Diesel power is coming to Formula One, with Mazda Australia confirming its all-new Mazda6 oil-burner will hit the Albert Park circuit for the Celebrity Challenge during the 2013 Australian Grand Prix in March.
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After embracing hybrid power in 2011 with the Lexus CT200h, next year’s race will mark the first time diesel technology has been used in the Celebrity Challenge, with 20 cars set to lap the Melbourne street track between March 14-17.

Mazda Australia says the Australian Grand Prix Celebrity Challenge will be a core part of the launch activities for the all-new Mazda6 mid-size car, which will go on sale across the country in sedan and wagon form with the option of both petrol and diesel engines during the first quarter of 2013.

The 2013 Mazda6 diesel headed for Albert Park and national showrooms features a twin-turbocharged 2.2-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 129kW of power (at 4500rpm) and 420Nm of torque (at 2000rpm).

The engine can be teamed with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, with both sending power to the front wheels.

The Mazda6 diesel manual sedan accelerates from 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds (8.4sec for the auto) and has a top speed of 223km/h (216km/h auto).

And although the celebrities aren’t likely to be too interested, the diesel’s combined cycle fuel consumption ranges between 4.5-4.9 litres per 100km across both transmissions and body styles.

Mazda Australia is spruiking the Celebrity Challenge as a post-Olympics, pre-Ashes showdown, with Australia’s greatest ever Paralympian, swimmer Matthew Cowdrey, and London Olympics track cycling gold medallist Anna Meares (both pictured above) taking on Britain’s six-time Olympic cycling champion, Sir Chris Hoy.

The remaining 17 competing celebrities will be revealed closer to the start of next year’s Australian F1 Grand Prix.