Mazda RX-8 Sets 40 International Records In 24 Hour Race

Mazda RX-8

Mazda has set a total of 40 international records with two Mazda RX-8s. Drivers and technicians celebrated their success at the close of the 24-hour record attempt on the 12.3km oval at the automotive proving grounds in Papenburg, Germany earlier this month.

The day before, two 231ps Mazda RX-8s had taken the starting line, one in the FIA Category A (Special Vehicles) and a second in the FIA Category B (Mass Production Vehicles). The two sports cars drove more than 5,000km during the 24-hour attempt with average speeds of 212.835 and 215.934 km/h.

These results clearly demonstrate that Mazda RX-8’s unique RENESIS rotary engine not only provides exhilarating performance, but is durable and reliable even under the most extreme driving conditions.

Record-setting performances of this kind are nothing new to Mazda, which boasts a long tradition of 24-hour endurance races. In this latest 24-hour attempt, both Mazda RX-8s shattered a Mazda record set in 1991 by drivers Bertrand Gachot, Johnny Herbert and Volker Weidler at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world.

That year, the team drove the Mazda 787B race car with a 515 kW/700 PS rotary engine exactly 4.923.2 km during the 24 hours of the race, with an average speed of 205.133 km/h. In Papenburg, both Mazda RX-8s were clearly faster.

12:20pm Saturday 2 October: Mazda Motor Europe engineer Shoji Tokuda waved the green flag and started the 24-hour drive, sending the first Mazda RX-8 on its way into the record books. The driver accelerated, shifted through the gears and then had only one goal—holding the ideal line at full throttle.

Prior to the record attempt, the German Motor Sports Organisation DMSB e.V. had selected three production Mazda RX-8s in Antwerp, Belgium and sealed their engines and transmissions on-site.

All remaining stages of the record attempt were accompanied by commissioners of the DMSB e.V. to ensure all mandatory regulations of the FIA were adhered to. The second vehicle used in the record attempt had proven its reliability in last season’s Formula Woman all-woman race series in the UK.

The only difference between the two Mazda RX-8s, and all other Mazda RX-8 production models was added safety equipment – both had special body-contour seats, five-point seat belts and a roll cage. The Category A Mazda RX-8 was outfitted with an additional fuel tank and 19-inch wheels.

The cars were piloted by 15 automotive journalists from 11 countries, who completed the tough, 24-hour test on the 12.3 km high-speed oval, pausing only for necessary pit stops and to change drivers. Other than that, it was full throttle around the track. The record drive attempt was supported by the tyre manufacturer Kumho and Aral, which provided high-octane Aral Ultimate petrol.

The two Mazda RX-8s drove their rounds at consistently high speeds and without incident. Nonetheless, not everything went according to plan. An hour after midnight it began to rain heavily, but neither the drivers nor the tyre supplier Kumho panicked. The tyre pressure was lowered, which resulted in an improvement of their hydroplaning resistance capacity. Despite the rain, the average speed of both cars remained high.

12:20pm Sunday 3 October: Shoji Tokuda dropped the chequered flag and waved his two Mazda RX-8s into the pit. Both cars set a total of 40 international FIA records. Mazda RX-8’s RENESIS engine, the world’s only production rotary engine, had passed its endurance test with flying colours. Mission accomplished.

Published : 19/10/04 Author : Melanie Carter

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