• 2015/05/11

Mazda Women’s 2nd Driver Training Camp Completed

Over May 9th to 10th, the Mazda Women in Motorsports Project implemented its second driver training camp at the Mazda Mine Proving Ground in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The 26 participants undertook a special training schedule over the two days.

This time around both days were blessed with fine weather and the female participants sweated through the grueling training regiment on the Mine Proving Ground’s open spaces, such as the circuit course, skid pad, and son on. With the air temperature exceeding 20°C, one can imagine the participants were working up a serious sweat in the training cars, which are not equipped with air conditioning. As with the previous training camp, with project leader, Keiko Ihara at the head, 3 Mazda Driving School instructors, supported by Mine Proving Ground management staff, divided the participants into 3 teams (A, B and C) according to their ability and then began their instruction.

To begin with, they reviewed the fundamentals they learned in the previous camp with a U-shaped pylon course set up for repeated practice of acceleration/deceleration, gear-shifting, and cornering. Deviating from the previous camp, this time the participants’ times were recorded and you could see the eyes of the A-team members, who have previous race experience, light up as they attempted to re-write their best results. The women divided into B and C teams practiced acceleration/deceleration and finding the race line on the circuit course. Ms Ihara and the Mazda instructors took up positions at specific corners and gave each individual advice on running the correct line, their driving rhythm, and so on. After repeating this numerous times, the participants, who previously seemed to struggle with the most basic techniques, showed almost unbelievable progress. One of the participants stated, “Last time I was given a lot of things to work on and, using them as a basis, over the last few weeks I have practiced as much as possible on my own. As a result I was able to drive pretty smoothly this time around.”

At the meetings held in between training sessions, in response to Ms Ihara’s probe, “What is essential when driving on the circuit?” the participants have become able to briskly respond, “Out-in-out,” “Focus far ahead,” “Take in the whole course width,” “Focus intently on exiting acceleration,” etc. On the afternoon of the second day, those who have no motorsports experience learned about the “heel-and-toe” technique, that one rarely uses in everyday life, and began to practice it repeatedly.

After the second training camp had been completed, Ms Ihara stated, “Everyone’s confidence is gradually beginning to increase. The members of B-team have gotten accustomed to race speed and their driving has gotten a lot smoother. However, the more one becomes used to the pace, the more rough one’s driving can become, so it is essential that you all focus intently on proper steering and acceleration technique. Next time I’m hoping everyone will learn how to fully manipulate the vehicle while knowing the limitations of both the tires and the machine. The items that I would like you to practice are all things that you can do in your everyday life, so I hope that you continue to drive while focusing both on sports driving technique and also safety.” Furthermore the Mazda instructors gave their impressions and advice, stating, “I would like the B and C team members to learn from the fighting spirit of A-team. Driving concentration requires mental strength and I think the biggest difference right now is eagerness.” “Heel-and-toe may be difficult but it is essential to circuit driving, so please practice as much as possible. I’m sure that next time you will be able to enjoy the circuit even more.” “It was really refreshing for us to watch all of you driving with everything you’ve got.”

Photo by MZRacing


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