Mazda has announced that it will be entering the 2012 British GT Championship - with the fastest and most powerful MX-5 the company has ever produced.
The new car will be pitted against cars like Lotus's Evora and Aston Martin's Vantage in the series' GT4 class. Quite some competition, then - but Mazda believes the MX-5 GT4's smaller engine and relative lightness will mean it's kinder to its tyres, not to mention its fuel; key strengths in the field of endurance racing.
It may have a point. The little MX-5 tips the scales at 1,000kg, including its mandated 150kg of ballast - just shy of 200kg less than the Evora, and 350kg less than the Aston. What's more, a near-320hp version of the road car's two-litre engine and a six-speed Hewland sequential gearbox, mean that the MX-5 GT4 will hit 60mph in around the three-second mark.
While this will be Mazda's first year in the British GT Championship, the firm says it has drawn on the MX-5 GT that it entered in last year's Britcar Production Championship to develop the new car. "Last year was a valuable development year when we established the strengths of the car and then developed the power and handling to best exploit those strengths," explained Mazda UK's managing director, Jeremy Thomson. Whether the team has done enough to overhaul the big-name competition remains to be seen - we'll find out when the MX-5 makes its debut at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend.
Alex Robbins - 26 Mar 2012