The pro drifting KoruWorks Nissan 350Z you see on your screen right now has had a whirlwind first year in Formula DRIFT, piloted ably by the affable Ryan Litteral. We go way back with Ryan (well, at least Editor Bob does), meeting him through Andrew Molina and his Ontario, Calif. full-service drift shop, Animal Auto, maybe a decade ago. Like a lot of promising hot shoes we've been introduced to over the years, we continue to be stoked on Ryan's steady rise in the sport, both in terms of competition achievement and popularity.
The Z33 had a pretty tall order for 2018, namely to campaign not simply one but two "pro" series concurrently, those being Formula D Pro and Pro 2; for the uninitiated, Pro 2 is a developmental championship - a "ladder" to the big leagues, if you will - but the competition is nearly as fierce as what you'd find in Pro. The two series travel together, but while Pro teams must face eight contests a season, Pro 2 only has to do four. Litteral already had a Pro license for 2018 from a successful Pro 2 run a year earlier, but decided to do the Pro 2 events as well in order to hedge his bets and get as much seat time as possible.
KoruWorks and Ryan revealed the team up in early March, and after that the Z came together in quick fashion at KoruWorks in Marietta, Ga. There they dropped in the car's 6.8-liter stroked, Vortech supercharged GM LS3 V-8, a mill machined by the folks at Mast Motorsports. Its guts include a Callies DragonSlayer crankshaft, Callies Ultra I-beam rods, and CP Bullet Series pistons, and the oiling system has been upgraded for heavy duty with an ARE dry sump 4-stage system.
Up top, the power plant relies on Air Flow Research Mongoose heads equipped with its stainless intake valves and Inconel exhaust valves, seven-degree titanium retainers, and Yella Terra ultra-lite rockers. KoruWorks made the custom intake, which feeds a Holley high-ram manifold, while exhaust heads out Fueled Racing headers and KoruWorks' X-pipe exhaust, and the suck-squish-bang-blow is managed by Haltech Elite 2500 ECU. A Clutch Masters clutch and flywheel transfer power to the four-speed GSR gearbox, which is then routed to a Winters quick-change rear end and diff, and ultimately the rear wheels via Driveshaft Shop axles. At tuning before their first round, the KoruWorks 350Z made 973 horsepower and 780 lb.-ft. of torque.
Proper drift stance is facilitated through Fortune Auto's two-way pro Dreadnought coilover suspension and 18-inch Konig Ampliform rims in dark metallic graphite and enrobed in Nexen NFera Sur4 rubber. In the unlikely instance he needs to stop the Z, Ryan can with Wilwood brake rotors, calipers, and pads.
Functionality is great and all, but let's not beat around the bush - this car captured our attention because it looks hot as fire. The exterior appearance is executed through an interesting blend of body bits, specifically Rocket Bunny front bumper, splitter, fenders, and rear spoiler; OEM side skirts and rear bumper; and Seibon Carbon hood, hatch, doors, and rear quarters; Matrix Devil's Gold candy paint and overlaid graphics dreamed up by Factory 83 tie it all together. The cabin, meanwhile, has been festooned in NRG Innovations - FIA approved seats and harnesses, SFI quick release, short race hub, and NRG/KoruWorks special edition steering wheel.
The team aimed for a Long Beach debut in April, but life happened and before long that goal was pushed to Round 2 (or Round 1 for Pro 2) at Road Atlanta in May, where after sorting out the car for most of the event wound up getting in only two practice laps - which coincidentally happened to be Ryan's first and second Pro 2 qualifying runs! It was a hectic first contest for driver and car, but ended well, with Ryan making it all the way to the semifinals before getting eliminated. After Atlanta, Litteral and KoruWorks qualified for Pro in New Jersey and Pro 2 in St. Louis, and then in Texas had another breakout performance, this time in Pro and going as deep as the Great 8! The season began and ended on high notes, and we know Ryan has been excited about his first year in the KoruWorks Z33, but somehow we've always known the guy has had it in him. With the right car under him, like this killer of a 350Z, Litteral is as good as anyone competing at the top levels of the sport today - and now he has the means to prove it.