Record Breaker – Esprit Time Attack NSX
Esprit has been specialising in NSX tuning for a long time, always pushing the envelope to shave more seconds off its timings on the circuit. With the most daring and extreme modifications done to it, this NSX looks set to break every lap timing record in Japan. Time attack is a curious discipline. On paper it is probably the least exciting form of motorsport out there. After all, watching cars head out alone for short stints to better their own times is hardly groundbreaking entertainment.
Despite this, the way it has grown and progressed over the years proves that there is an obvious interest keeping it going, and that is in the cars themselves. In Japan time attack has always been about the tuning, with enthusiasts closely following how their favourite demo cars fare at events organized by publications like Rev Speed and Option magazine.
It’s a way of seeing just how far some shops are prepared to go, pushing the boundaries of engine and chassis tuning with almost no regulations holding them back. Cars like the Esprit NSX serve as the perfect example, a car that started off as a bone stock NSX Type-S and now resembles something straight out of a Super GT championship.
Directing The Airflow
Sitting in the quiet and dark pit garage at Suzuka circuit, the Esprit NSX oozes the kind of presence that million dollar race cars usually have. Every detail has been fine tuned for the ultimate performance, from the angular and sculpted wide body to its highly modified engine. It’s all been done in-house at the Esprit workshop, less than a five-minute drive from the world famous Formula 1 track. It’s obvious that no cost has been spared to guarantee ultimate quality and performance.
Take the aero package for example. Everything has been shaped to keep the car planted to the tarmac; massive carbon fibre front and rear diffusers help generate ground effect while the tall rear wing adds high levels of downforce.
The widened front and rear fenders increase the track of the car so it can handle more speed through the corners while air flows over and around it in a more efficient and less turbulent way. Carbon fibre helps shave weight off without compromising rigidity, which is why it is used on the vented front bonnet, which channels air out from the radiator, as well as the doors and engine cover.
Even the trunk lid is made from the exotic material and its massive air scoop forces air through the rear mounted intercooler. Every small detail is functional, from the NACA ducts on the side skirts that cool the rear brakes to the extractors built into the rear bumper. 18-inch Prodrive GC-010G have been chosen for their lightness and run with 265/35 R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE11S semi-slick tyres.
Racing Beast’s Heart
As impressive as this NA1 may be appearance wise, nothing can ever prepare you for what lies beneath its surface. With their goal to create the fastest NSX in Japan and possibly the world, Esprit didn’t take any chances; what needed to be done was simply done, the resulting costs counted as a mere necessity. Inspiration was taken from the Super GT NSXs that used to compete in Japan’s most well known class of motorsport. For ultimate weight balance and simplicity of layout those cars used to run longitudinally mounted engines. This was also done so that a Hewland transaxle sequential transmission could be used, a must in the racing world.
Altering the configuration of a car’s driveline may seem excessive, but not so for Esprit, it seems. They decided to do the same on their NSX, something that called for most of the rear end to be ripped apart. Custom engine mounts were fabricated, along with a steel rear subframe, which would have the job of holding the engine, transmission and some of the suspension components in place. A secondhand Hewland sequential was sourced and fitted onto the now 90º rotated CA30 by means of a custom made bell housing.
With the V6 now sitting “straight” in the chassis a whole new twin turbo system could be designed, an upgraded version of the one in the previous iteration of the demo car. A pair of Trust T517S blowers was mounted on custom manifolds, positioned low on each side of the engine. One-off aluminium piping transports air to the trunk mounted twin-entry intercooler before being channeled to the custom Esprit intake plenum via the Nissan Q45 throttle body.
Engine And Gearbox
To handle the boost and the extreme use it would be put through, the all-alloy V6 was taken apart and fitted with an upgraded bottom end. Joining the balanced C32 crank are the Esprit H-section connecting rods and forged pistons, especially developed for this application. This is all mated to polished and ported heads fitted to special Esprit cams that contribute to making this engine savage in its power delivery.
HKS 700 cc/min injectors keep the engine’s thirst for gas quenched, while an HKS F-Con V Pro ECU handles engine management. The numbers speak for themselves, with 690 ps and 672 Nm of torque on call, a considerable step up from the stock 300 ps or so the NSX was given by the factory. Not wanting to take any chances with potential failures, a custom dry-sup oil lubrication was fitted to the engine, allowing it to be dropped even lower onto the custom mounts and subframe. Large aluminium water lines channel coolant to the radiator mounted up front to keep the engine nice and cool.
The Hewland 6-speed transmission is by far the most expensive part of the transformation, but well worth it with its instant gear changes and ability to handle high power without potential failure. This transaxle-type transmission channels drive through a special OS Giken LSD directly to the rear wheels. HKS was called in to create a one-off version of their adjustable Hipermax Pro dampers to fit this application; these are rock hard items currently set up for Suzuka and Fuji Speedway. Braking is handled by a pair of 6-pot Endless calipers and Brembo F40 4-pots at the rear, all mated to 355mm discs and Endless pads. This helps the 1100 kg Esprit NSX shave off speed efficiently and without drama.
Tarzan’s Bespoke Interior
To continue to find out just how much work went into this project, one has to pop the lightweight carbon doors open, and take a glance at the interior. The first thing that stands out is the carbon fibre box-like firewall, something that had to be created to shield the cabin from the heat and noise the repositioned V6 generates. A 12-point roll cage keeps the driver safe and extends rearward to add more rigidity over the engine bay.
The drive position couldn’t be more purpose-built with a Bride bucket seat mounted closely to the Momo steering wheel and Stack dash unit. From here the driver, which in most cases is none other than the great Tarzan Yamada, has all the controls within reach, including the large shift lever for the Hewland.
An LCD screen shows the view from the camera mounted on the rear bumper, as the carbon engine cover blocks any visibility. With only a lap timer and boost controller to play around with, Tarzan can concentrate on getting the best out of the NSX, something he did earlier in the year at the HKS Premium Day, where he posted a 1’43”594 lap, helping Esprit wins the 2WD class of the Option Max time attack session.
Esprit has been experimenting with the NSX for years now, starting with NA tuning and then moving onto super and turbocharging. Now, however, after finishing this latest version of the car, they are ready to start breaking records, and as we have seen at Fuji the potential for great lap times is there. Next stop will be Tsukuba circuit for the Lap Battle. Will it be able to keep up with beasts like the Revolution RX-7 and Cyber Evo?
Vehicle : Honda NSX
Power : 600 Ps
Torque : 672 Nm
Workshop : Esprit Co., Ltd.
Country : Japan, Suzuka
C30A Engine / Custom Fitted In Longitudinal Position / Custom Engine Mounts / Esprit Forged Pistons / Esprit H-section Connecting Rods / C32 Fully Balanced Crankshaft / Esprit Ported & Polished Heads & Camshafts / Customized Stainless Steel Exhaust Manifolds / Trust T517Z Turbos x 2 / Esprit Stainless Steel Exhaust / Customized Intake Pipes and HKS SPF Filters / Custom Intercooler Piping / Trust Intercooler Core / Esprit Custom End Tanks (Twin Entry) / Nissan Q45 Throttle / Esprit Intake Plenum / HKS Fuel Pump / HKS 700 cc/min Injectors x6 / Esprit Custom Dry Sump Lubrication / Esprit Custom Oil Pan / Esprit Oil Tank / Trust Oil Cooler / Esprit Radiator and Custom Air Separator System / HKS F-Con V Pro
Esprit Full Widebody Kit – Front Bumper, Carbon Fibre Front Diffuser Under Cover, Carbon Fibre Dummy Headlight, Carbon Fibre Bonnet, Wide Front Fenders, Carbon Fibre Doors, GT Side Skirts, Wide Rear Fenders, Rear Bumper, Carbon Fibre Engine Cover, Carbon Fibre Trunk Lid with Intercooler Intake, Adjustable GT Wing, Carbon Fibre Rear Diffuser / Craft Square Carbon Fibre Side Mirrors / PIAA LED Lights
OS Giken Twin Plate Clutch and LSD / Esprit Custom Bell Housing / Hewland 6-speed Sequential Transaxle Transmission / HKS Hiper Max Pro Adjustable Suspension / Esprit Custom Rear Subframe / Endless 6-pot Front Calipers with 355 mm Discs & Brake Pads / Brembo F40 4-pot Rear Calipers & 355 mm Discs / Prodrive GC-010G Wheels 9.5Jx18” Front & Rear / Bridgestone Potenza RE11S Tyres 265/35 R18 Front & Rear
Fully Spot Welded Chassis / Customized Roll Cage & Engine Bay Reinforcement Structure / Carbon Fibre Firewall / Bride Low Max Bucket Seats / HPI Racing Harness / Momo Alcantara Trimmed Steering Wheel with Custom Extended Boss Kit / Stack Dash Unit / HKS Boost Gauge / HKS EVC Black Limited Boost Controller / Lapshot P-LAPII lap timer / Auto Meter Fuel Gauge / Carbon Fibre Centre Console with Rear-View LDC Monitor / Esprit Gear Lever & Linkage
[ Click picture to enlarge ]
Text & Photos By HOTstuff magazine