Even with a talented driver, a well-sorted car, and the admiration of the public, every trip to the track isn’t successful. Such was the case when “Shark” Iiri’s FD3S decided to shred fifth gear at the end of what would have been an outstanding lap at Tsukuba Circuit.
His car, nicknamed “Shark 7”, was once one of Amemiya’s street-driven RX-7s, which came into his hands after he won the 2006 GT300 title for the famous rotary tuner. Not content with the 13B and looking for the utmost in rotary response, Iiri upgraded for the 2.0-liter 20B motor, and has since delighted his fans with that distinctive three-rotor howl.
Exhaust note aside, it’s just an exceptionally well-balanced car without any frills. The atmospheric 20B makes a respectable 360 horsepower with plenty of torque and a broad powerband, and the carbon-clad chassis weighs just a tick under 2,300 pounds. With 295-section Yokohama A050 tires at all four corners, the car is agile, very stable at speed, able to deploy the power without a hiccup, and happy to turn 56-second laps at Tsukuba Circuit.
Nevertheless, a stellar build and a talented driver at the helm must still deal with fate’s cruel hand. At the end of this flawless lap, fifth gear grinds their progress to a halt upon selection on Tsukuba’s back straight. Who knows what Iiri could’ve achieved had the transmission held up a few more seconds.
Undaunted by this mechanical setback, Iiri took the opportunity to outfit the Mazda with a sequential gearbox and a new aero package, which have trimmed a few tenths and helped make it a truly special car capable of setting special records.
As a result of its upgrades, the Shark 7 recorded a 55.8-second lap several months ago, giving it the accolade of the fastest normally-aspirated production car around Tsukuba; a title formerly held by the Kyushu-Danji NSX before it went turbo. In February, Iiri intends to trim a full second of his current record, and provided the gearbox holds up, there’s a good chance he’ll do it.