“Mazda WIM” Training Camp STEP 1 Concludes, Moves into STEP 2
In the third round of training, members were selected for what will become STEP 2, participation in the “Mazda Fan Endurance” (“Maz-Tai”) and the “Super Taikyu” (“S-Tai”). In addition, in the final training camp, members were chosen to participate in the “26th Media 4-Hour Endurance Race” (“Media 4-Tai) to be held in September. As it was being held on the same weekend, the two members selected to compete in the S-Tai, Yuri Hayashi and Hiroko Komatsu, would be required to skip the final training camp and head to Fuji. On July 4th the remaining participants were divided into two teams at the Mine Proving Ground: the 12 members who would be competing in the Maz-Tai went into A-Team and the rest into B-Team.
A-Team practiced fuel-conserving driving and overtaking practice out on the circuit course, while in the pits, driver changes and various training aimed at endurance races were carried out. B-Team went out onto the U-shaped circuit set up with pylons on top of the free flat course and practiced gear changes into 2nd and 3rd from full acceleration, along with spin and driver change exercises. After the first day was completed without a hitch, they all returned to the hotel where a small dinner party was held. It turned out that this was Ms Ihara’s birthday and during the party she said, “The fact that everyone got through today without accident is the best present I could have received.” As a gift she was presented with a handmade message bottle containing a letter from each and every member of the group.
The following day was the final day of training. For the last day every member went out onto the circuit course to train in emergency stops, fuel-conserving driving, proper techniques for overtaking and being passed, along with driver change practice. Likely due to the fact that this training was carried out with a combination of mixed level drivers, which the participants were unaccustomed to, along with the fact that selection for the “Media 4-Tai” was riding on this final day, one driver went off course and the session was ended early. Considering the fact that this occurred after numerous lectures on safety points and other training, Ms Ihara told the members, “I’m not simply looking to bring up the fastest drivers, but the strongest drivers. Don’t get caught up in worrying about the final result. What is important is always using your head and understanding what is the proper actions to take.” In other words she reaffirmed what she had been stating right from the first day, “drive with your head,” no matter what the situation and always maintain control over your emotions. With the assistance of all those at the Mazda Mine Proving Ground, they resumed their runs on the course with renewed vigor. After driving for as much as time permitted, the final training came to a close.
In the closing ceremony Ms Ihara gave her evaluation and awarded a certificate to each individual member. After this, every one gave their reflections looking back on the entire experience. The scene was full of tears with members reliving the anxiety they felt and difficulty of the training, the impatience at being unable to drive as expected, rediscovering the “joy of driving,” and the appreciation they felt for the family and friends that supported them. Every member finished with statements such as “I’m so glad I was able to participate” and “It was so much fun!” Then finally, it came time for Miss Ihara to announce what she had deliberating right until the last minute, the members who had been selected for the “Media 4-Tai.”
With the S-Tai team safely completing their debut race and achieving a 5th place finish, STEP 1 of the Mazda WIM project had completed every phase without a hitch. It is now time for the program to progress into real-life racing, STEP 2.
The participants for STEP 2 are listed below.
Mazda WIM Selected Team: Yumiko Sekizaki, Enami Kitahara, Yukari Otakara, Marie Iwaoka
Mazda WIM Model Team: Megumi Ohashi, Saori Murasato, Eri Okamura, Tomoyo Uryu
Mazda WIM Housewife Team: Yumi Houshi, Akiyo Sato, Naoko Inose, Megumi Tsujita
The selected team will be aiming for victory behind the wheel of a “Roadster Party Race II” spec NR-A Roadster. The Housewife Team and Model Team will be competing in roadster training vehicles. Although they are unregistered training cars, in order to enable the women to broaden the number of opportunities for special participation in races, organizers have agreed to permit the members to race outside of the regular awards system.
-Media 4-Tai members
Yuri Hayashi, Hiroko Komatsu, Yumiko Sekizaki, Enami Kitahara, Saori Murasato
Keep an eye out for the girls competing at the “Mazda Fan Endurance” to be held on July 19th (Sun) at Autopolis in Oita Prefecture and the “26th Media Roadster 4 Hour Endurance Race” at Tsukuba Circuit on September 5th (Sat).
▼Mazda Women in Motorsport Training Camp 3
Photo by MZRacing