Mazda unveils 444bhp Furai racer, designed to strengthen links between race and road cars
14 January 2008

Astonishingly, this is the fifth concept car Mazda has produced in a year, all of them in its so-called Nagare series of cars shaped by movements in nature, such as the effect of wind on a sandy desert valley floor. The Furai differs in being a race car. It’s based on the Courage C65 chassis campaigned by Mazda in the American Le Mans Series two seasons ago, and it’s propelled by a 444bhp three-rotor rotary engine. Designer Franz von Holzhausen explains that ‘this is the first time that the Nagare theme is functional,’ the shape of the Furai’s body, and the contours of its surface, employed to direct air where it’s required. Satisfyingly, computational fluid dynamic analysis of what the air was doing ‘produced data that almost replicated the images that we used for inspiration in the first place, so it has come full circle.’The Furai’s shape – it’s name means the sound of the wind – has been inspired by the tails of kites, the grace and beauty of the tail’s whip close to the kite itself emulated at the front, while the chaotic thrashing at the tail end emulated at the busier rear, with its spoiler and air extractors. If all this sounds like the fanciful imaginings of dreamy designers, it’s hard not to like the result, which contains far more beauty and drama than you’ll find in most modern racers. Once Nagare-inspired production cars arrive, the RX-7 expected first, any new Mazda racing car will use this functional version of the theme to strengthen the link between road car and racer, explains von Holzhausen.

Richard Bremner

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