket have a few Mazdatrix left up their sleeve. The hardware is certainly there and for Mohan he’ll keep pushing the rotary as long as he’s alive because it’s his thing before, during and after work.
Read on for Spec Sheet