Mazda tests the tar­mac

The rally se­ries looks to move for­ward, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

THIS week­end’s Tas­ma­nian Tar­mac Chal­lenge is one of the most im­por­tant events in the 41-year his­tory of the Aus­tralian Rally Cham­pi­onship.

For the first time the se­ries will stage an all-tar­mac event, and Mazda is us­ing it as part of its eval­u­a­tion process for join­ing the se­ries next year.

Mazda’s com­pet­ing would give the se­ries a much-needed boost in the wake of sev­eral dis­ap­point­ing sea­sons dur­ing which Ford, Mit­subishi and Subaru with­drew their sup­port.

Honda has al­ready an­nounced it will join the se­ries next sea­son with a Civic Type R it has used on se­lected ral­lies this year.

Mazda has ruled out build­ing a Su­per 2000 spec­i­fi­ca­tion car to com­pete against Toy­ota’s Corolla and is in­ter­ested in a new (for 2009) two-wheel-drive class.

Mazda will run a Mazda3 MPS this week­end driven by Bren­dan Reeves and his co-driv­ing sis­ter, Rhi­anon Smyth.

‘‘We’ve dis­cussed with CAMS the in­tro­duc­tion of the new ARC reg­u­la­tions and the in­tro­duc­tion of a sep­a­rate cham­pi­onship for pro­duc­tion- based two- wheeldrive cars,’’ Mazda Aus­tralia motorsport man­ager Al­lan Hors­ley says. ‘‘There is still con­sid­er­able de­bate to be had about the al­lo­ca­tion of points. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are wait­ing to be told how it will all work. In the mean­time, we see this as a valu­able op­por­tu­nity for our team to take part in an ARC event, which may be in prepa­ra­tion for 2009.

‘‘In short, Mazda needs to be con­vinced the reg­u­la­tions CAMS is propos­ing will con­sider two wheel-drive pro­duc­tion cars on an equal foot­ing with highly mod­i­fied, four-wheel-drive cars.’’

Rally to the cause: Rhi­anon Smyth and Bren­dan Reeves will com­pete in the Tas­ma­nian Tar­mac Chal­lenge.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.