Mazda Women MS Project Begins Full-Scale Training
This venue was originally a racing circuit that was acquired by Mazda and then renovated to become a comprehensive proving ground. In addition to the original circuit course, the circular connection lane is now utilized as a winding road, and a free flat space of a straight 100m by 400m has been established to the rear of the grand stand. Furthermore, a permanent skid pad has been established for implementing controlled spins on wet road surfaces. With the paddock, pit garage, and service pit all remaining in their original condition, it is a location at which it still seems that races will be held any day.
Blessed with fine spring weather, the 26 female participants arrived by bus at the Mine Proving Ground on the 18th. Taking this day as an opportunity, managing executive officer; In charge of Global Marketing, Customer Service and Sales Innovation, ,Masahiro Moro, executive officer General Manager of Global Sales & Marketing Div., Yasuhiro Aoyama, executive officer, Powertrain Technology Development Group, Ichiro Hirose, General Manager of Corporate Communication Div., Hidetoshi Kudo, General Manager Customer Service Div. , Ryuichi Umeshita, Program Manager for the MX-5 (Roadster), Nobuhiro Yamamoto, amongst many others, stood in welcome and offered words of encouragement to all the girls. These Mazda big wigs, who have participated in endurance races at the Mazda Fan Festival, greeted the women with comments such as, “we’re going to do our best not to fall behind you guys [in our driver training]. Let’s all enjoy the joy of motorsports together!”
After completing Keiko Ihara’s classroom course, it was finally time for some real life training. Initially, braking and slalom practice was carried out repeatedly with Mazda Driving School instructors accompanying each woman in their training car and assessing their skills on the winding road. Not only in their ability to drive manual transmissions, but, as one might expect, there was a lot of variation in each individual’s ability to handle high speed panic braking and slalom driving. In accordance with the instructors’, as well as Ms Ihara’s observations, the participants were then divided into three groups for more customized lessons. Headed by A group, for those most accustomed to and able to maneuver their cars, B and C group carried out repeated practice to resolve each individual’s challenges. For the especially important aspect of braking, each group altered their respective mode of lesson and carried out practice to increase their level of control. In the morning, A group went to the skid pad to repeatedly practice braking on slippery road surfaces, controlled spins and even try drifting. Unfortunately, rain appeared on the second day, however this allowed for wet road surface training to proceed very smoothly. In the afternoon they went out onto the circuit to practice aspects such as accelerator work for taking the correct line, braking, and exiting out of specific corners. It really was a weekend jam packed with various different content. As for B and C groups, thanks to their repeated efforts, one of the Mazda instructors who gave one-on-one guidance, praised the girls saying, “B and C groups, despite not even having ABS braking experience on the first day, have managed to master panic braking and hazard avoidance. It is amazing how quickly they have progressed.”
Summing up the two days, Ms Ihara commented, “Both B and C group have shown remarkable improvement and A group are now capable of implementing “human ABS” braking and drifts. I’m very impressed by everyone’s efforts and capacity to adapt. I’m really looking forward to the next lessons.” Making a promise not to neglect the training that they can do by themselves in their everyday driving, all the women boarded the bus with bright smiles and left the proving ground. The next training weekend is scheduled to be held on May 9th to 10th following Golden Week.
Photo by MZRacing