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When Mazda won in the west

Can you believe Mazda won an Australian Touring Car Championship? Well back in the early 1980s it did with the might of Allan Moffat behind it, but through a previously untried strategy at Wanneroo Raceway, the RX-7 defeated its more powerful rivals.

For Moffat, it was his fourth and final title as the former Ford hero won the first touring car championship for a Japanese marque, but in a points structure suited to class entries George Fury pushed hard in his Nissan Bluebird to be a contender.

Fury’s title tilt ended when the Nissan team failed to enter the final round enabling Moffat to secure the championship, but it involved a smart strategy from the Mazda team at Wanneroo Raceway where he secured at Round 4 against the much fancied V8 machinery.

The up hill run at the Western Australian circuit favoured the big V8s, but the Mazda team led by Allan Horsley devised a smart strategy involving a pit stop to overcome the power deficit of the RX-7.

Pit stops weren’t common unless you had a problem back during this era except for endurance racing, but in Formula 1 it was and continues to be the standard.

The plan was to half fill the RX-7 for the start to enable it to keep pace with the Commodores and Falcons. Inspired by Formula 1, the Mazda team completed a swift pit stop halfway through the race to fill Moffat up and it proved to be genius.

He won after chief rival Peter Brock spun the Holden Dealer Team Commodore out of the lead and fended off the advances of Fury to take a remarkable win.

Further victories at Surfers Paradise International Raceway and Oran Park ensured the title headed to Japan as it appeared ominous Mazda was set for a maiden Bathurst win as CAMS allowed the larger 13B engine.

However, it was nearly a decade until the Japanese tasted victory at the Mountain….