Mazda celebrity race destruction

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Damage bill to top $100,000 after celebrities smash their way to finish line at Australian F1 GP

Former Australian test cricketer Brad Hodge sailed to victory in the Mazda6 celebrity races, but the talking point of the high-profile support category at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix was the excessive level of damage inflicted on the cars.

The field of 21 celebrities crashed, bashed and bingled their way around Melbourne’s Albert Park street circuit in all three races across the weekend, leaving a damage bill expected to run beyond $100,000.

A total of 24 Mazda6 sedans were supplied for the event (including three spare race-prepped cars but not a fleet of road-going courtesy cars), but only 18 lined up for the final race on Sunday after six were damaged enough to be deemed undriveable for yesterday’s main event.


Mazda Australia National Marketing Manager, Alastair Doak, said he did't know what the total damage bill was but was philosophical about the carnage.

“You go into this thing and you know there's going to be a lot of damage to the cars. These people have never raced before and you put them into race conditions and a pressure environment,” said Doak.

“If you wanted pristine cars you'd never do it,” he opined, adding that the race is about “providing entertainment” and “just having a good time”.

The local Mazda marketing chief said the race was “very successful and the cars looked fantastic on the track” but was coy on whether the expenditure was worth it.

“It's a bit early to say, actually,” said Doak.

The extreme level of punishment the new Mazda mid-sizers took will be a major factor for Mazda in deciding if it will return in 2014.

“We've certainly got the opportunity to return next year if we want to,” said Doak. “We'll go away and look at how it all works. We put a huge amount of strain on our technical team to look after the cars - we did it all in-house.

“We'll have a debrief and make a decision from there,” he said.

Damage to the turbo-diesel Mazda6 automatics ranged from minor cosmetic damage -- bumps and scrapes -- to smashed headlights, bent doors, dented quarter panels, wrecked wheels, damaged suspension and a couple of destroyed front-ends.

The worst offenders were former Neighbours actor Scott McGregor, Network Ten news anchor Hamish MacDonald, actor Jared Daperis, fashion designer Wayne Cooper and celebrity chef Shane Delia.

Some celebs were concerned with the wild driving styles of their fellow competitors. Overall winner Hodge said lead trainer and five-times V8 Supercar champion Mark Skaife was a good teacher, “but I think a few other guys forgot what's been taught...”

Holly Candy (formerly Holly Valance) had a different opinion.

“Everyone wants us to smash. I said to people who crashed ‘dude, this is good TV’. If I was the producer of this I’d say the more smashes the better.”

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