Talent, tenacity, and youthful exuberance can take you a ways in racing. When they don’t, those traits still make for some eye-opening driving. Taking his turbo Miata around Laguna Seca is nothing new to George Koustoumbardis, but driving on a set of Maxxis Victra RC-1 tires with more than 50 heat cycles is bound to make his trip around the famous Monterey racetrack a bit surprising.
“The tires were extremely unpredictable,” Koustoumbardis begins. The trained eye will notice the outrageous amount of steering lock required to turn the Miata into the corner. “So I had to set the car during turn-in even more than usual. If I didn’t, which is evident in Turn 4, the car would just push,” he elaborates. This is most noticeable at 2:14, where Koustoumbardis had to hold an armful of steering lock all the way until he’s on the rumble strips.
Even with that much understeer, the Miata never snaps into oversteer. Perhaps that’s due to the conservative power output. The 201 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque are delivered very progressively, so big snaps aren’t common — not what you would expect from a force-fed Miata. That said, there’s still enough to break the rears loose at lower speeds (3:23). Fortunately, in the faster corners, he can neutralize some of the understeer with a brief lift from the throttle (3:03).
With worn brakes and tires, Koustoumbardis didn’t indulge in any late-braking heroics. Even still, his superior power-to-weight made the E36 M3 ahead easy to reel in on the power-dependent circuit, but the GT350 was another challenge entirely. After accepting the fight was futile, Koustoumbardis went out in style (7:18) and proved that the Miata is just as capable of going sideways as it is of carving a tidy lap.
Footage from the BMW driver’s perspective.