Bank Holiday Monday 17th April 2017 saw our normally aspirated Mazda RX-8 hit the track for the first time since October last year with a whole new livery, new wheels and tyres and a change in mindset for driver Antony Weeks.
Having developed the car and first phase of its engine during the 2016 season where it collected a Class Win at Donington, class wins and 3rd overall in the Welsh Sports Saloon Car Class Championship, the pressure to perform was greatly reduced for the start of the 2017 season.
With brand new Yokohama AD08R tyres and smaller, wider yet lighter wheels with a more aggressive offset, Antony was able to lap a whole 1.2 seconds faster around the 1.85 mile Castle Combe Circuit in Wiltshire, UK compared to the fastest times set at the last round in October 2016.
Finishing 4th in Class B against more powerful and/or lighter machinery, the RX-8 overcame some excellent battles with several Renault Clio 182/192's showing a clean pair of heels and a 16 second gap across the line after 14 laps.
In comparison, another Mazda RX-8 driven by Racing Beat Europe's Clive Haynsford was also racing at Combe on the same day. With a turbocharged, hybrid RX7/RX8 engine pushing in the region of 400bhp and on slick tyres, Antony's 1:19.785 race time was only 2.056 seconds off Clive's own race fastest lap!
With new brakes scheduled to arrive before the next round, we're hopeful for even faster times next time out!