A grandiose commemorative 25th Media Four Hours Endurance Race
This event was first envisioned in 1989, when the first generation Roadster was released, and since then it has been held every year without fail. The world has changed a great deal within this timeframe. The Roadster also has continued to mature, going from its first generation NA model, to the NB and then NC. This year, a quarter of a century later, Mazda announced the new model Roadster that is to be released next year. The first unveiling was aimed at the fans and was held at the venue of this renowned Media Four Hours Endurance Race. On this day a makeshift display booth was set up at the paddock of Tsukuba’s Circuit and within this one soul red prototype was exhibited. Due to being blessed with fine weather, the temperature at the circuit reached close to 30°C but with the display booth completely air-conditioned, the fans were able to completely appreciate the new ND Roadster in total comfort. After this, when the drivers of the day’s main event, the 4 hour endurance race, were being introduced on stage, the booth was closed off and some form of secretive work began.
There was no specific announcement but the surrounding spectators sensed something was in the air and a crowd of people created a passage through the paddock. With the fans brimming with anticipation the new Roadster was finally revealed. Behind the driver’s seat was Nobuhiro Yamamoto, program manager of the Roadster, and pushing the car from behind was managing executive officer (Development Division), Kiyoshi Fujiwara, managing executive officer (Marketing and Sales), Masahiro Moro and executive officer (Design Division General Manager) Ikuo Maeda all of whom would be driving in the 4 hour endurance race. Together they pushed the car through the corridor created by the throng of fans. When the column reached the end of the pits, Yamamoto ignited the engine and received the collective “wow!” from the audience. Yamamoto said, “This kind of stage is like a dream. This car is like my baby, no, it’s more like my entire life.” The surprise parade run finished after the new Roadster lead the 23 machines that would be competing in the 4-hour race around one lap of the course.
The 4 Hours Endurance Race is a time race competed over 4 hours with driver squads of at least 4 people. The amount of fuel permitted for use and length of a driver’s stint is restricted which means that you can’t win this race by being fast alone. After overcoming various incidents, such as a safety car dispatch in the early stages due to a vehicle stopping on the track, the J-WAVE team took their very first victory. The TIPO team which after last year was on a 2 successive winning streak, unexpectedly retired due to running out of fuel. All members of the Mazda team which, in addition to Fujiwara, Moro, Maeda and Yamamoto, included Akihiro Nakamoto from the Mazda Driving School, cleared their difficult fuel conserving runs and completed the race in 9th without the assistance of a pro driver. To think that the executive officers in charge of steering the company took time out of their busy schedules to undergo a crash course in race driving and earnestly participate in this race is phenomenal.
This event was a spectacular affair with not only the aforementioned endurance race, but also the Roadster Party Race II, the Mazda Fan Circuit Trial, a parade run of around 100 Roadsters from every generation, and so on. Next year’s 4 Hour Endurance will be competed using the new model Roadster. Looking forward to that!
Photo by Mazda & MZRacing