After its initial success in the Targa Tasmania earlier this year, Mazda will use its performance in the upcoming Tasmanian Tarmac Challenge to evaluate whether it will enter the full 2009 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) season.
Brother and sister rally combo Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth will drive a near-standard 190kW turbocharged Mazda3 MPS in the event’s Showroom category.
At just 20 years old, Brendan Reeves will become the youngest driver in Mazda Motorsport history, having won the Victorian Autocross Championship at the age of 16 and participating in an exclusive three-year Rally Development Program by the Australian Institute of Sport.
“Driving for a factory team is exactly what you set out to achieve in a motorsport career, so I feel very privileged to be given this opportunity,” said Brendan “As a road car the Mazda3 MPS is a fantastic car to drive. It’s sporty, nimble and fun to drive. I can’t wait to get into its rally sibling on Wednesday for some pre-event testing.”
If successful, 2009 will mark the first time Mazda has competed in a full ARC season since it won the Championship in 1989 with the Mazda 323 4WD Turbo driven by Murray Coote.
However Mazda has no plans to establish a full rally sport division and instead intends to compete with a near showroom spec iteration of its front-wheel drive Mazda3 MPS.
“Over the past 12 months we’ve been in heavy discussion with CAMS over the introduction of the new ARC regulations, and the introduction of a separate championship for production based two-wheel-drive cars,”
Mazda is seeking to convince CAMS officials to consider a two-wheel-drive class which would see the MPS on equal footing with highly-modified, four-wheel-drive cars.