The inaugural MX-5 Cup Global Invitational race came to a thrilling conclusion on Sunday at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, with a victory for the American Nathanial Sparks but strong showing from all the international competitors.

European racers from Poland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden, who had won a place in the weekend’s races through Mazda’s Friends of MX-5 initiative, competed against drivers from Japan and Australia, plus 10 Americans.

The highest-placed international racer in Sunday’s race was Yuui Tsutsumi, who came third, with Germany’s Moritz Kranz just behind in fourth. Kranz was also the highest-placed international driver in Saturday’s race, finishing in sixth position.

After points from Saturday’s and Sunday’s races were tallied, the overall standings for the weekend were as follows:

1  Nathanial Sparks, USA, Sick Sideways Racing, 121
2  John Dean II, USA, Sick Sideways Racing, 109
3  Robby Foley, USA, Atlanta Motorsports Group, 98
4  Moritz Kranz, Germany, Copeland Motorsports, 98
5  Yuui Tsutsumi, Japan, Copeland Motorsports, 96

“Mazda is an international company with a passion for driving, and that passion includes motorsports,” said Masahiro Moro, President and CEO of Mazda North American Operations. “We are thrilled to be able to export some of that driving excitement from our established North American motorsports group to Mazda affiliates around the world, and we are already discussing how to make the second annual MX-5 Cup Global Invitational even better.”

To qualify for the Global Invitational, European competitors took part in a Mazda Friends of MX-5 training camp at the ParcMotor Circuit near Barcelona, Spain, in July. Driving 2016 Mazda MX-5 Global Cup cars, an initial 20 competitors took part in a number of racing, endurance, reaction and simulator assessments, with a knock-out process cutting the field down to the final five who competed this weekend.

One of those five was Polish racer Kamil Franczak, who finished eighth in Sunday’s race. “The race was amazing,” he commented. “I felt much more comfortable in the second race and was pleased with my consistency and pace throughout. It felt amazing to be here, and overall the Friends of MX-5 program is an amazing opportunity to make dreams come true. They gave me the chance to race here at Mazda Raceway.” 

Complete results and additional series information can be found at and the races can be viewed in their entirety in the archives at


About MX-5 Cup

The MX-5 Cup series puts racing drivers into identically prepared Mazda MX-5 Cup cars, as a pure test of their driving skills. Each Cup car starts life as a complete MX-5 road car from the Mazda Hiroshima, Japan factory. The vehicles are then transported to engineering development partner Long Road Racing in Statesville, North Carolina where they are fitted with a full roll cage and have their interiors stripped for racing. More than 250 motorsports-specific parts are added before other components of the car, including the Mazda SKYACTIV 2.0 litre engine, are sealed to ensure even competition and a cost-effective platform. More information can be found online at


About Friends of MX-5

Launched in April 2016, Friends of MX-5 is a programme designed by Mazda to engage car lovers everywhere, whether they are current MX-5 owners or not. Friends of MX-5 is open to anyone across Europe with a passion for driving encapsulated by the world’s best-selling roadster, the Mazda MX-5. The programme includes rewards for members and exclusive opportunities, such as the chance to compete at this weekend’s international event. Full details can be found at the dedicated Friends of MX-5 Facebook page.