7TUNE’s Dutch based European correspondent, Mathieu van den Oever presents this awesome look into a race series that’s really taken off with fans, sponsors and drivers alike; The Total Mazda MaX5 Cup…
After several injury filled years of skateboarding, you find yourself in a spot where you have to get the adrenaline kicks somewhere else. Like many of us, I have been going through such a phase in my life and I had to find a new challenge. Speed and wheels had to be included in the package and some good fun needed to be added to the recipe as well!
Along with several other skaters & snowboarders I developed a strong passion for cars and motorsports in general. We did a track day every now and then and we would hit the Nurburgrings Nordschleife every other month. We’d stay to watch the endurance races on Sunday and then do a few laps on the Monday before we headed home. Happy days!
Watching races was one thing but actually organising and racing ourselves was something completely different. Long time friend Mick Hoogwerf was up for the challenge and took matters into his own hands. Mick reads nearly any car related book or magazine. And when he is not reading? It is most likely that you find him at a racetrack or in some fast car on a winding road.
In 2006, Mick got inspired by an article in British magazine “Circuit Driver” about the Mazda MX-5 one-make series called MaX5 Racing. (Now known as Ma5da Racing)
As a long time MX-5 owner, he immediately recognized the racing capabilities of the little roadster. Mick contacted the organizers in the U.K. to see if there would be any potential in setting up a similar series in the Netherlands.
Several emails and phone calls later, a few of the UK teams crossed the channel to participate in the 2007 Winter Endurance Championship at the Zandvoort racetrack. These try-out races immediately generated very positive feedback from potential drivers, fans and the media. In the above image you can see Mick in one of his first races in a U.K. car.
With the back up of Mick’s father, who happens to own a Mazda dealership, the Dutch version of MaX5 Racing was born in 2008. The first year only saw three teams on the grid but we were just happy that the series came to life! The photo shows the start of the 2008 race at the Assen racetrack in Holland. A challenging track which you might know from Moto GP.
Fast forward to 2011.
With the support of Mazda Motor Holland, Total Fuel, Toyo Tires, I.L. Motorsport and a lot of hard work, the series has turned into one of Holland’s most fun and attractive championships. The grid almost reaches 30 cars and the atmosphere is very friendly. The events are more like a meeting than a race day but when the flag drops the battles are on! The championship is now known as the Total Mazda MaX5 Cup.
Not only the grid has grown over these last few years but also the amount of foreign races. This year the cup will not only race on the Dutch tracks of Zandvoort and Assen but also on Spa Franchorchamps and Zolder in Belgium and Croix et Ternois in France.
Here is Rudy Schilders, in his I.L. Motorsport sponsored car, flying through the Eau Rouge corner at Spa Franchorchamps in 2010. In October of this year we will race here with the entire MaX5 grid.
The main reason why the championship is so successful is that the cars are kept nearly stock. The 1.6 NA engine is hardly modified. For safety reasons, a fully welded cage has been put into the stripped Mazda’s. The brakes, wheels, tires and coilovers are upgraded but are the same for all cars. This makes the cars not only equal on track but also very affordable as an entry level motorsport category.
This image shows you exactly how competitive the championship is. The Total Mazda MaX5 Cup had three different champions in the three years of it’s existence.
Here they are all together on the podium during one of last years races.
In the middle it is Laurens van Alphen the 2010 champion. Second is Rudy Schilders, he won the series in 2009. Mick Hoogwerf took third in this race and he was the first one to win the championship back in 2008.
With Toyo Tires onboard as a partner, the lap times have improved dramatically. All cars run the R1R tires which not only give great performance but also last very well during the races. This brought the field even closer together resulting in hard fought battles all over the track.
Even with the grippy Toyo’s it does not mean that you can not drift a MX-5. Here is Dick van Rij sliding out of the Audi S corner at Zandvoort.
Besides acting as a sponsor for the cup, Mazda Motor Holland is also entering a car in the championship. The car is available for journalist’s with a racing license who want to write about the championship and their experiences in the car during the race days. In the above shot, Jerwin de Graaf from Quest magazine is experiencing his first race ever. Although he finished nearly last, the smile on his face said enough.
Racing the MX-5 is fun. A lot of fun!!!
Here you can see some video action from the Total Mazda MaX5 Cup:
More information on the Total Mazda MaX5 Cup can be found on:
For the U.K. based races check:
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Words – Mathieu van den Oever
Photos – Mathieu van den Oever