• Mar 10th 2009 at 4:29PM
  • 19
Click above for high-res image gallery of Mazda's turbocharged RX-8

Mazda's turbocharged RX-8 SP will be making its Australian rally debut at the 2009 Targa Tasmania. The 2,821-pound sports car, driven by Steve Glenney and co-driver Bernia Webb, will be competing in the "Showroom 2WD" class.

Developed by Mazda Motorsport Australia, the coupe is powered by a rotary turbo engine rated at about 275-horsepower, with a six-speed manual transmission sending power to the rear wheels. "The RX-8's perfect 50/50 weight balance will give it a huge dynamic advantage on Tasmania's twisting roads. That, combined with its torquey turbocharged engine, will make the RX-8 SP a standout at this year's Targa," says Glenney.

The grueling race runs from April 28 to May 3, and covers 1890 km (1,174 miles) including 40 competitive closed-road stages.

[Source: Mazda]


Mazda RX-8 SP to Make Australian Rally Debut; Targa Champ to Drive
  • Turbocharged Mazda RX-8 SP returns Mazda's SP moniker to motorsport
  • Mazda RX-8 SP developed by Mazda Motorsport Australia
  • 2008 Targa winner Steve Glenney to drive; Bernie Webb will navigate
  • Mazda RX-8 SP follows in footsteps of four-time Enduro-winning RX-7 SP
  • Targa Tasmania 2009: Tuesday April 28 - Sunday May 3
Targa Tasmania 2009 will see the return to competition of Mazda's famed SP moniker.

A production Mazda RX-8 GT – the only rotary-powered performance car in Australia – has been turbocharged, given a roll cage and readied for the toughest test in Australian endurance racing.

The Mazda RX-8 SP will enter the hotly-contested Modern Competition, piloted by a man used to racing at the highest level: 2008 Targa champion Steve Glenney.

South Australian horse trainer Glenney and his co-driver Bernie Webb are accustomed to setting the pace on Tasmania's challenging roads, winning the 2008 event outright.

They jumped at the chance to give the Mazda RX-8 SP its motorsport debut. Glenney says nothing short of a podium finish will do.

"I'm excited to be chosen by Mazda Motorsport to play a role in the development of the Mazda RX-8, and to be driving it in its Australian rally debut," he said.

"The RX-8's a great-looking car, the rotary engine is synonymous with Mazda's Motorsport history in Australia, and I'm confident of getting a top result for Mazda."

Glenney is looking forward to his fifth Targa experience and says the RX-8's inherent attributes will give his rotary-spun rally car a competitive edge in the five-day event.

"The RX-8's perfect 50/50 weight balance will give it a huge dynamic advantage on Tasmania's twisting roads. That, combined with its torquey turbocharged engine, will make the RX-8 SP a standout at this year's Targa."

Mazda Motorsport manager Allan Horsley is the mastermind behind Mazda's most potent attack on Targa.

"It's great to be able to put together our biggest Targa team in ten years, especially in these challenging times. Competitive motorsport is an integral part of Mazda's Zoom-Zoom spirit."

Horsley says a lot of preparation has gone into making the Mazda RX-8 SP as competitive as possible, but is cautious about its prospects.

"Targa Tasmania is not a race to be taken lightly. It's a flat-out sprint over 2,000km in five tough days, and that's a real test of man and machine. The RX-8 SP has plenty of potential, but it is an unknown package in a rally environment. So it's difficult to know how it will perform at its first competitive outing."

The Mazda RX-8 SP follows in the tyre tracks of Mazda's four back-to-back 12-hour Endurance race wins between 1992-1995 with the Mazda RX-7 SP. Mazda's last competitive outing with the RX-7 SP was at the 2002 Targa Tasmania with Rick Bates at the wheel.

Targa Tasmania
The 2009 Targa Tasmania runs from April 28 to May 3 and comprises around 1890km, including 465km across 40 competitive closed-road stages.

The Mazda RX-8 will be competing in the Modern Competition. The Mazda3 MPS will be competing for honours in the Showroom 2WD Competition. All Modern and Showroom competitors are competing for outright honours.

Mazda RX-8 SP

Modern Competition
Driver: Steve Glenney, SA, Co-Driver: Bernie Webb, ACT

Engine: Rotary Turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, RWD
Power: 205 kW
Torque: 300 Nm
Fuel tank: 65 litres
Kerb weight: 1280 kg
Wheels: 18-inch MAZDASPEED alloys

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      How small is this turbo if it is only netting an extra 40hp at the flywheel? RX-8 is only rated at 236hp by Mazda.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yeah, I have seen 700hp RX-8s with a single turbo and 22lb boost. It has a great chassis and looks pretty cool, but torque just does not exist and hp is pretty weak.

        I hope the next one will be better. Like 450hp and a really sweet hybrid/ rotary thing. That would fix the TQ problems.
      • 6 Years Ago

      Please build an RX-7! With a turbo!! Please!!

      Rotaries can have torque. My FD made 465 rwhp and 365 rwtq . Not as torquey as a V8, but way more than stock. I think the renesis is particularly weak in the torque compared to the 13b-rew.. of course it's NA, but even the last NA (FC) had torque that was more proportionate to the power band.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As an ex-RX-8 owner glad to see this but hope that Steve & Bernie don't mind topping off oil at fill-ups during the rally.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Torquey? 221 ft-lb is torquey? what is the competition like in this race? And it looks to me like the the RX8 is in the Modern class and the MPS3 is in the showroom class. At any rate, i'm sure it will be a very exciting race to watch. that's long!
        • 6 Years Ago
        I thought maybe it was Kiwi slang for "cute".
        • 6 Years Ago
        For a rotary that is a truck load of torque. I have built several super high horse power NA 13Bs with 420+hp and barely had that kind of torque.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. I saw the words "torquey" and "RX-8" in the same sentence and had to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep at my desk.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If mazda would offer a 275bhp factory turbo RX-8, I would probably trade in my Evo X...
      The RX8 chassis is amazing, and a pleasure to drive. Sometimes the evo just seems like a pig (3400lbs!)...
      • 6 Years Ago
      "We're gonna take a sweet rotary engine...."


      "It revs to 9k...."


      "And we're gonna put a turbo on it for racing!"

      "Sweet! How much power is that beast gonna put out!?"

      "275 to the flywheel"

        • 6 Years Ago
        Hahaahaha... true :)

        Well, at least it gains a significant torque bump in the midrange where the stock rotary is really weak.
        • 6 Years Ago
        All the rotary heads are going to love this comment, but here goes.

        You have to remember that this, even though it was made by the factory, a turbo kit on an n/a engine. Not a factory turbo engine built with f/i in mind. So only adding 40hp was so it might have a chance of finishing the race and not popping its seals. Even factory turbo RX-7's had this problem at stock boost levels, they just wouldn't hold together long term.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It'd be really neat if, in the RX-9, Mazda offers a turbo from the factory. With direct injection in the works for the 16X as well, it'd be fantastic.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Mazda lost alot of sales by not releasing a turbo RX-8 to the public, but now there are better track cars anyway.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I flipped the numbers. Fixed.

      - Mike
      • 6 Years Ago
      Read this wondering "how'd they get it so lite" 2281 pounds os lighter than a last gen miata. Then I did the math on the metric kerb weight given in the press release and came up with 2821.9, so it looks like a bit of number transposition. Too bad, I wouldn't mind having an rx-8 that was so light and powerful.
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