For years, our northern neighbors in Canada have held a one-make racing series featuring modified versions of the plucky, perfectly under-powered Nissan Micra. Now that the Micra is (sadly) dead in Canada, the series has added a class for the dramatically more powerful, 149-horsepower Nissan Sentra, and I bet they’re excited.
In creating a Micra Cup car, the Micra’s interior was gutted to make room for a racing steering wheel, an FIA-approved racing seat, a five-point driver harness, fire extinguisher, a safety cage and a window net. It also got racing suspension, a modified exhaust, high-performance brake pads and stylized Fastwheels wheels with Pirelli low-profile high-performance tires.
What was great about the Micra series was it took one of Canada’s cheapest street cars and turned it into a “cheap racecar.” The result was a gaggle of tiny, 109-HP hatches going at each other from May to September since 2015.
Because the Micra won’t be available anymore, the racing series had to make a dramatic switch to something new: the recently updated 149-HP Nissan Sentra, though existing Micras will still be allowed to compete. The same team that modified the Micras is back again for the Sentra. They’re starting with S trim-equipped production cars with six-speed manual transmissions (not available on the U.S. Sentra).
Here are the modifications made to the new Sentra racer, per Nissan:
Modifications to the Sentra to render it race-ready include: bespoke adjustable coil over racing suspension; Nissan performance 4 pot front calipers with 355mm x 32mm rotors; stainless steel braided brake lines; MoTeC M1 Series ECM; an adjustable front anti-roll bar and racing steering wheel with quick-release steering hub.
When it comes to safety, the Sentra Cup race car has: an FIA Spec 6 point Roll Cage; FIA- Homologated Racing Seat; FIA- homologated 6 point restraint harness; FIA-homologated window net; FIA-approved Electric 4L Fire Suppression System AFFF; solid state electronic battery isolator and front and rear tow hooks.
On the exterior, Sentra’s existing strong stance has been enhanced with a rear spoiler from the sporty Sentra SR model, as well as rear calipers and rotors from the Sentra SV and SR. The Sentra Cup race car has a bespoke stainless steel exhaust system; and lightweight, black 18" x 9" alloy racing wheels with 265/645/18 tires.
This new Sentra racer has a number of performance improvements compared with the one it replaces, including its new 2.0-liter engine making 149 HP and 149 lb-ft of torque — a 20 percent and 17 percent increase over the previous 1.8-liter Sentra engine, respectively. The base car gets a 2.2-inch lower overall height — lowering its center of gravity — and 2-inch wider track. Nissan claims the new Sentra design’s drag coefficient is 0.29, which would be the same as the current Nissan 370Z sports car.
The first race with the new car is set to kick off in May 2021, and the price of entry (or at least the racecar) is $39,990 CAD, or roughly equivalent to $31,000 in the U.S. The good news is those Micra racecars are still around and won’t go anywhere anytime soon:
Sentra Cup drivers will be at the front of the pack, with the Class Micra drivers positioned behind them. For each race, there will be the usual top three podium finishes, but separated between Class Micra and Sentra Cup drivers. The Class Micra category will also include podium wins for rookies, while the Sentra Cup category will include the same for seniors. At the end of the season, there will be one champion for the Sentra Cup, and one for the Class Micra.
Sounds like a fantastic series. If only I were a Canadian with money.