There are many ways to skin a cat. Bruce Banks set out in the Super Saloons a few years ago with a four-cylinder turbo, and then feeling the pangs of a rotary engine, moved onto a normally-aspirated 20B.
With a few ponies shy of 400, the package was no slouch, but unfortunately, the V8 competition and open rules in Super Saloons motivated Banks to strap a turbocharger onto his Smurf-blue Mazda. Outputting 700 horsepower – quite violently, it should be added – made this car a serious threat on track. Not only is its straight-line speed awe-inspiring, but its matched with wonderful balance and precise cornering.
While that combination might make rotary fans salivate, the engine placement will give them an aneurysm. There’s plenty of ways to try and keep the weight mounted as centrally as possible, but sticking the mill in the actual cabin is one not taken by many drivers, especially with rotary engines which run a bit hotter than the typical piston motor. Throw a watermelon-sized turbocharger on, and one must be well-acclimated to hot environments to handle it, even with a homemade shroud sitting over it. That’s one advantage the Aussie drivers have, it seems.
However, perhaps the heat got the better of Banks in this particular romp. After making a screaming start and surging ahead with that violent, relentless power, Banks is out-braked, somehow, by a 300ZX. It’s a daring maneuver, and the 300ZX has to carry their brakes deep into the corner because of the speed and the line, and they trip; spinning around and leaving Banks nowhere to go.
Perhaps a bit of target fixation came into play here, but it’s one of those incidents that happen to skilled drivers like Banks, and a disappointing day for him – you can hear the dismay in his voice.