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After day two of Targa Tasmania, Mazda’s twin Mazda3 MPS rally cars have each moved up a position in Showroom and the high-spinning rotary RX-8 SP has eased into the Modern top ten.

The 195kW Mazda3 MPS rally car driven by Brendan Reeves in the Showroom competition put on a brilliant performance over the day’s nine dry stages, moving into second position late in the day.

Reeves, and his navigating sister Rhianon Smyth, put a further seven seconds between them and the third-placed Mazda3 MPS crewed by team-mates Rick Bates and Anthony McLoughlin.

Reeves moves into day three with a penalty time of eight minutes and 26 seconds and with his eye firmly on a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Evo in first place.

“It was another great day in the Mazda3 MPS,” said Reeves. “Today’s stages were very competitive and it will only get more so as the event progresses over the weekend.”

“As always Rhianon and I are working really well together, but we need to keep tyre preservation at top of mind while maintaining a competitive pace.”

Bates and McLoughlin were lucky not to lose time today when a rock punctured the alloy sump on their Mazda3 MPS. A quick fix was carried out on the spot by Mazda mechanics and the car continued on and finished the day.

The Mazda Motorsport team will replace the sump overnight.

Despite the temporary setback, Bates was pleased with the performance of his Mazda3 MPS and looks forward to the next few days of competition.

“We had a really consistent run today,” said Bates. “The Mazda3 MPS is in great shape for us to capitalise off over the coming days. Our tyres are great and have a lot of wear left in them so we’re travelling well. The Mazda3 MPS performs beautifully in the wet so a little bit of rain would be great.”

The race unproven Mazda RX-8 SP crewed by 2008 Targa champions Steve Glenney and Bernie Webb continues to perform well on its Targa Tasmania debut.

The pair finished day two in equal ninth position with a penalty time of six minutes and 16 seconds.

The modern rotary-spun sports coupe blasted through the day’s stages equalling the times of more powerful, four-wheel drive rivals on several stages.

Eighth place is only 32 seconds from the Mazda’s grab and the champion duo is confident they can make up some more time on their rivals tomorrow.

“It’s a fiercely competitive field out there,” said Glenney. “As anticipated the Mazda RX-8 SP is really starting to come into its own.

“We’re proving very competitive against our more powerful four-wheel drive rivals and with three full days left to run the field will soon open up and make way for some really exhilarating racing."

Mazda motorsport manager Allan Horsley oversaw yet another frantic yet fruitful day for drivers and crew.

“It’s great to see both Mazda3 MPS rally cars move up a spot today and now they’ll continue to apply more pressure to the leading car in the class. We are quite satisfied that our strategy of consistent and conservative is the right way to go.

“Steve and Bernie are doing a fantastic job in the Mazda RX-8 SP and the car continues to be developed as we go along. We’re dealing with a few niggles but we’re confident they won’t interfere with the car’s strong performance.

“It’s been really light on its tyres and hopefully that means it will only get quicker over the coming days.”

Friday sees a further eight stages over 67 competitive kilometres. The cars will travel from Launceston to Devonport and back again totalling 350km.

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

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