Video: Drifty S2000 Battles 991 Carrera S

At anything but a testing ground or a mega-technical track, the 991-generation Carrera S should have absolutely no difficulty showing a Honda S2000 its heels—provided the drivers are equally talented. Fortunately for fans of the iconic Japanese roadster, the young talent behind the wheel is Jackie Ding: a 19-year-old hot-shoe with Formula 4 experience and the sort of gusto that could make him a character in Initial D.

To be fair, the S2000 is far from stock. Its natural agility is improved by a considerable diet of a Mugen-replica hardtop, a lighter battery, Enkei PF01 wheels, and Sparco 807 Evo seats. In total, these slimming additions bring the S2000 down to 2,750 pounds, and its sure-footedness comes as a result of Stance XR1 coilovers, CR swaybars, and Buddy Club balljoints.

Surefooted has different definitions among different racers, and in this instance, it means something along the lines of responsive and controllable. However, its willingness to change direction also comes with a likelihood of abrupt breakaway — even at high speeds and especially over the curbs. Some of Ding’s youthful exuberance contributes to to the antics on display, but it’s likely this is the best way to charge with this particular car, on these particular tires.

Photo credit: Wheelwell.com

Like the AE86 Corolla of Initial D fame which inspired those wild bouts of oversteer, the S2000 is far from a powerhouse. However, a Hondata ECU, PLM headers, and a Greddy catback exhaust help make 215hp and 180 lb-ft of torque at the wheels. Still, the Honda shouldn’t be able to accelerate on par with the Porsche.

In a drag race, the 911 would undoubtedly have the S2000 lunched, but the Carrera’s longer wheelbase, heft, and compliant setup limit it from fully exploiting that natural traction at the corner exit. The Porsche is beautifully composed, but as it’s not truly a track-oriented machine in stock guise, it struggles to maintain as much steady-state balance through the longer corners. In the middle of these bends, the Carrera occasionally breaks away in such a way that the driver is forced to lift, which compromises some of the stellar corner-exit acceleration these cars are renowned for.

The Porsche’s bigger mid-corner breakaways (1:34) help the steadier S2000 eke out a small lead.

Rolling more entry speed and benefiting from a nimbler chassis, Ding is able to keep his right foot pinned more of the time. This mid-corner stability allows Ding to exit the corner with more speed, which is enough to keep the Carrera S from winning the drag race between corners.

Interestingly, the display from inside Ding’s cockpit looks much calmer than the view from the Porsche would suggest. A flick of countersteering upon turn-in, lots of tidy trail-braking, and another mid-corner correction (3:08) look predictable and imply the car’s propensity to rotate is confidence-inspiring — not intimidating. Its rear constantly yaws through corners, but its not quite as hairy as one might think.

Here, Ding isn’t trying to drift; the car simply breaks away with minor loading over a curb.

Fortunately, Ding has plenty of ability—which gives him the confidence to slide the car over the curbs and send some dirt at his pursuer’s windshield (3:03). Cue the Eurobeat.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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