There were highs and lows aplenty for Mazda Motorsport today as its triple turbo treat hit the streets of George Town for the 2009 Targa Tasmania Prologue.
In what was a great start to Mazda’s 2009 Targa Tasmania campaign, the turbocharged Mazda3 MPS of first-time Targa competitor Brendan Reeves was the quickest two-wheel drive car in the event’s Showroom competition today.
Reeves and his co-driving sister Rhianon Smyth completed the tight and twisty 5km tarmac stage in just three mins 31secs, only two seconds from the quickest Showroom car.
“It was great to finally get our Targa Tasmania campaign underway,” said 20-year-old Reeves. “The car felt fantastic today and our strategy for the rest of the event is to get to the end of each day and finish at the top of the Showroom leader board.”
Rick Bates and his co-driver Anthony McLoughlin, also in a Mazda3 MPS, finished third in Showroom and only one second behind his younger team mate.
“It was a nice clean run for the Mazda3 MPS today,” said Bates. “Our car is in really great form and I’m looking forward to getting into the event.”
“It also looks like Brendan and I are in for some healthy competition, which is great because it keeps both of us on our toes and focused on the end goal – finishing with a great result.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t smooth sailing for the Mazda RX-8 SP crewed by 2008 Targa champions, Steve Glenney and Bernie Webb, in the Modern Competition.
The Mazda RX-8 SP, still under Mazda Motorsport development, experienced a small electrical gremlin causing the rotary-powered sports coupe to lose turbo boost two corners into the stage.
The problem is able to be corrected and the Mazda Motorsport team will work on the car overnight to ensure the Mazda RX-8 SP is in fine fettle for day one of racing.
“The Mazda RX-8 SP felt fantastic before we lost boost,” said Glenney of his Mazda RX-8 SP. “Of course it’s a little disappointing that the car wasn’t running at full capacity, but the development of this car was always going to be a steep learning curve.
“I am confident the Mazda team will have the car in top-notch condition ready for day one of serious competition.”
Mazda motorsport manager Allan Horsley was delighted with the performance of team today and is confident all three cars will produce good results this Targa.
“I am just ecstatic with both Brendan and Rick’s result,” said Horsley. “Once again the showroom-spec Mazda3 MPS is demonstrating its outstanding rally capabilities in this very challenging event.
“We had a minor set-back with the Mazda RX-8 SP but if you’re going to have teething problems in this rally, Prologue is a good day to find them. We still have the opportunity to correct any issue with the car and have it ready for competition proper.”
Day One of Targa Tasmania comprises a 325km loop north of Launceston. Competition cars will drive 71 competitive kilometres over nine stages, stopping in Beaconsfield for lunch.