MX-5 sets four lap records… on fossil-free fuel

A thousand miles, four famous circuits, and a whole lotta hope

By Matt Bird / Tuesday, 6 December 2022 / Loading comments

Driving an MX-5 a thousand miles and around four race tracks – Knockhill, Anglesey, Oulton Park and Kirkistown – sounds like wonderful way to spend a week for any PHer. Mazda UK (clearly endowed with unspent marketing budget) has just undertaken the trip itself, with one crucial difference: the MX-5 was running on fossil-free sustainable petrol.

This completely standard 2.0-litre MX-5 Roadster was powered by Coryton’s Sustain fuel, which is created from 100 per cent agricultural waste, hence Mazda can claim benchmark lap times for a car using sustainable fuel (canny old dogs). No modifications were required, and the little Mazda is said to have averaged 45mpg when not hooning around racetracks. The firm reckons the trip was about ‘highlighting the role sustainable fuels can play in de-carbonising both road cars and motorsport, the drive also highlights how sustainable fuels could complement Mazda’s Multi-Solution approach to achieving climate neutrality.’ Which, of course, is the song we’re hearing on repeat from wily Japanese manufacturers. 

That motorsport mention is important, too. Mazda is already competing in Japanese Super Taikyu with a biodiesel powered 2, and a more powerful 3 is coming, too. For this circuit drive, Mazda involved Motorsport UK ‘to recognise and support the completion of laps on a circuit in each of the UK nations.’ While there are series out there like Porsche Supercup already using synthetic fuel, it would be great to see grassroots motorsport find a more sustainable alternative as well. Just think how many MX-5s are out there racing…

Motorsport UK’s CEO Hugh Chambers said of the drive: “Sustainable fuels, such as biofuels, efuels and synthetic fuels provide a low-carbon alternative to conventional hydrocarbon fuels, ensuring the lifespan of these vehicles is maximised with minimum impact. It’s fantastic to see Coryton Fuels join forces with Mazda to demonstrate that it’s possible for everyday road cars to not only be driven on a motorsport circuit powered by 100% sustainable fuels, but do so with no loss of performance or reliability.”

Which all sounds – dare it be said – quite encouraging, even taking into account the oft-mentioned shortcomings of e-fuels. Mazda’s Multi-Solution approach to carbon neutrality now includes Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, mild hybrids, PHEVs, Skyactiv electric vehicles, the big straight-six petrol and diesels coming to the CX-60 next year, and now steps towards fossil fuel-free fuel as well. Mazda is also keen to point out it was the first OEM to join the eFuel Alliance. Needless to say, to us this sort of approach sounds far more interesting than simply a glut of electric SUVs. 

Obviously the availability of fuel without fossils in it is still over the horizon – and heaven knows how much it’ll cost – but we’re happy to cling to Mazda’s optimism. UK MD Jeremy Thomson noted: “This is a brilliant demonstration of how sustainable fuels can play a part in reducing automotive CO2 emissions if they became widely available. In line with Mazda’s position on renewable efuels, I’m delighted that with this activity here in the UK we have helped to increase discussion and awareness on the part sustainable fuels can play alongside electrification in reducing emissions from vehicles.” Amen to that.

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