Mazda’s all-new 2015 ‘ND’ MX-5 roadster has surfaced in racing trim this week, revealed as part of a new Global Cup series.
All competitors will race identically prepared race-ready versions of the new MX-5, each powered by the company’s 2.0 litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine.
Announced at the SEMA auto show in Las Vegas, the new one-make series will be campaigned in North America, Europe and Asia - although specific countries and courses are still to be revealed.
Likewise, Mazda has yet to reveal full mechanical details for the new racers, although it is clear from these shots that a roll cage, large racing wheels and an aero upgrade will be among the highlights.
The convertible's foldable roof and door trims have also been deleted, and a special data-loaded racing steering wheel is also featured.
The series will be wrapped up at the famous Laguna Seca course in California, with the winning driver invited to undertake a one-day test with the TUDOR United States SportsCar Championship SKYACTIV prototype racecar.
“We’re excited to take the elements of success of the existing Mazda MX-5 Cup series, and introduce them to a new global audience,” Mazda’s Masahiro Moro said.
“It has long been our goal to see Mazda fans around the world competing in identical MX-5s, and the launch of the 2016 MX-5 Miata is the perfect time to make this goal a reality.”
The series will operate alongside an existing factory-supported MX-5 Cup that operates in the US, although it is unclear if drivers will be sourced from that series or by other means.
"Because the MX-5 is inherently such a good car to drive, it is an ideal platform to learn basic and advanced race-craft, and this has made the professional MX-5 Cup series very successful to date,” Mazda North America boss John Doonan said.
The new MX-5, revealed in September, will make its Australian debut late in 2015.
As for the Global Cup, Mazda Australia's Steven Maciver told TMR today that the company's local arm is considering the potential for a round 'down under'.
"The MX-5 is an icon for Mazda and so we're looking at various innovative ways we can promote the car here, and the Global Cup is certainly one of those," Mr Maciver said.
"We haven't made a decision yet, and obviously with a series like this being up and running from scratch, it's a fair amount of work. What would the costs and benefits be, that sort of thing. But we're doing the homework on it."
"Of course, with the event not starting until 2016, we do have a bit of time up our sleeves and we probably won't make a final decision until well into next year".
Mazda has backed out of the F1 Celebrity Challenge in Australia - "we had two good years but decided a third wouldn't work for us" - but Mr Maciver acknowledged today that a round of the MX-5 Global Cup at the Australian F1 Grand Prix could be considered.