2004 Pro Formula Mazda prototype completes first on-track test.

January 20, 2003. Hethel, UK. Turning wheels around Lotus’ Hethel test track, the 2004 Pro Formula Mazda prototype had a successful debut, covering over 100 miles on its maiden voyage and impressing test driver, and UK Formula Ford Champion, Wesley Barber with its acceleration and drivetrain, who compared it favorably to an F3 car.

Van Diemen and Star Mazda personnel spent the first hour working on engine mapping and drivability for the Mazda “Renesis” rotary engine which will power both the Pro Formula Mazda and the new Mazda RX-8. Once mapping was complete the remainder of the test was spent working on the handling dynamics for the new chassis, with the crew adjusting ride heights, sway bars, and spring rates. Despite temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit the prototype was able to put up decent performance numbers, with cornering forces exceeding 2.5 G’s.

The prototype should be shipped to the United States, along with a second prototype currently under construction, in early February, with plans to continue the development in conjunction with Star Mazda Series North American Championship events until the middle of 2003, at which point construction of customer cars will commence.