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Official Mazda Furai Press Release
Submitted by Dan Mazzella on Sunday, January 13, 2008 - 9:03am




NAGARE: (pronounced
“na-ga-reh”), Japanese for flow

the embodiment of motion

FURAI:     (pronounced “foo-rye”),
Japanese for sound of the wind


Furai is the sort of car that could
only come from a company that incorporates the “Soul of a Sports Car” into
everything it builds, but with an eye toward the future and the environment
through the use of renewable fuels. 
Driving toward sustainability, Furai was initially tuned to operate on
100 percent ethanol fuel, the first time a racing three-rotor rotary engine has
been fueled by ethanol.  

Research continues in earnest with partner BP into other renewable and
future fuels, including ethanol gasoline blends like E10.

On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas and Mazda-powered cars
road-raced in North America than any other brand of car.  This is because every Mazda sedan,
coupe and sports car really is developed with the highest possible dose of the
company’s trademark Zoom-Zoom – truly the Emotion of Motion.

However, Zoom-Zoom is more than simply vehicle performance.  The look and style that is Zoom-Zoom
can best be seen in previous NAGARE-based efforts, including the Mazda Nagare
concept that debuted at Los Angeles in 2006; Mazda Ryuga, which was first shown
a year ago in Detroit; Mazda Hakaze, which appeared in Geneva last year; and
Mazda Taiki, the star of the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.

“Nagare” is how Mazda’s future models will sustain the Zoom-Zoom spirit
by exhibiting their strong affinity for motion.

Manufacturers commonly showcase design studies with little or no
intention of actually using the theme presented.  Mazda’s approach is the opposite: All of the Nagare
concepts, including Furai, help evolve this evocative surface language for
future use.   Every vehicle
Mazda sells embodies the soul of a sports car to achieve a true Zoom-Zoom
dynamic character.  Nagare is how
this celebration of motion will be portrayed on interior and exterior surfaces
in future models.  Instead of form
following function, the two merge as one.

Franz von Holzhausen, Mazda North American Operations’ (MNAO) Director
of Design and the person who lead the team that created the Furai, explains the
concept behind the concept, “We were looking for a way to bridge the gap
between Mazda Motorsports and the production vehicles in our lineup. 

The mindsets of road-car and racing
car fans are quite different, so the purpose of Furai is to find a meeting
point for these disparate interests.”

He continued, “Furai achieves this by purposely blurring boundaries that
have traditionally distinguished the street from the track.  Historically, there has been a gap
between single-purpose racecars and street-legal models — commonly called
supercars — that emulate the real racers on the road.”

cars are, by their competitive nature, ill-suited for practical highway use, as
well as generally far from road-legal. 
Some supercars visit the track on occasion, but they are primarily road
cars not properly equipped for racing. 
The aim of Furai is to bridge this gap.

That said, Mazda neither intends to race Furai, nor is it a supercar the
company plans to build and sell in the near future.  Rather, Furai is a design study that lives between those
extremes.  Without the restrictions
imposed by serial production models, and with the freedom of an autoshow
environment, Mazda is using the opportunity to evolve the company’s Nagare
design theme one more step closer to reality.

Instead of mimicking racecar components and design elements in a road
car – the strategy preferred by supercar manufacturers – the “Mazda
way” was to begin this project with the real McCoy: a Courage C65 chassis that
earned its stripes during two seasons of LMP-2 endurance racing in the American
Le Mans Series (ALMS).  This sports
car was successfully campaigned under the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development
banner by B-K Motorsports during

the 2005 and 2006 seasons.  Drivers Jamie Bach, Guy Cosmo, Elliott
Forbes-Robinson, and Raphael Matos piloted the car to one victory and a total
of nine podium finishes in 15 ALMS events.  B-K finished third in championship standings both years;
Bach and Cosmo were co-Rookies of the Year in 2005.

“Anticipating future rules changes in the ALMS, we created a new closed
cockpit which would be more appropriate for a future production model,” said
von Holzhausen.  “The major element
we did not change is the 450-horsepower RENESIS-based R20B three-rotor rotary
engine that provides Furai ample Zoom-Zoom.  The ultimate Mazda in our minds is rotary powered; as a
company, we have no intention of abandoning that valuable asset. When people
think of the very best sports cars in the world, the rotary powered Mazda RX-7
is always on that list.”

The Furai concept serves as a turning point in the Nagare developmental
process.  While the four previous
concept cars explored different ways to express Mazda’s emerging design
philosophy and to explore an aesthetic, this one is all about function –

every last texture and detail serves some functional purpose.  In essence, the Furai creative process
boiled down to guiding air over and through the body in fruitful ways. To prove
that this concept goes far beyond static aerodynamic analysis, Mazda’s design,
motorsports and R&D teams worked together to construct Furai as a 180-mph
rolling laboratory to demonstrate its functional capabilities on demand.

“The basic proportions of contemporary race cars are every designer’s
dream,” enthused von Holzhausen. 
“Furai is less than 40-inches high but nearly 80-inches wide.”

While Furai strikes an incredibly strong presence, the real beauty of
the project – and it’s most valuable asset as a real-world test-bed
– is in the details that von Holzhausen and his team incorporated:


-       The body surface
provides ample opportunity to feature core design elements such as aggressive
headlamps and Mazda’s trademark five-point grille. 

-       The headlamp trim
pieces function as guide frames to help cancel aerodynamic lift. 

-       High-pressure zones
just above the front wheels are relieved to serve the same end.

-       The air flow
package takes air moving under the front of the car and guides it inside the
body to the engine-cooling radiators.

-       Nagare textures
incorporated in the side surfaces feed air to the rear brakes, the oil cooler
and the transmission cooler.

-       An under-car
diffuser that begins rising aft of the cockpit helps draw the volume of air
flowing through the heat exchangers and engine bay out the rear.


The Mazda design and R&D teams worked closely with Swift Engineering
to refine the aerodynamic characteristics, assuring that Furai remains glued to
the ground at high speeds.  Through
its existing relationship with Swift Engineering, forged through development of
the Mazda/Cosworth-powered Champ Car Atlantic chassis, the team used complex
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software to tune various Nagare design
elements to function at a high degree of efficiency.  Drag, downforce, lift and overall esthetics were all key

Sourced straight from the race track, the Courage carbon-composite tub
is essentially intact under the new Furai body, including the right-side
driver’s seat.  Instead of the
stark interior typical of race cars though, this cockpit is finished with more
comfortable but still highly functional surfaces.  An electronic display screen and shift paddles are built
into the steering wheel.

In the chassis’ original racing configuration, the passenger seat is
filled with electronic gear, so those components were relocated elsewhere to
provide adequate space for two occupants. 

The greenhouse is somewhat wider than the original cockpit to provide
adequate head and shoulder room and suitable outward visibility.  Doors attached with butterfly hinges
provide a very efficient means of entering the cockpit.  In this instance, the design team followed
an approach that has proven very effective during years of endurance racing.


“One thing we learned from CFD studies is that we don’t need much rear
wing to balance the down force created by the front splitter and the Nagare
features we’ve sculpted into the body” offered von Holzhausen.  “Combustion air is provided by a
variation of the Turbo Tongue device that Swift developed for Indy car use a
decade ago.  It rises slightly

higher than the surrounding roof surface to ingest clean air above the
boundary layer.   Our final
design works so well that we applied for a joint patent with Swift.  Of course, it helps that it’s a real
piece of art, too, and one we had to incorporate into the design.”

Irvine, Calif.-based Aria Group was responsible for creating new
composite panels and they worked hand-in-hand with Mazda North American
Operations’ own in-house fabrication team to mate them to the Courage
chassis.  The dark matte finish
with red and orange accents harkens back to the livery worn by Mazda’s legendary
787B when it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1991, making the company the first
– and still only – Japanese company to ever win the endurance

Furai not only probes future design possibilities, it also ventures
ahead with alternative renewable fuels. 
Consistent with Mazda’s recently announced “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom”
initiatives, Furai’s three-rotor powerplant has been tuned to run powerfully on
ethanol (ethyl alcohol) and ethanol gasoline blends.  There are exciting advances being made in renewable fuels,
from current blends like E10 (10% ethanol and 90% gasoline) with research
ongoing in making Ethanol from cellulostic materials, to future renewable
gasoline components like Butanol, a higher order alcohol which is fungible with
gasoline.  The addition of these
renewable components improves Mazda’s understanding of how these fuels work
with the company’s technology. and reduces the consumption of fossil
hydrocarbons and the emission of harmful greenhouse gasses.

John Doonan, Mazda’s manager of motorsports team development, explains
the thinking behind Furai’s use of alternative renewable fuels: “One of our key
technical partners in our motorsports activity — BP — helped
facilitate our use of renewable fuels for this concept vehicle.  Going forwards, we are working with BP
to determine appropriate renewable fuels for the vehicle and potentially our
team entry for the 2008 ALMS series. 
BP is a strong leader in the renewable fuels areas, recently announcing
a $500M investment in the Energy Biosciences Institute, and we are proud to
partner with them.”

Doonan continued, “In 2007, ALMS required use of renewable fuels, so
we’re projecting ahead with this application to gain experience.  BP has a very green focus in the
marketplace, and it’s Mazda’s intention to sustain its Zoom-Zoom performance
image on and off the racetrack. 
While Mazda’s rotary has proven readily adaptable to various alternative
fuels, including considerable work with hydrogen fuel, this is the first time
it’s been engineered for other renewable Ethanol blends.”

Through the BP partnership, Furai has been specially tuned to operate on
renewable fuels.  BP engineers
continue to work to optimize other fuels, including investigating new future
renewable fuel components.  This is
Mazda’s first experience with ethanol fuel in a three-rotor racing engine, and
the results have been convincing that, once again, the Mazda rotary engine is
unique in its ability to run well on multiple fuels.

Ethanol is derived from grains such as corn and wheat or soybeans.  Corn, the predominant feedstock, is
converted to ethanol in either a dry or wet milling process.  Future advances for renewable gasoline
components include utilizing a wide variety of cellulosic biomass feedstocks,
including agricultural plant wastes (corn stover, cereal straws, sugarcane
bagasse), plant wastes from industrial processes (sawdust, paper pulp) and
energy crops grown specifically for fuel production, such as switchgrass.

But what Furai has shown the Mazda team is the real value of teamwork
and key partners:

-       Racing Beat worked
tirelessly to develop the world’s only ethanol powered three-rotor rotary

-       Mother’s Waxes and
Polishes supplies an extensive range of waxes, polishes, and cleaners to keep
the car looking its best at all times. 

-       Together with
Liferacing, AER developed a six-speed paddle-shift mechanism.

-       Brembo worked with
the Mazda team to ensure the brakes were as effective on Furai as they were in

-       Sachs and Eibach
worked together to bring an aggressive, but steetable, shock and spring

-       Nippon Paint
provided the amazing three-feet-deep paintwork.

-       Castrol supplies
all the high-performance lubricants.

-       Mazda’s 2006 and
2007 ALMS tire development partner Kumho created the special tread patterns
necessary for Furai’s tires.

-       Wheels are from
partner BBS, and are 14-spoke, centerlock aluminum.

-       Seatbelts come from
Sparco Motor Sports.

-       Data acquisition
and powertrain controllers are manufactured and tuned by MoTeC, one of the
world’s leaders in racing electronics.

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Furai at Laguna Seca
February 7, 2008 - 12:09pm
This is wild :drool:
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