Mazda has gone to great lengths to prove the sports car genes in its MX-5 Roadster, 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.
From the first day’s practice sessions and qualifying a clear favourite emerged in the shape of the Australian team, which dominated the day 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.
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.
Australia led until 40 minutes into the last leg, when Russia overtook them. This culminated some amazing heroics from the Russian team that had battled their way back after spinning out early and falling back to 17th. The Russians were able to increase their lead, but were then hunted down by the Australian team – showing some heroics of their own – who made it an exciting neck-and neck race at the end. Australia’s lead driver was pushed off the track, returned and then made the mistake that sent him into the snow for second place. 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.