'Yellow' Mazda Bira debut promises a sting in the tail

'Yellow' Mazda Bira debut promises a sting in the tail

04.09.2016: Exactly a year after Rotary Revolution debuted the first of its new build of Mazda RX-7 racecars

Exactly a year after Rotary Revolution debuted the first of its new build of Mazda RX-7 racecars in Super Car GTC, that milestone coming during the third round of TSS 2015 held at Bira International Circuit last September, the Bangkok-based ‘rotary’ specialist will return to the Pattaya track for this year’s visit by TSS with no less than three of these cars – with the third example turning its wheels in anger for the first time.

The first RX-7, finished in a striking pink colour scheme, has been in the hands of Super Car GTC regular Narin Yensuk ever since its Bira debut last year.

The Chiang Mai driver will be back behind the wheel once again this coming weekend. The second car, driven by U-tain Pongprapas, arrived at the start of this season, it’s wrapped in the familiar red white and green colours of its sponsors, while the brand new third car is in an equally eye catching yellow. At the very least these cars visually standout on the grid.

The idea to buck the ever growing trend of acquiring turnkey European racecars and reignite the Thai tradition of developing machines locally came from Rotary Revolution's passionate owner, Titapon Phaojinda. Aside from the three cars for Super Car GTC, further examples have been built and this highly ambitious project seems to have resonated and connected already.

The new third car also has the advantage of building on a full year's worth of competitive race action ‘R&D’ by the RX-7 programme.

The biggest change over the last year though has been the skills transfer that has permeated through this small company. For many years the team ran just a single car for Pete Thongchua, relying mainly on enthusiasm to make it to the grid.

Now Rotary Revolution has had to raise its game as it supports multiple cars, as Titapon admits. "Certainly for this project it has been a step up from me being the only one who looked after the engine and certain other areas to whole team becoming involved," he says.

They set about building a racecar, thought it out very carefully and the resulting creation has met the project’s objectives, it's shaken out where they wanted.

Racing the new RX-7 over the last year has seen several areas for development identified and improvements have been made, mainly though this has revolved around heat transfer – both inside the cockpit and under the long sweeping engine cover.

"We have got feedback from racing the pink car and have improved it, we’ve made changes but they’re not very big changes, fundamentally the car has been very good," says Titapon.

"The pink car's engine room ran pretty hot so we have improved the cooling. The cockpit also gets hot so we have made some revisions to get the airflow inside and keep the driver cooler."

The new yellow RX-7 will be in the hands of James Runacres, a budding driver with a lot of potential and plenty of pace. It represents another step forward for Rotary Revolution; a hungry team now has a hungry young driver behind the wheel.

They need to be hungry too – if you want to win races in Super Car GTC you're first going to have to beat Narasak Ittiritpong, one of Thailand's leading drivers who has the dazzling new Reiter built KTM X-Bow GT4 at his disposal and is backed up by the strength of Vattana Motorsport.

That's a heck of a racecar and not to forget the factory run Toyota 86 of Manat Kulapalanont either, he’s another top driver and a proven winner.

James doesn't bring much experience of competing in closed roof cars to the party, the 22-year-old has only driven a Honda Jazz in a one make series previously although in recent seasons he's been racing across Asia in single-seaters and has demonstrated that he's got plenty of pace to unlock.

However it's a huge change to swap away from the light, nimble, punchy and quick-on-the-brakes characteristics of a single seater and into a big, wide and heavy GT car with its much longer braking window as well of course as the heavily reduced visibility. There’s a mountain to climb ahead.

So how did he come to trade in his single seater path for a seat with Rotary Revolution? "I've loved rotary engines ever since I was a kid and grew up stuck to the Fast & Furious movies so I was obsessed with anything that can slide," James explains.

"I finally got my chance to own a road going RX-7 and fell in love with the car. Then I found this team on Facebook and I was following the build of their pink car and asked if they could build me a GT and instead we came to a deal for me to drive for them."

James is clearly looking forward to making his race debut in the car and believes his single seater experience will help him adjust quickly.

"Cornering speeds in my head should be a lot faster than what the car can do, so I will be finding the limits and then pushing hard. It will be interesting though in a car with so little visibility and which is so wide."

Braking will be another area that James hopes to exploit and he will be relying on a formula car brake shape to get him up to speed. It's certainly going to be an interesting collaboration; the ambitious team with an equally ambitious racecar build programme and the hungry young driver who really needs to start making his mark.

- Edd Ellison - also photo

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/yellow-mazda-bira-tss-thailand---154537.html

04.09.2016 / MaP

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