Though time attack tends to favor four-wheel drive machines, there are a few rear-wheel drive entries that, with incisive handling and plenty of aero grip on their side, manage to compete at the sharp end of the pack. One of such cars is Top Fuel’s S2000. Since 2006, Japanese tuning shop Top Fuel have been gunning for the top step with this all-out bruiser: a machine which boasts a svelte frame from carbon body panels, and the grunt needed to outrun GT-Rs.

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The F20C powerplant has been through a few iterations over the years. As of late, it’s fed by a CGC Garrett GTX3582R turbocharger at 32 pounds, which produces as much as 800 horsepower at 7,100 rpm! Boost response is aided by a bump in displacement to 2.2 liters, and resilience to the greater internal pressure comes from a Darton-sleeved block. Pauter rods, 9:1 compression CP pistons, and a Brian Crower crankshaft round out the internals, Bosch fuel pumps and 1000cc injectors quench the F20’s thirst, and everything is kept in check with an HKS V-Con Pro. 

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That colossal power output is sent to the custom FD3S rear end via an ATS twin-disc carbon clutch mated to a Holinger RD6S sequential gearbox. That motor provides the thrust to fly down longer straights like the ones at Fuji, where the Top Fuel S2000 snagged an incredible 1:39.1 lap; putting it squarely ahead of former, top-dog Cyber Evo.

Underneath the Voltex carbon widebody kit are Endless Zeal Function coilovers and Advan TCIII wheels, which are shod in 295-section Advan A050 tires and house Endless four-piston brakes. The Endless brake catalog is thrown in there, too—with that sort of acceleration and aerodynamic grip, some serious binders are needed. Linear-wound Eibach springs and Ikeya Formula suspension arms control the ride height and aero platform, which is crucial with such an aero-dependent machine. 

In fact, Taniguchi-san, Voltex, and Top Fuel worked specifically on their underbody to try and improve high-speed stability. Initially, inconsistent airflow over and under the car made it twitchy and nervous, and though Taniguchi’s smooth driving can tame the most nervous of cars, they needed to develop their kit further.

Thankfully, some wind tunnel testing at Mie University allowed the team to revise their aero kit not only to make more overall downforce, but to balance downforce over the front and rear axles for more neutrality and a predictable handling balance.

Though one would expect the S2000 to turn into corners with plenty of precision, it doesn’t show any of the typical nervousness at speed. Running through Tsukuba’s frightening Turn 12, Taniguchi looks like he’s on a casual Sunday cruise. He simply turns in, rolls on the throttle and deploys 800 horsepower without a hint of opposite lock. That’s part of the reason he snagged a 51.2-second lap at Tsukuba, but it doesn’t explain its success in hairpins, where downforce isn’t as relevant.

What’s truly impressive is that a car with this layout can put the power down so cleanly in slow corners. As Taniguchi reaches the apex of Turn Two, he winds the motor out and rockets down the subsequent straight with hardly any steering correction or wheelspin! Chalk it up to a good alignment, sticky tires, and a progressive power delivery, but that sort of traction is more like a GT-R than an FR car.