Piers Ward 23 August 2011

Top Gear at the Britcar championship

TG mag's Piers Ward lines up against Ferraris, Moslers and Exiges. In a stock MX-5. Ambitious...

Mazda MX-5 versus Ferrari 458 GT3. That's what happened at the Britcar Dunlop Production GTN race at Snetterton over the weekend, and Mazda invited Top Gear along to race the MX-5. This could go horribly wrong.

But it gets worse. Because the Mazda is virtually road standard - other than a cage, some larger front brakes and adjustable suspension, everything else is as you'd find on your road car. Even the gearbox and engine are identical, so that's 159bhp playing over 500bhp.

Gallery: Top Gear races a Mazda MX-5 at the Britcar GTN race

The Ferrari is a full race-prepared version of the rather glorious 458. You know, that recently-launched Ferrari with a less-than-paltry V8. The one that every journalist in the world has proclaimed the best Ferrari ever. And this one is the GT3 version, so even faster and even better, with more aero and slick tyres. And don't go thinking it's one Ferrari and a load of slower stuff joining us at the back - Moslers, Exiges, V8-powered BMW M3s and Ginettas fill out the rest of the grid.

To make matters even more desperate, Top Gear is sharing the Mazda with Mike Wilds, he of F1, Group C and Le Mans fame, who quickly demonstrates just how slow TG is by going four seconds quicker than our best time. But even Mike can only set a time which is six seconds off the next slowest car in the field, so the little Mazda starts the race at the back of the grid. To give some perspective, the Ferrari at the front is 30 seconds a lap quicker and at least 70mph faster down the straight...

Watch the clip below to see how we get on.

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