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Mazda’s 2009 Targa Tasmania campaign got off to a flying start today with the Mazda3 MPS of Brendan Reeves the fastest two-wheel drive Showroom car, while the rotary-powered Mazda RX-8 SP nudges the Modern top-ten.

Mazda3 MPS drivers Brendan Reeves and Rick Bates went head-to-head in their twin showroom-spec hot-hatches. 20-year-old Reeves eventually finished the day third in Showroom, 18-seconds ahead of his more experienced team-mate.
 
“It was so fantastic to finally be out there competing,” said Reeves. “The Mazda3 MPS handled beautifully in today’s open and flowing stages but I can’t wait until we get on tighter and more twisting roads.

“Targa Tasmania is a very long event, and this is only day one so we have to keep in mind our long-term strategy for the rally – to finish, and finish well.”

Bates, a more experienced Mazda3 MPS pilot, wasn’t rattled by his younger team-mate’s performance and chose to focus on his own strategy for tomorrow.

“This is Brendan’s first Targa and I think he’s doing a great job. Plus there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition between friends – as long as he doesn’t beat me,” joked Bates.

“Tomorrow is another day and we’re focused on getting through the day and making sure our tyres go the distance.

“The Mazda3 MPS will really come into its own tomorrow as the stages really start to tighten up, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

Reeves and Bates remain hot on the tail of two, four-wheel drive showroom rivals.

There were no signs of rain in Northern Tasmania today as Mazda’s two-wheel-drive triple turbo treat made its way over the day’s nine open and flowing closed-road stages.

After fixing the electrical gremlin that scuppered the Mazda RX-8 SP at yesterday’s Prologue, the high-revving rotary sports car powered through the day at the hand of reigning Targa Champion Steve Glenney.

Glenney, competing in the fiercely-contested Modern Competition, eventually finished the day 11th outright, just 15 seconds off his tenth placed rival.
 
“After yesterday’s uncertain start the Mazda RX-8 SP really showed its true capabilities today,” said Glenney. “It handles and drives beautifully, particularly after we made a very slight ride height adjustment which helped dial out a little bit of unwanted understeer.”

“This is one of the most competitive fields I have ever experienced at Targa Tasmania,” said Glenney. “I think there are about 12 really quick cars in this competition challenging for a podium finish and we’re going to give it our best shot.”

Mazda motorsport Allan Horsley is feeling good about the four days that lie ahead for his team.

“It was a pretty satisfying day today, particularly with the Mazda RX-8 SP. Today’s stages didn’t really suit our cars so to be on the pace at this early stage, we really couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Thursday sees a further nine stages over 81 competitive kilometres travelling from Launceston to St Helens and back, and includes the European rivalling and car breaking 14km Sideling stage.

Track the team’s progress at www.mazda.com.au/targa

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