UN­DER­DOG

NZ Performance Car - - Construction -

This par­tic­u­lar Bri­tish green MX-5 has be­come some­what of an in­sti­tu­tion within the lo­cal grass-roots drift­ing scene. Why? Well, its owner, Kieran Ste­wart, de­fies the rules of physics by squeez­ing his almost-seven-foot frame un­der the hard-top and ped­al­ing it like an ab­so­lute mad­man. Ded­i­cated to stick­ing with a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated (NA) 1800cc mo­tor that, at its best, was only punch­ing out just shy of 100kW, it was a for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent against many a high-pow­ered car, favour­ing speed and mo­men­tum over out­right power. This saw the pair step­ping up to tackle the Link ECU D1NZ Na­tional Drift­ing Cham­pi­onship Pro-Sport class, man­ag­ing to hold its own as the most un­der­pow­ered car in the field — but even wring­ing the poor thing out to 8500rpm couldn’t see it progress.

Kieran told us that, af­ter a failed at­tempt to make a highly strung–yet– re­li­able B7 us­ing 4A-GE and B16A parts, the call was made to seek a little more ca­pac­ity and open up the door to almost end­less parts op­tions. The orig­i­nal plan leaned to­wards a Honda K24, al­though this would prove too dif­fi­cult due to the oil pump lo­ca­tion. Keeping it within the fam­ily, an NA Mazda MZR LF two-litre, bet­ter known to some as the ‘Ford Du­ratec’, was cho­sen in­stead.

“The LF is ex­tremely com­mon; cheap; lighter than the 1.6-litre; [has] more torque; and, be­cause of the UK-built Cater­hams that use them, NC MX-5s, and the Ford com­mu­nity, there are lots of up­grades avail­able for them … even crate mo­tors from Cos­worth,” said Kieran.

Fac­tory ex­am­ples can make any­where from 110 to 130kW, and, with light mod­i­fi­ca­tions, can jump up­wards of 150kW at the fly. Kieran’s own ex­am­ple has an M-Spec Fab­ri­ca­tion in­di­vid­ual throt­tle body (ITB) adap­tor to fit 4A-GE black­top throttles, while SMS Fab­ri­ca­tion con­structed the en­gine mounts. Us­ing an ’07 MX-5 front gear­box hous­ing from the five-speed mated to the old sixspeed, it bolts straight up to the mo­tor with an NC clutch. A Link plug-and-play ECU has been used and tuned by Re­ac­tion Rac­ing.

The car will re­tain the C’s Garage knuck­les and Bil­stein sus­pen­sion that it pre­vi­ously ran, along with the Kayne Bar­rie Mo­tor­sport–built Cusco 1.5-way diff, full cage, and mix­ture of 14-inch Japanese wheel good­ness.

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