Fans who love Mazda and motorsports gather in Okayama!
From 2012 to 2019, the MAZDA FAN FESTA has been held here in Okayama as one of the largest fan appreciation events in Japan, and with 2020 marking the 100th anniversary of Mazda’s founding and 2021 the 30th anniversary of its Le Mans victory, fans had high expectations. In 2020, Mazda will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and in 2021, the 30th anniversary of its Le Mans victory. However, as an alternative event, the “MAZDA FAN CIRCUIT MEETING 2021 in OKAYAMA” was held in succession to last year’s event, focusing on a participatory motor sports competition. First up was the final round of the Roadster Party Race III West Japan Series, now in its sixth year. The official qualifying round began at 8:00 a.m. on the 20th, followed by the 8-lap race at 10:46 a.m. In the ND Series class, Eiichi Honda turned the tables from second place in the qualifying round to take the win. For four consecutive years since 2016 Honda, who was crowned champion four years in a row from 2016, came back this season with a perfect four-race winning streak to reclaim the championship after two years. In the ND Clubman class, which emphasizes good manners and welcomes beginners, ATSUSHI AKITA took his first win in his second year of competition. The next event was the JAF-sanctioned Mazda Fun Circuit Trial.
(MFCT). The MFCT is a time trial competition that is open to all Mazda vehicles. 35 classes are set up so that participants can enjoy battles according to the type of vehicle and the level of tuning. In this year’s event, 56 cars, divided into three groups, will compete in two 20-minute sessions, with the best time of the two sessions determining the ranking. The overall top time of 1:42.074 was set by Masaho Morita in his FD3S RX-7, and the second fastest time of 1:46.874 was set by Kenichiro Motoyama, who has won the national championship three years in a row with his RX-8. The final round in Tochigi on December 5th will be the final round of the series.
The first race of the Chugoku round of the Mazda Fan Endurance (Matsutai), a participatory motor sport event where up to four drivers per team complete 2 hours and 30 minutes without refueling, was held on Saturday in the NORMAL class. The overall winner was the PLUM Suwa Hime GI Roadster (ND5RC), which was the only car to complete 72 laps. The team, consisting of Junji Ishikawa, Shinichi Hatta, and Yoshihiro Kato, now has 480 points and is almost certain to win the national championship for the third time in a row. In addition to the roadsters, the Surprise QUAC Atenza AT (GJ2FW), which won the overall championship at the recent Shizuoka round, set a new course record of 69 laps to take the top checkered flag. The day started early at 8:00 a.m. on November 21 with a public video recording of Hiroaki Tagawa, a blind guitarist famous for his performance at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics. The thrilling scene of a legendary car with a rotary engine driving by Mr. Tagawa playing in the middle of the straight is sure to add a lot of charm to the film. These legendary cars, which were once race-spec cars brought back to life in the modern era, will be followed by a 15-minute demo run at 9:10 and 12:35. The nostalgic rotary sound echoed through the circuit.
Also on display in pit 17 for two days were a Mazda 737C and an FD3S RX-7 currently competing in the All Japan Gymkhana Championship. 737C is the very car that finished 6th in its class in the 1985 Le Mans 24 hour race. The drivers at the time were Yoshimi Katayama, Yojiro Terada, and Koji Sono. The RX-7 is owned by Masahiro Fujii, a Mazda employee, and has just been livery by TOYO TIRE. At the recent JAF-CUP all-star race, the RX-7 won the JG-2 class, which is a modified 2-wheel drive class.
There were two competition events on the 21st. The first was the Eighteen Cup, a historic time trial event that has been held at various circuits since 2005, with 32 RX-8s gathered for the 77th time. The RTE Eighteen μ Amemiya RX8, one of the pioneers of this cup, set the top time of 1:42.439.
This final battle was the second race of the Matsutai Chugoku round by the TUNED class, and it started following a mini live performance by Hiroaki Tagawa and the playing of the national anthem. The overall winner was the JRC Power Roadster No. 4 (NA8C) driven by Tsuyoshi Onishi and Yasunobu Handa. Due to the safety car run during the race, the car ran 73 laps, just short of the course record set last year. The average speed of 107.459km/h and the fastest lap of 1 minute 53.303 seconds are also impressive. Other than the Roadster, the top ranking DXL Black Cat Team Demio was the highest ranked car, finishing 8th overall with 71 laps.
With the sunset approaching at 16:59, the All Mazda Circuit Parade Run, open to all visitors, will close the two-day event, a promise that has not changed since the MAZDA FAN FESTA. I would like to put down my pen in the hope that next year’s event will be even more exciting with more content and more Mazda fans.
Text and Photos by B Sports, English translation by MZRacing