Is it fair to compare cheap, old, modified, JDM roadsters with modern offerings from Porsche? Would anyone realistically pick an MX-5 or an S2000 over a GT3 RS? Probably not, unless they’re striving to be the king of the underdogs, but not every track rat has pockets deep enough for an RS. Fortunately, with some helpful modifications and knowledgeable drivers, we see that these budget roadsters can fill a Porsche’s mirrors.
When a supercharged S2000 takes on an LFX-powered Miata and a 991 GT3 RS at the sinuous Nordschleife, it’s anyone’s bet. The Porsche is arguably the strongest package of the three. But, the two Japanese roadsters are outfitted with powerful motors and enough rubber and brakes to give them the road-holding needed to compete. Though there are differences, the three drivers — all with real talent — are kept close by the Nürburging’s equalizing nature.
Making a Miata Match the Ring King
To make a Miata run comfortably with a well-driven GT3 RS requires a lot of modification, including the addition of a 3.8-liter LFX V6. The Camaro-sourced engine has just about everything right for a track car. Not only does adding the aluminum motor retain a desirable weight distribution, but it adds a lot more power.
With 323 hp at 6,800 rpm and 278 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm, the LFX offers plenty of shove for a 2,350-lb MX-5. Plus, with the way the engine delivers power, it never seems that Kostas, the One Lap Heroes ace and driver of this car, has to wrangle with any wheelspin at the corner exit. In fact, it’s only a little nervous on entry.
A set of Meister-R Club Race coilovers, with 12 kg springs and increased suspension travel, improve body control without reducing compliance. It handles undulations nicely; watch Kostas mount the curb out of Aremberg (2:46) without the slightest snap. It’s a friendly character like this, plus a set of confidence-inspiring Stoptech brakes, which allow Kostas to push so hard.
Supercharging Honda’s Scalpel
Interestingly, the slightly heavier Honda S2000 is just as fast along the Nordschleife’s straights, if not slightly faster. That’s because Andre, the owner of this car, decided to supercharge the F22C motor to make a healthy 330 horsepower — enough to match a tuned E46 M3 in a straight line.
Of course, getting the 2.2-liter to make this much power requires an HKS supercharger and an AEM V2 ECU, and a good tune means the power is delivered in a reasonably progressive fashion. The 255/40R17 Federal FZ201 tires at the rear aren’t aided by traction control. Considering how pointy the car is, Andre must be cautious with his throttle inputs.
The KW coilovers, complete with helper springs, as well as the XYZ brakes, allow Andre to get the most from his modified steed. Braking late and carrying lots of entry speed just about everywhere, Andre can out-corner the Porsche and repeatedly close the gap at the end of every straight. But, the Nürburgring is a place that rewards a car with everything — including thrust. Can these modified machines match the almighty GT3 RS when the course straightens?
Keeping in Touch
Only in the straightest sections does the Porsche eke out a gap, like through Kesselchen (5:36). However, the courageous fellows in the Japanese cars nibble out slight advantages through the fastest sections then brake hard enough to rejoin the fight by the time they arrive at the Karrusel (5:57). Good lines, excellent braking, and a little extra confidence can close the gap to a stronger car.
Of course, these guys aren’t racing for prizes, money, fame, or kisses on the cheek, but they’re pushing as hard as any sensible driver on a touristenfahrten day would. “There are no winners on touristenfahrten,” the sensible One Lap Heroes admit. For these guys, it’s the fun of driving, the experience of the build, and the bond between drivers that motivate them to do what they do. We should all take an oil-stained page from their book.