Mazda Australia’s show-stopping Mazda2 Extreme will make its long-awaited rally debut in Canberra this weekend at the penultimate round of the New South Wales rally championship.
This Saturday October 25 the rally-ready Mazda2 Extreme will contest the National Capital Rally; a challenging one-day, 12hr gravel endurance race held over 300km of closed forest roads in the ACT’s Brindabella Ranges.
The Mazda2 Extreme is the fourth in Mazda Motorsport’s iconic series of extreme makeovers. It is based on the obscenely popular new-generation Mazda2 small car and was unveiled to critical acclaim at the Melbourne Motor Show earlier this year.
Sydney-based motoring journalist and rally first-timer Nathan Ponchard is in the Mazda2 Extreme’s hot seat, while experienced co-driver Simone Bachmann will call the corners.
In preparation for his rally debut Ponchard has honed his competitive driving skills under the expert tutelage of Mazda Targa driver Rick Bates. Bates finished a stunning tenth outright for Mazda at the 2007 Targa Tasmania in a production standard Mazda3 MPS.
Ponchard is understandably nervous, yet quietly confident ahead of his rally debut.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge of putting into practice what I’ve learned. With the support and professionalism of the Mazda Motorsport team behind me and my fun-to-drive Mazda2 as my weapon, we’re sure to put on a good show.”
Since its official unveiling earlier this year further refinements have been made to the Mazda2 Extreme to enhance its rally capabilities. Extensive testing led to improvements in the car’s Murray Coote-tuned suspension package, and the fitment of high-performance brakes.
Suspension guru Coote configured a suspension package that tweaks the Mazda2's production suspension for the dirt-road intensity of rally competition. Sports-tuned springs and shock absorbers are teamed with purpose-built 15-inch Bridgestone Potenza rally tyres and lightweight Compomotive Motorsport alloy wheels.
Mazda Motorsport boss Allan Horsley said the weekend’s event is a chance to celebrate the Mazda2’s sales success in Australia.
“The Mazda2 is incredibly popular with Australians attracted to its style and economical yet exciting driving ways. Our goal with the Mazda2 Extreme is to showcase these characteristics that make the Mazda2 a small-car standout in the heat of battle.”
The second-generation Mazda2 has been a runaway success with critics and consumers alike. It won the 2007 World Car of the Year and has notched up more than 16,500 sales since its Australian launch in September 2007.
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