Mazda reckons on victory in Targa Tasmania

31 01 2008

Mazda big wigs have thrown down the gauntlet for their 2008 Targa Tasmania campaign in the Mazda3 MPS. In a press release they have stated “We’ll win the Showroom competition and finish in the top ten.” With the driver talent they’ve lined up, they might just do it to.

Alister McRae poses with a Mazda3 

Alister McRae and Rick Bates have both signed as drivers for the event, considered by many to be the premier tarmac rally in Australia. McRae brings with him the experience of over 75 WRC events and the prestigious title of former British Rally Champion. Meanwhile, Rick Bates took out the class win in the 2007 Targa and ranked tenth in the outright placing, an incredible run for a standard production vehicle, especially considering it was only outperformed by race specification or rally cars.

In the 2WD showroom category the competitor listings currently only show 3 Peugot 206’s. With only 130kW on tap the Peugot’s will be monstered by the Mazda3’s turbocharged 190kW and 360Nm. While a class win should be assured, taking a tenth placing outright will prove a challenge for the car.

Rick Bates with the 2007 Car

In the racing categories the Mazda drivers will be facing no less that 36 Porches, 27 Mitsubishi Evo’s, 13 WRX’s, 10 Skylines, 2 Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera’s, 5 BMW M vehicles plus many more, almost all of which will be race prepped.

Its definitely a big ask for a FWD mass produced hatchback to take 10th in the Targa. But having taken 10th last year in the same car, Mazda’s little hatchback that could, looks like its going to again.

2007 car in action

Ohh… is this still on… well while I’m on the air I might as well have a little rant… In Targa Tasmania there is a non racing category, were drivers get to take their rare cars out for a spin on some very nice roads, and members of the public get to see some amazingly exclusive vehicles in action. Naturally the number of places are extremely limited, and the cars are hand picked to ensure the public get to see some truly memorable machinery.

So what kinda of car made this exclusive list? Well out of the 35 entrants currently listed, there are three BMW M3’s all built between 1994 & 2002, A Mazda MX5 and a Mazda MX5 SE of the same era, plus the worst of the lot, 9 Porsches! Now the 356 I understand, and maybe have an old 911 and a new 911 to show how they’ve gradually changed over the years. But over a 1/4 of the exhibition field look like the same bloody car!

I love Targa Tasmania, its a fantastic rally held in a beautiful location. But if the organisers don’t start picking up their game, the fans aren’t going to bother. And if you lose the fans you lose the event. It is simply not acceptable to have the exhibition fields populated by the same old cars we see pottering around on the road every day. Simply imagine if the Goodwood Festival of Speed tried to pull a stunt like that.

Organisers, get with it. Stop charging exorbitant entry fee’s for people who just want to tootle around in their cars, they’re not in a racing category. Get out there, harass the owners and manufacturers and get some of the truly amazing machinery into the event. Rent out a racetrack for the five days and hold static displays there. For God’s sake just do something to make it a great day out for the fans because if we wouldn’t sit by the side of the freeway watching these mundane cars driving past, why would we bother coming to your event?