GT300 and D1 driver, Nobuteru Taniguchi, is one whose skills need to be witnessed from time to time. Any racer worth his salt can see the man is a virtuoso whose calm command behind the wheel is just special. He’s getting everything out of the car, and yet he looks so composed, so serene. Put him behind the wheel of Garage G-Force’s Evo IX, a car with a very urgent power delivery and a nervous tail, and he still makes it look easy.
The specs of the car have been covered in detail here, but it’s worth noting that the engine’s been stroked to 2.3 liters, and uses a top-line Borg Warner EFR 8374 ball-bearing turbo. The response is as good as any turbo motor of that size, and it continues to pull all the way to its 7,500-rpm redline, where it makes nearly 700 horsepower. With 565 lb-ft of torque available at 4,700 rpm and a Holinger sequential gearbox keeping the motor in its sweet spot, it never runs out of puff. That said, he does indulge in a little clutch-kicking to get the 4G63 howling out of Tsukuba’s slowest bends. Listen for the spike in the revs at 0:24 and 0:51. He is a pretty good drifter, as it happens.
Ohlins DFV dampers and 295-section Yokohama A050 tires also help in that regard. The traction is stupendous, and Taniguchi’s buttery steering and throttle inputs ensures he treats the tires with care. Still, this 52-second lap is achieved by driving in that small space between assertion and sympathy, and the rear does like to dance, even in his caring hands.
This is most impressive at 0:36, when he counter-steers with one hand while pulling the shift lever with the other. Though the rear end writhes around, he keeps the carbon-clad Evo pointing reasonably straight and fires out of the corner with style and grace. Then, as he sets up for Turn 7, under the famous Dunlop Bridge, he uses every inch of track and more; going beyond the white line and almost putting one of his canards in the dirt. By using the full width of the road, he gets the car rotated assertively but still delicately; keeping the platform stable the whole time.
The real fireworks happen in the final corner. With confidence in the Voltex aero kit, he leans on the car heading into the high-speed Turn 12 (1:03). The entry speed is ludicrous and the splitter sparks as it scrapes the surface of the course! Plus, the car tries to bite him twice as he applies the throttle, but with cool composure, he drifts the car, keeping his foot planted, and crosses the finish line in 52.617 seconds. Truly remarkable — but what would you expect from someone whose nickname is “No One Better?”