FOLLOWING A 10th place finish at the 2009 event, Mazda Australia's turbo-charged RX-8 SP is set to return to Targa Tasmania in 2010.
The event, which will run from April 28 to May 3, will see 2008 Targa Champion Steve Glenney return to pilot the turbo RX-8 SP once again.
?We had a few problems to sort through during this year?s rally which probably held us back from a top three finish,? Mr Glenney said. ?But I am confident that thanks to time and lessons learned, the Mazda team has made the car stronger and faster for 2010."
Regarded by many as the world's toughest tarmac rally, Targa Tasmania is a 2000km event made up of around 40 special closed road stages. The event regularly attracts more than 250 entries.
Allan Horsley, boss of Mazda Australia's Motorsports division and the driving force behind the RX-8 SP, said the team's car is equipped to outperform the event's more exotic entrants.
?I?ll be honest and say we had teething problems this year ? but that was always going to be the case given that so little racing development had gone into it. But to finish 10th outright on debut is just incredible," Mr Horsley said.
?Six months on and what we have now is a handling package to outperform the Porsches and Lamborghinis that dominate the pointy end of the Targa field. Now all we need to do is try and extract a little more power.?
Glenney said the turbo RX-8's 50/50 weight distribution is the best he's driven, describing it as comfortable on the tighter sections and stable on the more open, flowing corners.
?Next year?s Targa will be another huge challenge up against the very powerful and expensive Porsches, Lamborghinis and Nissan GTRs," Mr Glenney said.
"But with some more testing under our belts I'm confident the RX-8 SP can sneak under the radar and steal a few stage wins and hopefully unsettle the heavyweight favourites."
Mazda RX-8 SP
Driver: Steve Glenney, SA, Co-Driver: Bernie Webb, ACT
Engine: Rotary Turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, RWD
Fuel tank: 60 litres
Kerb weight: 1280 kg
Wheels: 18-inch Advan performance