As the event moves to encourage more eco-friendly themes, alternate fuels such as E85 have allowed the team at Mazda Motorsport to power its rotary engine rally car on the low-emitting blend.
Ethanol, which in this instance is derived from sugar cane crops, produces less than half the amount of CO2 emissions of petrol. It also enhances performance via its natural cooling properties.
Targa Tasmania will become the second major motorsport event in Australia to use E85, the fuel already successfully used in V8 Supercars. Event orgnaisers plan to deliver zero net emissions by next year, in time for the event's 20th anniversary.
"Covering long distances at competition speed can really put a lot of pressure on an engine, particularly one that is turbocharged," explains Mazda Motorsport chief Allan Horsley."In short, engine cooling in an endurance rally like Targa can make or break your campaign - so it's absolutely vital to get it right,"It was a long and fiddly process making the turbocharged rotary compatible with E85 but because all petrol-powered Mazda passenger vehicles can run on E10 blend fuel, it made the process a lot easier."
The Mazda RX-8 SP (pictured), which made its debut at last year's event, finished the rally in 10th outright position. But Mr Horsley said the campaign was not without its fair share of temperature issues.
"After last year's event we knew we had some work to do on ensuring a consistent engine temperature for its next outing," explained Mr Horsley."I'm confident that our move to E85 is a step in the right direction towards achieving this for Targa 2010."
Targa Tasmania Event Director, Mark Perry, say he believes the move to E85 blend fuel move is an important one for both Mazda, and the event in general.
"This is a great opportunity to showcase ethanol as a quality renewable fuel being used in high-performance road cars," said Mr Perry."The use of E85 will see high-performance sports cars cut their CO2 emissions in half,"It's a great innovation and we are thrilled to see Mazda embrace this technology, which is helping us ensure that Targa remains relevant and doesn't become a dinosaur of the past."
This year's event will also utilise two new Mazda6 Diesels for official course cars while Sydney-based privateer, Peter Brown will also enter a Mazda3 Diesel in Targa's Showroom competition.
The E85-powered Mazda RX-8 SP will be driven by South Australia's Steve Glenney, while Victorian Brendan Reeves will round out the Mazda entries in his 2010 Mazda3 MPS rally car.
Targa Tasmania will be held from April 27 to May 3. More information on Mazda's participation in this year's event can be found at www.mazdamotorsport.com.au