The challenge has become a popular curtain-raiser for the Albert Park event (thanks in part to the carnage). Each of the competing 3s will sport Mazda's 2.5 litre SkyActiv-G petrol engine, putting a respectable 138kW and 250Nm under the toe of each celeb.
It will be mated, thankfully, to a six-speed automatic transmission (at least we won't have to put up with the sounds of gears being ground off).
Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott said he welcomed Mazda’s return to the Celebrity Challenge in 2014.
“We’re delighted to welcome Mazda back on board for the 2014 Mazda3 Celebrity Challenge,” Mr Westacott said.
“The race adds so much excitement and glamour to an already action packed weekend of racing.”
Mazda ambassador and Melbourne media personality, Lauren Phillips, was revealed as the Celebrity Challenge’s first official starter.
“I participated in the Celebrity Challenge at the 2011 F1 Australian Grand Prix and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” Ms Phillips said.
“I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the all-new Mazda3 and I just know that the new celebrity drivers are in for a treat.”
The celebrity line-up and the final Mazda3 race-car design will be revealed by Mazda later this month.
The 2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix, held on the streets of Albert Park from March 13-16, will serve as part of Mazda’s launch activities for the Mazda3.
The all-new hatch is set to go on sale in Australia early next year.
The Mazda3, which regularly tops Australian car sales, continues to ride high in the Australian market despite now being one of the oldest models in the small car segment.
The 3 is an important car for Mazda here: its 3,052 sales in September almost doubled that of its next best model, the CX-5.