Riding the Wind – Excerpt from Furai Evaluation
The fastest concept car ever may be on the way to Le Mans (or to your garage).
©2008 Isaac Hernández
Mazda calls it “something between a race car and the wildest sports car”, built on the Courage C65 chassis that Mazda ran at the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) for 2005 and 2006, powered by a 450-hp three-rotor Wankel 20B rotary engine, and fueled by ethanol E100.
When I first see Furai, it’s speeding at 250 km/h down the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway straight, with ALMS driver, Jamie Bach, at the wheel. Furai means “the sound of wind” in Japanese, but this wild-looking concept sounds like a UFO. It comes to a stop at my feet, where my jaw drops in amazement. Where are the aliens? The left gullwing door opens, and I’m invited into its tight quarters. I’m being abducted.
Inside, I’m shoulder to shoulder with Jamie, my right foot almost touching his clutch, which he only has to press once, to shift into first. At this time the 20B makes a deep throaty helicopter sound. As we catch speed, the rotors increase to 9000rpm, with a high-pitch whine like a supersonic plane, interrupted only during the quick shifts.
Before the famous corkscrew we’re going about 190km/h in fifth gear, to reduce to 85 km/h in first as we point towards “the tree”. At the wheel, there’s a blind trust in that tree, because you don’t see the road. Just point the car to the oak and you’ll drop suddenly onto the apex of the next turn, where our speed is already 130km/h, in fourth gear. The next left turn we hit 2 g’s.
Stories on the Furai by Isaac Hernández are been published in Motor Australia, AutoExpress UK, Fórmula Car & Tecno Spain, Car and Driver Mexico and Auto Bild Sportscars Germany. Licensing of images, text and video available through MercuryPress.com