This September, five grassroots racers will line up on the grid at the legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in full race-specification Mazda MX-5 Cup cars, for a special Global Mazda MX-5 Cup race.
An intense knock-out competition over the weekend, at ParcMotor Circuit, Barcelona, saw 20 qualifiers whittled down to ten, with further knock-outs then taking the field down to the five finalists who will soon be packing their bags for the U.S.

The winners are: Moritz Kranz (Germany), Kamil Franczak (Poland), Erik Blixt (Sweden), Oliver Allwood (UK), Gabriele Gardel (Switzerland)

The would-be racers were recruited from all over Europe as part of Mazda’s Friends of MX-5 engagement initiative, and came together at the weekend’s training camp to face-off through a rigorous set of assessments in a nail-biting knock-out format. Professional racing instructors judged the competitors in dynamic driving, race track driving, reaction tests, basic fitness, and even on their media handling prowess. All the skills needed to graduate from the grassroots to one of the greatest race tracks in the world; Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Jerome de Haan, Director Public Relations, Mazda Motor Europe, commented: “We are pleased to announce our five winners who will now go on to race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This intense weekend of motorsport action, and the competitions leading up to it, were just part of our wider Friends of MX-5 initiative that mixes racing with lifestyle experiences and once-in-a-lifetime rewards.”

Launched in April 2016, Friends of MX-5 engages with car lovers everywhere, be they MX-5 owners or not. The invitation to join is open to anyone who wants to share in the fun and passion of MX-5, across Europe.

The lifelike iRacing racing simulator was a regular test-bed during the weekend training camp, as well as at local Mazda events and a 12-round platform race series, beforehand. Of the 20 qualifiers at the training camp, six came from simulator competitions, with a further seven coming from national MX-5 race series. The final seven would-be racers of the 20 were hand-picked MX-5 enthusiasts from across Europe.

During the assessment weekend, the competitors also got to try out the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Global Cup car; a thoroughbred race car with over 200 race components added to each brand new factory specification base car.

Highlights of the MX-5 Cup car’s specification include: adjustable Dynamic coilover suspension, GEMS engine management, race-tuned factory Brembo brakes, and FIA approved roll cage. All of this, and a host of other top-spec components, including high grip BFGoodrich slick tyres, turn the already agile and dynamic MX-5 road car into the apex-hungry Cup race car.

With their thoroughbred race cars, the five new Friends of MX-5 racers will line up in a packed field at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca against full-time Global Mazda MX-5 Cup racers, all of whom will be fired up for the win. The Friends of MX-5 racers will have a fight on their hands to break through to the front of this highly competitive field, in what will surely be one of the most exciting days of their lives.