iRacing has partnered with Mazda Motorsport as part of their driver development programme, presenting sim racers with a chance to do it all for real.
The Mazda MX-5 is a potent car when it comes to racing – Mazda Motorsports has more than 9,000 club racers in the U.S, and it remains a popular choice on the virtual track in iRacing. Regular viewers of Neil's iRacing career web series will have seen it being put through its paces at Laguna SECA in recent episodes. Now it's being used as an entry point for the real life Mazda MX-5 Cup.
iRacers competing in the 2014 iRacing MX-5 Cup season starting April 29th will be eligible to enter the Mazda Club Racing Shootout, which is held each Autumn. The winner of the shootout will then earn a Mazda Motorsports scholarship for the following year's Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires.
"As racers know, iRacing is more than a game," John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations, commented. "It is an amazing simulation tool for a driver to learn new tracks and keep in top mental shape away from the track. We’re thrilled that we can further expand our driver support program to include even more potential champions."
“The partnership between Mazda and iRacing is a natural,” says Tony Gardner, president of iRacing.com. “As we all know, more MX-5s are road-raced on any given weekend than any other model of car. What’s also true is that, on any given day, more MX-5s are sim-raced on iRacing than any other car. Not only does this partnership offer exciting opportunities for our many members who are aspiring racers, it will also enable Mazda teams to tap into a deep pool of new driving talent.”
Mazda's driver development programme first started in 2007, however, where it was known as the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development ladder, which includes the Mazda Road to Indy, Mazda Club Racer Shootout, as well as the recently announced Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy.