Mazda Australia has confirmed next week’s Targa Tasmania tarmac rally will be the final factory competition outing for the acclaimed, original-model Mazda3 MPS hot-hatch.
The much-anticipated New Generation Mazda3 MPS will hit Australian shores around September with a host of mechanical upgrades and a stunning new look that will raise the bar on an already winning formula.
But Mazda’s next flagship high-performance hatch will have to wait patiently on the sidelines as its predecessor gets set to contest one of the world’s toughest tarmac rallies.
Mazda Motorsport has readied two current-generation Mazda3 MPS rally cars for the Tasmanian rally from April 28-May 3. A turbocharged Mazda RX-8 SP completes the company’s most potent assault on the 2000km event in 10 years.
“The current Mazda3 MPS is a fantastic car to go rallying with – especially in Targa,” says Mazda motorsport manager Allan Horsley. “The Mazda3 MPS has won its class three times and it finished 10th outright in 2007 – but there’s always room for improvement.
“There have been some pretty significant changes made to the New Generation Mazda3 MPS,” continues Horsley. “These changes will equate to significant improvements in real-world performance and handling.
“It has a stiffer body, its suspension package has been upgraded for a more comfortable ride and torque delivery has been optimised for a more responsive drive.
“It’s too early to say if we’re going to rally the new car next year, but we’ve always viewed Targa Tasmania as a good way to showcase our cars and how they perform in an intense, real-world rally environment.”
The 190 kilowatt, 380Nm front-wheel drive hot-hatch has a proven pedigree in Targa Tasmania.
In 2007 resident Mazda driver Rick Bates finished 10th outright amid a field of highly modified four-wheel drive rally cars and racing exotica. Last year Alister McRae won the Showroom Competition and equalled the time of the 4WD Showroom winner.
This year Rick Bates is back for his eighth Targa Tasmania, his fourth with Mazda. Young gun Brendan Reeves will drive the other Mazda3 MPS and reigning Targa champion Steve Glenney has been drafted to pilot the Mazda RX-8 SP.
The twin Mazda3 MPS rally cars will contest the event’s Showroom Competition while the Mazda RX-8 SP will compete in the Modern Competition. All are competing for outright honours.
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