VID: 450HP 20B MAZDA 3
VID: 450HP 20B MAZDA 3
As a daily driver or commuter it stands to reason that the Mazda 3 is a great option; safe, reliable, stylish and punchy, especially when optioned with the turbocharged MPS package. Other than that however, its usefulness to a gear head is somewhat limited - being front wheel drive and featuring limited after market support means that there is only so much you can do with it, or so you would think.
Enter German tuning house Van Herck Racing and their infamous touring car. With a rear wheel drive conversion and a monster fuel system feeding an aspirated 20B 3-rotor tucked low under the firewall, this Mazda 3 is the end of the world as mother nature knows it.
Upon its Zolder Raceway debut this car's fame spread like wildfire across the internet, with videos popping up on message boards worldwide as people gawked at the idea that this previously overlooked chassis had potential to support such an incredible final product.
To the team at Van Herck however it's not about spreading notoriety or clocking up views on YouTube, but about going fast - really fast. Van Herck began developing the car when the 2010 chassis was virtually new; they'd come off the back of their highly successful bright green FD3S project and were looking to kick things up a notch and throw punches with top tier competitors in the Belgian Touring Car racing series.
A total of ten months went into transforming the garden-variety Mazda 3 sedan into the very fabric of automotive dreams.
It wasn't even an SP23 or MPS optioned chassis - the team had a huge job ahead of them and needed to change most everything for the car to become competitive amongst the hotly contested field.
Of these changes the most memorable is certainly the naturally aspirated 3 rotor engine swap, which replaces the factory 1600cc piston engine and comes bearing 450 horsepower thanks to Carlos Lopez Motorsport from Miami.
Describing the setup as "nice and fast", the Van Herck team seems to downplay the rotary fan-fair aspect and instead focus upon the impressive results which the setup is capable of netting. Explaining that the reasons for the swap were primarily power output and value for money, it has to be believed that at least a little of their motivation to fit an aspirated 20B must have come from the assured shock value that such a conversion generates.
Having developed their previous RX-7 chassis heavily over a number of seasons, the team were already familiar with the kind of mechanical recipe they'd be dealing with when building the '3 from the get go, so wasted time was next to nil.
Gearbox choice is absolutely critical when it comes to keeping a race-prepped rotary on-song so a Drenth DG400 sequential six-speed and Drechsler differential where selected to complete the drivetrain.
The mounting of these items, along with a host of other fabrication work, was handled by VA Motorsport, who had also fabricated the necessary parts to place the 20B where it needed to be in the engine bay.
While the car was at VA the rear suspension was also redesigned, which uses an updated BMW IRS design and Motion coil over shocks; a setup which driver, Van, reports works very well. With the majority of public attention surrounding this car being centered on its wild engine conversion it's easy to forget that being a competitive race car, the engine actually takes a back seat in terms of importance with priority given to arenas such as the vehicle's suspension and balance.
The 20B might sound awesome and the fabrication work throughout be aesthetically pleasing to look at, but as far as tuners like Van Herck are concerned, if the car doesn't win races then it's existence is without point.
After taking pole position in its class at its debut event despite fuelling and exhaust issues and proving to be a major competitor throughout the 2011 Belgian Touring Car Series, the Van Herck Racing Mazda 3 has stepped up to the Supercar Challenge series for 2012.
So far the little Mazda has been quite competitive despite more teething issues with the relatively new setup, seen here mixing it up with Porsches and Ferraris before being forced to retire with electrical issues. Even so this mighty Mazda is punching well above its weight and once sorted, it should be a force to be reckoned with!
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