Despite being held back by an anemic engine, the Mazda Miata is a true gem. Cheap and plentiful, light and agile, it’s best known for its corner carving abilities, and though occasionally it’ll make an appearance at the drift event, it’s not exactly a 240SX. However, a grip-oriented Miata can be made to be a decent drifter—provided there’s a heavy layer of water coating the circuit’s surface.
Of course, this spectacular lap comes down to the man in the seat. Gregory Evans is something of a Miata specialist, and he’s shown us he’s quite quick around Laguna Seca in his Mazda. At Thunderhill, he’s clearly as fast, but takes a lap here to showcase his ability to showboat.
‘The trick with the Miata is it has such a short wheelbase,” notes Evans. “It’s actually not that good of a drift car, because it tends to rotate pretty quickly so you really need fast hands, or be in total anticipation of the car to dial in the correct amount of countersteer in some cases.”
Bearing that in mind, and considering the car is fitted with a less-than-ideal Torsen LSD, it looks to break away in a surprisingly predictable and amenable fashion, but that’s more due to technique than spec. Listen to the gentle feathering of the throttle and observe Evans’ constant steering corrections; always done with great fluidity. Additionally, when he centers the wheel at the end of a drift, his hands move smoothly, and the car always rightens without a hint of a bobble. He’ll admit his reaction times are “slower than an average human,” and he has to “compensate by being more ahead of the car and anticipating everything.” Perhaps, he’s making it look simpler than it is.
The switchback transition through Turn Three and Four clearly demonstrates Evans’ ability to stay one step ahead of his nervous Mazda. Just as the car begins to straighten out of the left-hander Turn 3 (1:31), he flicks it in abruptly and is rewarded with great angle, and continues the slide well up into Turn 5—much further than you would think a Miata with just 105 horsepower could drift uphill out of a slow corner.
For more information on Greg, his racing, or his coaching services, visit his website at www.gregoryevans.net.