From Prototype to MX-5 Cup Car

Oliver Jarvis gives the Mazda MX-5 Cup car a test, and is all grins

“It really put a smile on my face.” That’s what Oliver Jarvis, driver of the No. 70 Mazda RT24-P Daytona Prototype international car says about his first go in a Mazda MX-5 Cup car. Indeed, the driver of a 600hp, high-downforce prototype thoroughly enjoyed a few laps in the relatively simple MX-5-based racing machine.

“I was actually amazed,” he says. “‘I jumped in it and it was drizzling and we were on slicks, and I completely under-drove it – probably for the first five or 10 laps because I didn’t expect the amount of mechanical grip the car has. By the end of the day, I’m throwing the car about, really pushing it. The way the car behaves is incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever driven a car with so much mechanical grip.”

Jarvis experienced the car, one example of the cars raced in a variety of places including the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich® Tires, at a media day in the U.K. While he didn’t test it in the heat of competition, he’s watched enough of the MX-5 Cup races to have an idea of how it might go.

“What fantastic racing – nose to tail. I can see why it is so hard to be dominant in a car like that, because there is so much grip and it is so forgiving; plus, there is a fantastic slipstream and you can follow the cars in front,” he says, noting something that isn’t always possible with the downforce cars he has driven, such as the prototype or GT3 cars. “I think to race it, the difficulty is not in driving the car, it is competing with the 25 or 30 other competitors driving that car week in and week out.”

In fact, Jarvis admits that the prospect of being thrown onto a grid with drivers who may not have as much overall experience as he does, but who know the cars and each other far better, is slightly intimidating. Still, he thinks he’d jump at the chance.

“It’s just great fun,” he says. “It’s no wonder there are packed grids, because the car is fun to drive out on your own, so it must be even better with 20 or 30 cars around you. It’s definitely something I would consider. My concern is that the guys that drive it week in and week out might show me a thing or two!”

The Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup drivers have their next opportunity to show each other a thing or two at Portland International Raceway on Labor Day weekend when they join the Verizon IndyCar Series to put on a doubleheader. Look for information on ways to follow the action live as the event nears.