With a strong desire to do something special for Mazda fans, and show some of our famous Challenging Spirit in the year of the Mazda MX-5’s 25th birthday, Mazda decided to compete in this year’s Nurburgring 24-hour race held on the 21st and 22nd of June. The MX-5 took on the challenge of the grueling “Green Hell” course with the Jinba-Ittai driving dynamics of a lightweight sports car polished over many years of development.
To hone both the car and the drivers, Mazda entered several races back in April. The MX-5 won its class in the qualifying race on the 6th, and took 3rd place in the VLN3 on the 26th. It also performed well in the qualifier for the 24-hour race, overcoming more powerful rivals with its outstanding cornering speed to take fourth place among 13 contenders. With a good starting position, expectations for the Mazda MX-5 were high.
In the event, however, the car and team met with one set-back after another. This year’s Nurburgring 24-hour race began at 4:00 p.m. on June 21 with 165 cars lined up on the starting grid. The large number of vehicles jostling for position on the narrow course is one of the elements that make this race notoriously difficult. The MX-5 suffered some serious bumps and bruises from vehicles in higher classes, sending the car limping into the pits for repairs. At one point the team spent over two hours repairing damage done to the suspension.
It was only thanks to the swift and meticulous work of the mechanics, as committed to finishing the race as the drivers themselves, that the car was able to get back out on the track again at all. By the time it did, night had come to Nurburgring. Then, just as the race was approaching the 11th hour mark, the Mazda MX-5 clipped a guard rail in the dark and went spinning into the wall. It was towed back to the garage, but the damage sustained to the front was too severe and the team reluctantly made the decision to retire.
The Mazda MX-5’s first challenge to Nurburgring was a baptism of fire and the final curtain closed before the halfway mark. But at Mazda we find the greatest challenges to be the most rewarding, and we will use the lessons learn at Nurburgring to take on even tougher challenges in the future.
Mazda Motor Sports Team JOTA
JOTA is a racing team based in the UK, which has participated in FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series and has won first place in European Le Mans Series. JOTA has taken part in the UK Endurance Championship using MX-5 together with Mazda UK since 2011, and it makes up a team as a partner with sufficient knowledge of the race using MX-5.
NC soft top based, 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine
1983-1991: F1 driver
1990-1991: Mazda works for 24 Hours of Le Mans.
1997 : Won 24 Hours of Le Mans
Nurburgring circuit expert racer/racing instructor
Racer and motor journalist. Expert in endurance race.
Winner of Japan’s Roadster Party RaceⅡ