Super K Taikyu

The infamous Kei car. A not-so-famous race track. And 3 hours of pure entertainment. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the 3rd round of the Super K Taikyu!

As you might have guessed, the K in the name stands for Kei car. A small car, native to Japan that has a maximum engine capacity of 660cc and is… very small. This whole event is dedicated to only these kinds of cars!

If you’re a frequent reader of this website, you’ll recognise this track, I’m sure. It’s my usual stomping ground, Bihoku Circuit. Usually, it’s split up into B and A course, but every so often an event is held where they combine the circuit to push the lap times above the 1-minute mark! Average lap times on this set-up were around 1.30-1.50 minutes.

I would say that I ventured out to Bihoku Circuit on average 5 to 10 times a year. And every time I went I would see the poster advertising this racing series next to the bathrooms. For 4 years! Not once did I go to see what the fuss was all about. With only a few weeks left in Japan, I made sure I went to the last event of this 3 race series. My last chance to witness Kei car glory.

Before coming to Japan, my knowledge of Kei cars was very limited. And it still is. Thankfully I found a sheet of paper plastered to a wall listing all of the chassis codes of competitor’s cars. The end car here, number 36 appears to be a version of the Suzuki Alto Works with a chassis code of HA22S. Car 29 is another Alto Works, it seems like there are A LOT of different chassis codes for the Suzuki Alto and Alto Works. This one’s code is HA23V. I’ll provide a list of car numbers and chassis codes at the bottom if you’re interested in that kind of information.

This particular race had a total of 37 cars, and it looked like each car had 1 or 2 pilots. With 3 hours on the track, the drivers were expected to pass the 100 lap point just before the end of the race. Could they do it? Let’s find out.

It’s interesting seeing how grip drivers navigate the circuit differently to drift drivers like myself. The first major difference is around corners, their cars are on the opposite diagonal axis, with their wheels turning into the corner. Also, the sheer amount of cars on the track at any given point was surely unique to grip racing. More often than not I’d be getting 2 or more cars in my photos.

My favourite corner to watch was one from the usual A course or touge course. It’s similar to the big corner on B course, just miniaturized. Since we are watching grip racing, of course, the drivers are trying to cut the apex whenever they can, with this corner being no exception. Most cars entered with too much speed, hitting the apex, and with a lot of body roll, having 1 or 2 wheels lifting off the ground.

This was also a great vantage point of the race. From here you can see 3 apexes getting hit. And since it’s a rather long part of the track, sometimes you could witness 3, 4, 5, or maybe more cars running these corners.

At this point, a yellow flag was raised, which meant car park scouting time. Viewers at race events usually have an interesting car, because it’s all in the hobby right? Probably the coolest Kei car, in my opinion anyway, is the Suzuki Alto Works, this version in particular. Nothing looks too funny about it, it’s a good size, sits nice, and has a great selection of aftermarket support.

A Kei car that I’d never buy is this version of the classic Daihatsu Mira. This is a retro-styled version labelled as the Gino. Too much chrome for my taste. However, the racing stripe with the negative logo cut into it is a nice touch.

The newer Alto was also a contender for a spot in my future garage. It’s the 5th generation facelift model. Which had either 34 or 40 kW of pure power from the factory. Although it looks like, from this point the Works version had been discontinued, meaning no more spooling turbos. 8 of the competition cars were this model of the Alto, from a glance it was the most popular choice of the day.

As the cars all caught up to each other on their yellow flag, and safety car at this point. I headed up to the B course car park to see what else I could spot.

Easily the most badass car I could find, and the only Silvia too. 😉

If you’re a fan of unique cars, I’m sure you know all about the Nissan Figaro. The retro classic that’s not actually a classic. It’s a FF 2 door convertible car, with about 20,000 produced. The 1.0 L turbo engine produced 56 kW and 106 N.m of torque via a 3-speed automatic transmission. If you’re after speed, this is not the car for you. But if you’re after style, pay up now, because nothing is more stylish than a sick little Figaro.

While we are on the topic of small convertibles. How about an MX-5? A raggedy, scruffy, broken, scratched, and pink MX-5. I hope it’s a drift car, because why else would it be in such a state of disarray!

Easily my favourite Alto Works of the day. With matching wheels and grill it would be near perfect. If you can’t read the side skirt. It says: We offer the ultimate works to those who really appreciate performance, keep on moving. What a nice little addition to really give off the image of authenticity. In that typical strange, English but not really English that Japan is so well known for.

There were only about 30 minutes to go at this point. And since the safety car had gone and rounded up everybody, it was going to be an exciting sprint to the finish line.

Mayhem I tell you. Going into the first corner, everyone was two wide, side by side, fighting to get in front of the other. Not much elevation meant you could appreciate the whole uninterrupted view of B course, seeing little Kei cars zoom around the tight twists and turns of Bihoku Circuit kept my smile touching my ears.

It was a real push to the finish line. Cars were side by side at all corners of the track. Trying to push their way in front of the next car, chasing down that golden 1st place trophy.

With only 660cc to work with and maybe a turbocharger, it’s not an easy task getting past your competitors. To push past everyone you’d need good suspension, a well-tuned engine, and a very smart pit crew to help you get to the front. And even if you did get to the front, you’d be slowed down by the cars in last place that would appear before you.

As the 3-hour mark hit, I was excited to see who would pass down the line in first place. My heart rate picked up, but I was disappointed as extra time was added! The number 15 car ended up taking first place. Well deserved as he was really giving it his all throughout the whole race. Scroll down to see chassis codes, lap times, and who came in what position.

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Position / Car Number / Fastest Lap / # of Laps / Total Time / Chassis #

01. #15 – 1:25.7 – 111 – 3:01:18.3 – JA4
02. #13 – 1:32.4 – 109 – 3:01:23.6 – JA4
03. #02 – 2:02.0 – 109 – 3:01:25.6 – JA4
04. #07 – 1:36.0 – 109 – 3:02:07.6 – CR22S
05. #06 – 1:29.8 – 109 – 3:02:33.2 – JW5
06. #24 – 1:30.7 – 109 – 3:02:43.3 – HA23V
07. #23 – 1:35.0 – 107 – 3:02:15.3 – L235S
08. #10 – 1:30.3 – 104 – 3:01:41.7 – HA21S
09. #19 – 1:34.9 – 104 – 3:02:10.2 – JA4
10. #14 – 1:37.3 – 103 – 3:02:01.3 – AC6P
11. #34 – 1:31.1 – 102 – 3:01:34.0 – JA2
12. #17 – 1:32.8 – 102 – 3:01:53.2 – JA2
13. #11 – 1:29.7 – 101 – 3:01:38.8 – HA21S
14. #04 – 1:39.9 – 101 – 3:02:09.9 – HA23V
15. #37 – 1:38.5 – 101 – 3:02:12.5 – HA23V
16. #36 – 1:35.7 – 100 – 3:01:55.6 – HA23V
17. #28 – 1:38.5 – 100 – 3:01:57.8 – HA23
18. #01 – 1:33.3 – 100 – 3:02.03.3 – HN22S
19. #18 – 1:37.9 – 099 – 3:01:28.2 – HA23V
20. #09 – 1:32.3 – 098 – 3:01:26.4 – JA4
21. #29 – 1:39.0 – 098 – 3:02:32.2 – JA2
22. #35 – 1:39.4 – 098 – 3:02:32.9 – HA24S
23. #27 – 1:37.8 – 097 – 3:02:54.0 – HA23V
24. #31 – 1.40.7 – 094 – 3:02:54.0 – L250V
25. #26 – 1:36.8 – 093 – 2:43:28.1 – L200S
26. #12 – 1:46.6 – 090 – 3:01:31.8 – HA23V
27. #22 – 1:46.0 – 089 – 3:03:01.6 – KK4
28. #16 – 1:29.9 – 081 – 2:20:04.0 – HA21S
29. #20 – 1:42.9 – 081 – 3:02:35.7 – HA11S
30. #25 – 1:37.6 – 063 – 1:49:11.7 – HA25S
31. #33 – 1:31.9 – 048 – 1:21:55.5 – HA23V
32. #21 – 7:59.3 – 034 – 1:20.38.3 – EA21R
33. #03 – 1:28.6 – 033 – 3:01:18.6 – HA23V
34. #32 – 1:27.6 – 025 – 0:39:55.7 – PP1
35. #05 – 1:29.1 – 011 – 00:16:41.2 – HA21S

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Photos: Shaun Constable | Words: Shaun Constable

Ambition Works 2012 – 2020

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