If you’re one of the many RX-8 fans dreaming of a factory-supported turbo version sitting in your driveway, the answer is at hand: become a Targa Tasmania driver.
Along with two new Mazda3 MPS hot hatches, Mazda Australia is entering a turbo-charged RX-8 GT in the Targa Tasmania, and giving it the title RX-8 SP.
Targa Tasmania 2008 champ Steve Glenney will pilot the RX-8 in its motorsport debut, along with his co-driver of four years, Bernie Webb.
“I’m excited to be chosen by Mazda Motorsport to play a role in the development of the Mazda RX-8, and to be driving it in its Australian rally debut,” Said Glenney.
“The RX-8's a great-looking car, the rotary engine is synonymous with Mazda’s Motorsport history in Australia, and I’m confident of getting a top result for Mazda.”
Mazda Motorsport manager Allan Horsley says Mazda’s 2009 entry will be the company’s biggest Targa Tasmania effort in over a decade.
"Targa Tasmania is not a race to be taken lightly. It's a flat-out sprint over 2,000km in five tough days, and that's a real test of man and machine.
The RX-8 SP has plenty of potential, but it is an unknown package in a rally environment. So it’s difficult to know how it will perform at its first competitive outing."
It’s hoped the Mazda RX-8 SP will achieve victory like it’s RX-7 SP forebear in the early 90s, winning four back-to-back 12-hour Endurance races between 1992 to 1995. The RX-7 SP’s last competitive outing under the Mazda banner was in 2002 at Targa Tasmania, steered by Rick Bates.
This year, Australian rally legend Rick Bates is back in a current-gen Mazda3 MPS, his fourth Targa with Mazda.
The second 3 MPS will be driven by brother and sister Brendan Reeves and Rhianon Smyth.
In 2008, Reeves and Smyth took out the Tasmania Tarmac Challenge. This will be Brendan’s first Targa Tasmania.
The Mazda RX-8 will be competing in Modern Competition, while the two Mazda3 MPS hatches will compete in the Showroom 2WD Competition.
Targa Tasmania 2009 runs from Tuesday April 28 to Sunday May 3.