Updated: Sep 18, 2021
We recently had the 2Racing DJ independently reviewed by fellow racer & sprint driver and friend. Here is what she said.
Mazda 2 DJ sprint car review for 2 Racing August 2021
Steve kindly asked me to review his Mazda 2 Sprint car which he is currently races in the Javelin Sprint Series. His friend and co-owner of Mazda 2 Racing, Neal competes in the Mazda Motorsport Club Series in the earlier Mazda 2 DE model.
As this car is a road legal sprint car, it has been lightly modified whilst still being road legal and perfectly usable as a daily car. I do like this kind of thinking as I apply the same logic to my own daily driver a GR Yaris that I also compete in the same series as Steve in.
Steve has told me that the DJ model Mazda 2 uses the same 1.5 Sky Activ engine as the MX5 ND 1.5 though in a lower state of tune. He has managed with the help of mapping an induction kit and 2 Racing exhaust to get the power up from a paltry 88bhp to 136bhp, which is a huge increase. The thinking behind this car is that it will form the basis for a race car for competitors in the Mazda Motorsport Club Series and you will be able to buy all you need from 2 Racing to add to a pre-bought car ready to compete. Steve told me that the idea is to aim a relatively cheap car to maintain and run with a race ready kit, to enable budding race drivers a car to compete in at a reasonable price, which Neal Shore is competing in with is Mazda 2 DE series with all the kit you require to do so from 2 Racing.
This sounds good as I remember from my racing days, keeping the price down once I was out of a sponsored drive (ironically with Mazda UK) was absolutely key as it soon all adds up.
I was interested to hear, why a Mazda 2? Steve explained that MX5s are becoming increasingly expensive to run and maintain, particularly so in MK1 guise and the cost to adequately prepare them has also increased. The Mazda 2 is far cheaper in comparison, uses a more modern engine and also helps those ever younger drivers not familiar with the intricacies of rear wheel drive, able to compete in a good car to start their racing career.
The test I did involved my usual route of the A534 through Macclesfield, then up the A54 at Boseley of which is a very challenging road, then down the ubiquitous A537 Cat and Fiddle. It turned out that the Cat & Fiddle road was in the midst of being resurfaced which certainly made it interesting and thankfully very quiet for a Saturday lunchtime.
Steve has changed the standard seats in his car for some Bride replicas which use an FN2 base cushion. The seats hold you in very well and the driving position is good, not sitting you too high. Heel and toeing is relatively easy too. With a kerb weight of 1050kg making it a light car by todays standards even in five door form.
Setting off the speedometer is easy to read, though there is a rev counter to the left which is an LCD display which I did find a little difficult to read wearing polarised sunglasses. The gearing is very much economy minded with a very long third, but quite a gap between second and third. This was not too difficult to overcome, though I discussed with Steve the potential for shorter and closer ratios, but I have to remind myself this is a five speed and I’m very much used to six speeds in my car which obviously enable closer stacking of the gears. The car sounded well with it’s aftermarket exhaust (name) and it is an easy car to drive.
As we ran up the climb of the A54 I was able to work the car well. Steering feel is light and not overly brimming with feel though the 205, 55 section tyres do allow some sidewall flex. A lower profile may help this somewhat as I could feel the tyre rolling over their sidewalls. Steering feel does improve with more load which is positive and the car feels light and easy to move around on what is a narrow and challenging road.
As was always the case, being used to a 300bhp homologation special has it’s downsides when driving a far less powerful car. The engine feels strong enough in the Mazda 2 though, the gearing does mean that third gear is all you’ll ever need. Soon I was pushing the car into the bends of my well trodden review route, with a long press to disable the traction and stability control. I always maintain that trail braking on public roads takes commitment and I admit, I would prefer to try this on a track where you have more room to play. Try as I might, the rear of the car stays true and does not rotate. Steve has put Black Diamond discs all round and the brakes remain very reassuring indeed with really good bite and feel.
On the downhill and newly surfaced Cat and Fiddle road, the brakes came into their own, easily coping with what had been asked of them. As ever, I tried hard into the hairpins to see if I could get the rear to be a bit more mobile, though it was resolute. This makes it a very safe handling car and it will tend to revert to understeer if you take it in too fast. What did become very apparent was how well roll was controlled. This car is on standard dampers with H&R lowering springs and a bigger rear anti roll bar.
I do wonder if I could get the rear of the car to be a little more mobile with some changes to rear spring rates. Though perhaps for a new driver it is positive that the car is pretty well unflappable, encouraging sensible entry speeds and smoothness in throttle application.
Overall this makes a good starting car if you want to get into racing and want to focus more on race craft than trying to keep the car on the road.
For the budding racers out there, here’s all you need to start your racing career. Thank you to Steve for loaning me his car. :)