The right selection of upgrades and a talented driver can occasionally make all the difference—even on a course which doesn’t truly suit the car. Feal coilovers, a Hotchkis front anti-roll bar, Hawk DTC-60 pads, and 225-section Federal 595RS-RR tires all around give this NC Miata its greatest strengths: handling and braking.
Predictably, a mere 160 horsepower at the rear wheels means straights aren’t its forte, but a good setup and skilled hands help carry this 2,380-pound NC Miata around the Streets of Willow at a frightening pace. With a little consistency and good positioning, it’s fast enough to reel in a Corvette Z06 with nearly four times the power.
DRIVER 46 has an ability to point the car with forceful braking, which allows him to close the gap both in heavy braking zones and medium-speed corners. As we see at 1:32, he can maintain an impressive amount of mid-corner speed after tipping the car into a drift on corner entry (1:32). It might not be the tidiest or the fastest way through a corner (he’s 5 mph quicker when driving cleanly), but it conveys his commitment, and he’s able to do it without backing out of the throttle much. Hats off.
Late Braking and Line Selection
That willingness to rotate is one advantage, as are the lines he’s able to run. Since the Miata’s driven wheels are rarely torque-limited and there’s a lot of grip available on this day, it makes sense to turn in earlier to cover a shorter distance through longer corners like Turn 8 (5:22).
It’s clear that by the end of the clip, constantly applying pressure causes the Corvette’s driver to bungle a couple corners. Through the tighter infield where there is one good line, hanging on the C6’s bumper is enough to push the driver into compromising their line and turning in too early—particularly through Turns 4 and 3 (5:44). Even four times the power and a short straight can’t compensate there, and the Corvette’s driver gives DRIVER 46 a deserved point-by.
Not content with the grunt his factory motor makes, DRIVER 46 decided to swap it with a 2.5-liter found in Ford Fusions, Mazda 3s, etc. The new engine’s low-end shove doesn’t necessitate the same number of downshifts as his old mill did, but as we can see by the aborted attempts at a 4-2 downshift in the footage below, those gut feelings from driving a torqueless engine are still with him.
I wonder how the Miata would fare against the Corvette now.