Anyone who has seen pro driver Kyle Mohan drift knows he can coax awe-inspiring angles from his stout 2009 Mazda RX-8. Mohan, 27, hails from Long Beach, Calif., and works at nearby Mazdatrix in Signal Hill. A true-grit rotary fanatic, Mohan is an engine builder at the famed Mazda tuning house, so it’s no surprise that he had a hand in creating the fortified 13B that powers his drift machine.
Under the Kyle Mohan Racing (KMR) banner, Mohan handled all the milling, studding, porting and polishing, as well as a good deal of the assembly. The 13B is fitted with the latest go-fast gear, starting with a race-balanced REW concentric shaft that has been polished and WPC treated to endure torturous rpms.
The rotors have been side cut and hardened and the stationary gears received a three-window race bearing modification that keeps the rotors from walking on the shaft and self-destructing. A set of Iannetti one-piece ceramic apex seals also play a major role in the reliability and power output of the 13B.
Like the internal hard parts in his previous car, a 1991 FC-chassis RX-7, all the current engine’s vital pieces have been WPC treated. WPC is a fine-particle shotpeening process that enhances the surface of metal to reduce friction and strengthen the part.
By firing ultra fine particles at the surface of a component at very high speeds, the resulting thermal discharge permanently changes the surface, strengthening the ionic structure and creating a harder more durable final product.
With fully armored internals, it was time for Mazdatrix and KMR to pressurize the powerplant. KMR selected a Turbonetics GTK 550 “Drift Special” turbo with top secret housing A/Rs. What isn’t a secret is the big power the GTK pumps out—how’s 470 wheel horsepower?
The high-revving rotary is controlled by a Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 ECU installed by Ash and Jason at Blur Industries in Long Beach and tuned by Nelson Siverio. The turbo system runs a traditional-in-rotary-applications V-mount intercooler setup featuring a Spearco core, a New Gen Turbonetics wastegate and a Turbonetics blow-off valve. Maximum boost is listed as: “as much as we need.”
Power is only a fraction of the drift equation, as the driveline and suspension also figure prominently in attaining the harsh angles that impress the all-seeing judges.
A sturdy Jerico four-speed manual handles gear engagements; there is no need for fifth- and sixth-gear cruising modes during a drift session. An Exedy lightweight Racing-spec flywheel and carbon twin-disc clutch assembly ensure quick shifts while a KAAZ, two-way LSD differential with a 4.7 ring-and-pinion absorbs untold amounts of abuse. For added durability, KMR had the LSD’s inner workings WPC treated.
The RX-8 relies on JIC FLT-TAR coilovers with custom dampening by JIC North America to manage high g-forces at the edge of adhesion. The coilovers are 15-way double adjustable, giving the KMR crew control over both damping and rebound.
Racing Beat roll bars, Mazdatrix adjustable end links, JIC tie-rods and spindles modified by KMR and Mazdatrix all work together to give the RX-8 additional steering angle so Kyle can swing the tail out wide and still be able to catch it and reel it in for the next drift. The rear suspension features JIC camber links, JIC toe links and JIC traction bars that keep the tires planted so Kyle can control the drift with his right foot as well as the steering wheel.
Chassis modifications are like the foundation of a house, the stronger it is the better. KMR seam welded the body and installed a TC Sportline chassis under-car brace, JIC strut tower brace and a tig-welded roll cage by Henry Schelley.
Mark Tora massaged the RX-8’s aggressive body, which features Bergenholtz Racing-designed rear fender flares. Mazdatrix’s neighbor, Signal Hill Auto Body, sprayed the Mazda in Performance White, and when we asked Kyle if there were any special procedures, he said he just passed all the pieces over the fence and yelled, “I need them back tomorrow morning!”
Fans of Kyle’s highly competitive old-school Turbo II will do a double-take when they first see the new RX-8. The rotor graphics and sponsor stickers are the same, as is the Performance White paint and the car number, 99, but the new steed is a true pure bred – built from the ground up to master the power slide.
WPC treated REW eccentric shaft
WPC treated, matched, balanced REW rotors
Iannetti one-piece ceramic apex seals
Mazdatrix high horsepower/drift street port
Ceramic coated Turbonetics GTK ball-bearing turbo
External Turbonetics wastegate
Turbonetics blow-off valve
Ported stock REW intake manifold
JSP custom tubular exhaust manifold
KMR/Mazdatrix 3” stainless steel exhaust
Aeromotive A1000 fuel pump
Aeromotive pressure regulator
Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 ECU
GReddy oil breather tank
KMR V-mount setup
Polished manifold and piping
Jerico 4-speed gearbox with and internals
Mazdatrix short-throw shifter
Exedy lightweight carbon double disc clutch
Exedy lightweight flywheel
Kaaz 2-way LSD WPC treated gears
MAZDASPEED 4.3:1 final drive ratio rear end
Racing Beat anti-sway bars
Mazdatrix steering angle and spindle mod
Formula D-spec roll cage
JIC strut tower brace
JIC camber links
JIC tow links
JIC traction bars
Baker Precision lines
Bergenholtz Racing rear flares
Performance White paint by Signal Hill Auto Body
KMR graphics – gold, black, reflective orange, red, chrome
Sparco 6-point camlock harness
Haltech IQ-3 datalogger dash
Carbon-fiber dash panels by KMR