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Baptism of fire for MX-5 Turbo

Tassie tearaway: Mazda will use the Targa Tasmania tarmac rally to showcase its MX-5 roadster.

Mazda will let its MX-5 Turbo loose on the roads of Tasmania for the 2001 Targa rally

16 Mar 2001

MAZDA will use next month's Targa Tasmania as a real-world shakedown for its upcoming MX-5 Turbo sports car.

The motorsport event will play a key part in the development program of the turbocharged convertible.

"Everything is progressing quite well," Mazda Australia public relations manager Mike Quist said. "The car will run in final pre-production form, with our aim to bring it home in one piece." Former Australian rally champion Murray Coote and co-driver Anthony McLoughlin will campaign the first vehicle to be completed by Mazda Motorsport Manager Allan Horsley.

"Our aim will be to drive as quickly as we can and still get the car to the finish," Coote said. "I am expecting to get plenty of information for Mazda to take back home after the event." Coote believes Targa will show just how quick a package the MX-5 Turbo will be, even in its first competitive outing.

Motor magazine's news editor, Michael Taylor, will drive a second naturally aspirated MX-5.

"The fancied outright contenders will have a lot more power, but the MX-5 is not very heavy and we're expecting it to be relatively easy on its brakes and tyres, and the car's surprisingly quick in the wet or downhill," Taylor said.

"There aren't too many cars with better chassis balance so it should be pretty good there." Both cars will be entered in the event with sponsorship from Motor. Targa Tasmania appealed to Motor for a number of reasons, according to editor Ged Bulmer.

"Michael and I spoke about it and we reckoned it was the perfect place to showcase the passion our people had for cars and for driving them the way they were built to be driven," he said.

"It gets us out among similar-minded people and the roads of Tasmania are perfect for a car like the MX-5." Mazda can expect to have cashed-up buyers banging on the door of their local dealers come the Monday morning after the event, should the MX-5 Turbo prove to be a competitive and reliable package.

If the car can finish, and finish well, Mazda will have the sort of pre-release publicity manufacturers only dream about.

The MX-5 Turbo is due for release later this year. It will sell through the Mazda dealer network as an ongoing model in the MX-5 range.

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