Mazda’s MX-5 roadster proved again yesterday its pure sports cars genes, this time on ice in Sweden at the Mazda Ice Race 2011. Clear blue skies and polar temperatures provided the right conditions for an exhilarating festival of drift and control as drivers from 26 nations competed in specially modified roadsters for a podium finish.

Day 1 – the Aussie’s make it look easy After Tuesday’s practice sessions and qualifying, a clear favourite emerged with the Australian team, which dominated Day 1 and took pole position. They also won the hearts of everyone by wearing swimming trucks over their racing overalls – in honour of summer down under – and driving with a tiny kangaroo mascot fastened to the top of their car’s safety cage. They made it look easy on Day 1 with their only real challenge coming from the Russian team, which took second on the grid.

Day 2 – Russian Heroics and Belgium Consistency Race day featured beautiful blue skies, glistening snow and a morning temperature of -31º C. This ensured ideal conditions on the ice of Lake Kallsjön, which is located in the Östersund region of west-central Sweden. The race itself was conducted in two sessions, each two hours long, with the car completing the most laps the winner. Like last year’s MX-5 Open Race in Italy, it was drifting control and not pure speed that proved the decisive factor in the race. The Australians continued to dominate as they had on Day 1 and led for nearly the entire race. But then a small mistake, a spin-out, and Russia overtook them at the end, holding on for the chequered flag; with Australia second.

Russia’s win followed some amazing heroics from the team. They began the race in second th place but spun-out early, fell back to 14 , only to battle their way back to second by the end of the first session. They then patiently held this spot, hoping for a miracle, and were able to capitalise on Australia’s misfortune at the end of the final session for a truly exciting win. The Belgium team displayed the consistently good driving you would expect from last year’s MX-5 Open Race winners, coming from far back in the pack to take third.

The unforgettable day out on the ice culminated with a Champagne spray on the podium from the three winning teams.

The Mazda Ice Race 2011 was crowned later that evening at a gala dinner and show for pilots, teams and invited guests who had won a Mazda competition in their home countries for a place at the event. Jeff Guyton, Mazda Motor Europe’s President and CEO, gave a short speech and presented trophies to the tired but happy winners. This was followed by dinner and a celebration of MX-5 Ice Race memories lasting late into the night.

Pictures and videos of the race will be made available at Mazda Motor Europe’s press portal www.mazda-press.com within the next few days.