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by David Zalstein

Mazda has confirmed it will again sponsor the Australian Formula One Grand Prix Celebrity Challenge in 2014.

The all-new third-generation Mazda 3 will be the weapon of choice for next year’s support race, with 20 cars set to tackle Melbourne’s 5.3km Albert Park street circuit steered by celebrities from various backgrounds and disciplines.

Teaming a 138kW/250Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a six-speed automatic transmission, the Mazda 3 will hit the track in both hatch and sedan variants.

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Following in the footsteps of the 2013 event, which saw 21 Mazda 6 diesels do battle, the 2014 Mazda 3 Celebrity Challenge will be part of the Japanese manufacturer’s local launch activities following the small car’s expected on-sale in January.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott said he was thrilled to welcome Mazda back for 2014.

“The race adds so much excitement and glamour to an already action packed weekend of racing,” said Westacott.

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Melbourne media personality Lauren Phillips (pictured top) is the first official starter named, with others to be announced in the build-up to next year’s recently confirmed F1 season opener in March (13-16).

Split into three five-lap races over the race weekend, this year’s race resulted in several cars sustaining heavy on-track damage and was won by former Australian test cricketer Brad Hodge.




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