Archive for September, 2011

Organizational and Personnel Changes

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 28th, 2011


Mazda Production and Sales Results for August 2011 (Flash Report)

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 28th, 2011


Mazda Launches Second SKYACTIV Model in Japan: Facelifted Axela

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 28th, 2011


Flyin Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 5: The final days

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 18th, 2011

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Flyin' Miata at Targa Newfoundland 2011

Two mistakes. After six days of late nights bent over the route book with calculator in hand, long days of non-stop rallying and lengthy transits, we’ve covered over 2,200 kilometers, raced 41 stages and made two penalty-worthy mistakes. There simply aren’t words to convey the spectrum of emotions that accompanies the Targa Newfoundland, and the Flyin’ Miata crew experienced its fair share of highs and lows throughout. While Wednesday saw both teams leading their respective classes, Thursday had nasty surprises in store for both the V8 Roadster and the supercharged NC.

Due to a transcription error, I fouled the finish time for stage 4-5, Garnish. We were supposed to cover the 13.25 kilometers in 8:43; I directed Brandon to the finish in 8:51, which landed us three seconds of time-over penalty plus another four seconds of interim time-control penalties. That seven seconds alone knocked us off of the podium, but the last stage of the day, Marystown North, saw an additional 7 seconds tacked onto our time after we missed the first turn and were forced to turn around.

Continue reading…

Continue reading Flyin Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 5: The final days

Flyin Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 5: The final days originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 17 Sep 2011 19:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 4: Off to Gander

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 16th, 2011

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Flyin Miata at the 2011 Targa Newfoundland

While I thought that I grasped just how unique and amazing the Targa Newfoundland is in the world of motorsports, the breadth of this event’s character didn’t hit home until I got here. We spent the majority of yesterday’s morning and afternoon tackling stages in and around Gander, a small town about 206 miles north of St. John’s. Despite my completely misinterpreting the route book on stage one and a near miss with an time control, we managed to zero every stage and avoid any penalties, but the two final stages of the day presented a challenge that we weren’t exactly prepared for.

Though the stages we had covered so far had given me gracious periods of three, four and even five kilometers during which I could insert my own time and distance way points to keep the 2006 Flyin’ Miata Mazda MX-5 on course and on time, the last two did not. Both stages took place on the same seven kilometer course that wound through a dense subdivision. That’s right, kids. We would be attempting to carry a 57.5 kph (35.7 mph) average through a series of 29 90-degree turns. I would have no more than 300 meters at most to alert Brandon Fitch, my valiant driver, of the direction of and distance to the next turn as well as monitor our time as we passed each instruction.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t have much hope for our chances.

We lined up, the lights went hot and in a second, we were blurring through the subdivision. With Fitch’s help, I was able to glean enough time to glance at our egg timers and equate the figures with our actual distance. We were going to nail it.

We zeroed Gander on the first run and managed a repeat performance for the second pass. As Fitch put it, “This is the most awesome thing. Ever. In the history of the world.”

I’m inclined to agree. Our efforts today managed to place us in first for the second day in a row, but with days of 12-hour driving and calculating quickly stacking up, our chances for careless errors are increasing drastically. Stay tuned for more updates and keep an eye on the 2011 Targa Newfoundland site for our times.

Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 4: Off to Gander originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 15 Sep 2011 10:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 5: Stay on target

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 16th, 2011

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Flyin' Miata at Targa Newfoundland

It’s a good day to be in the Flyin’ Miata camp. As of the conclusion of Day 3 of competition, both the V8 Roadster and the Supercharged 2006 MX-5 hold the top position in their respective classes. While Keith and Janel Tanner have managed to sling their 430-horsepower machine through Wednesday’s nine stages to take the top slot, Brandon Fitch and I overcame a few small obstacles to zero all of our times through the day. Despite my fat-fingering the egg-timers ahead of the incredibly technical Greenspond stage, we came in just two-seconds outside of dead zero and well within our plus or minus nine-second window.

I also received a front-row showing of Fitch’s driving prowess after the car stalled at the start of the third-to-last stage. In a desperate push to make up lost time, the Flyin’ Miata engineer pushed the 240-horse Miata to 128 kph through a series of undulating turns. That figure is just two kph shy of our maximum allowable speed. Crossing that barrier brings all sorts of unsavory penalties.

Thursday will bring forth a whole new set of challenges as our window narrows to plus or minus five seconds. While we used today to train ourselves to arrive at the flying finish well within our final day tolerances, fatigue is beginning to set in on both Brandon and I, greatly increasing the chance of a careless error that could cost us our lead. Regardless of how we wrap up on Friday, the fact that we can say that we tied for first across the first three days of the 2011 Targa Newfoundland is a story I’ll be blathering at cocktail parties for years.

Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 5: Stay on target originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 15 Sep 2011 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2013 Mazda CX-5 looks better without the camouflage

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 14th, 2011

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2013 Mazda CX-5

As you might recall, we recently spent some time behind the wheel of a camouflaged Mazda CX-5 prototype in Iceland. And while we walked away impressed with our short stint behind the wheel, the fact that the car was covered in cheetah paper meant we couldn’t quite see the final design – until now.

It’s a good-looking crossover, this CX-5, keeping true to Mazda’s original Minagi concept that first bowed at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. What’s more, the CX-5 will be a much-welcomed replacement for the Ford-supplied Tribute crossover – a vehicle that never really set the sales charts on fire.

When we drove the CX-5, we were very impressed with the SkyActiv 2.0-liter gasoline engine, though we’re still crossing our fingers that Mazda will offer the 2.2-liter diesel powerplant here in the United States. Nevertheless, we give the CX-5 two thumbs up, and you can see the final road-ready version in our attached high-res image gallery.

2013 Mazda CX-5 looks better without the camouflage originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 14 Sep 2011 07:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Welcome to the jungle

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 14th, 2011

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Zach Bowman and Brandond Fitch with Flyin Miata at the Targa Newfoundland

The 2011 Targa Newfoundland is officially underway after three prologue stages on Sunday. As our first real taste of targa competition, the day was instrumental in alerting Brandon Fitch, driver of the number 1680 Flyin’ Miata Supercharged Mazda Miata, and myself to the fact that we had no holy clue as to what we were doing.

As a co-driver in the Grand Touring class, it’s my job to make sure that we arrive at the flying finish line as close to our target time as humanly possible. Early in the event, we get to enjoy nice, wide 30-second time windows. Later in the week, that gap will narrow to a slender six seconds. During the prologue, we either under- or over-shot our times by as much as 30 additional seconds outside of our window.

Mercy.

What was the problem, you ask? Our rally computer, the infamous Terratrip, seems to have been designed specifically to confound and infuriate. With Brandon doing his best to keep us shiny side up during a stage, I’m trying to call out the distances to the next instruction in descending intervals of 100 meters, the instructions themselves, monitor our time as we arrive at the instruction and hopefully keep an eye on our average speed to tell us whether or not we were close to hitting our time. It didn’t work that way.

For starters, the Terratrip seems to have a preference for calculating average speed not from the time that the vehicle begins moving, but from the instant that you turn the machine on. Not helpful. If I cleared the screens in preparation for our start time, the computer began factoring two minutes of zeros into our average speed, rendering a completely useless number.

Keep reading to see how it turned out…

Continue reading Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Welcome to the jungle

Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Welcome to the jungle originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 13 Sep 2011 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 1: Meet your classmates

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 10th, 2011

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While the 2011 Targa Newfoundland doesn’t officially kick off until Monday, a handful of competitors have already arrived in St. John’s to take advantage of the Open Road Motorsports Targa School. Operated by veterans of the event, the school gives novice competitors a little taste of the days to come. Glen Clarke, our instructor, routinely pilots a Porsche 911 to accolades and glory, so his word is worth pure gold to our motley crew. Over the course of eight hours, the Grand Touring Flyin’ Miata team was introduced to the basics of navigation, ran a trial stage and generally sorted the roles of driver and co-pilot.

Our class included targa competitors from years past as well as newcomers like ourselves, including racers piloting a Ferrari Enzo, a delicious Porsche 914 and a completely sinister Audi 200 Avant Turbo AWD. A few additional racers have also set up camp at the local Holiday Inn, including a Maserati MC12, a Ferrari F430 Spyder, a Lamborghini Murci


The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Homework and gearing up

Published by admin on September 7th, 2011

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Alpinestars Gear

We’re officially less than five days from the first stage of the 2011 Targa Newfoundland, and I’m frantically busy trying to cram as much information into my brain before arriving in St. John’s as I possibly can. Having never navigated in a rally, there’s a slew of symbols, terminology and theory to absorb before the green flag drops on September 10.

Then there’s the small issue of establishing a working relationship with the Terratrip on-board vehicle computer. The thing has an instruction manual that could have been written by a Soviet-era novelist, and while I think I’ll only be responsible for a few button mashes here and there, I don’t want to be the guy who accidentally recalibrates the machine or keys in the self-destruct code. Keep on reading to see how the rest of our preparations are proceeding.

Continue reading The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Homework and gearing up

The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Homework and gearing up originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Sep 2011 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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