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Special Motorsports Event - Celebrities on track for the Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge at the 2013 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

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MELBOURNE – Oct 10, 2012: Australia’s greatest ever Paralympian, Matthew Cowdrey OAM, and London Olympics Golden Girl, Anna Meares OAM will line up on the grid against Britain’s greatest ever Olympian Sir Chris Hoy MBE in the Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge at the 2013 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

Meares, Cowdrey and Hoy will be driving the All-New Mazda6 marking the first time that clean diesel technology has been used in the Celebrity Challenge.

Unveiled at a special sports star themed launch event at Albert Park today, the three athletes are the first of a series of celebrity announcements with another 17 to be announced in the lead up to the race on the 14-17 March, 2013.

In what is a major international coup for the Australian Grand Prix, avid Formula 1 fan Sir Chris Hoy will battle out in a pre-Ashes showdown against the ultra-competitive Meares and Cowdrey as they take part in the three-day race event at the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit.

"As a massive Formula 1 fan this is an incredible opportunity and I can’t wait to come down to Melbourne in March next year and race on the Albert Park circuit in the Celebrity Grand Prix,” said Hoy.

“Anna and Matt are both incredible athletes so it's going to be a tough competition, but I'm sure it will be great fun. It's been a long term goal of mine to race in this event in Melbourne, and I'm looking forward to a fantastic week down under!"

Meares said that while she had been involved in fierce track rivalries with the Brits before, it’s always been a dream of hers to go head-to-head against Sir Chris.

“I’ve always dreamt of being involved in car racing. Much like cycling, it is such a technical and mentally draining sport and I have the greatest respect for Formula 1 drivers,” said Meares. “It’s also not very often that I get a chance to race against Sir Chris for bragging rights.”

The Australian duo announced today were both stand-out performers at the recent Games in London, with Cowdrey earning the mantle of this country’s most successful ever Paralympian.

Cowdrey will again make headlines when he lines up in March, becoming the first ever Paralympian to participate in the showcase event.

“It’s a great honour to take part in a race like this. I’m a very competitive swimmer, and don’t like losing, so expect nothing less when I’m out there on the Circuit.”

The Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge at the 2013 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix will be a core part of the launch activities for the All-New Mazda6, the Japanese manufacturer’s soon-to-be-released family car.

The All-New Mazda6 features the ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design theme and SKYACTIV Technology featuring ‘i-ELOOP’ a unique capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system which will be standard across the entire All-New Mazda6 range.

Mazda Australia national marketing manager, Alastair Doak said “All-New Mazda6 is a car which has the potential to re-energize the family car segment here in Australia and the Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge is an important part of our launch strategy.

“New technology such as i-ELOOP is just one the many reasons that we feel we’re on to a winner. All-New Mazda6 is the first car to feature i-ELOOP which is the next step in the rollout of our innovative SKYACTIV Technologies designed to improve fuel efficiency and to enhance the joy of driving.”

The Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge will feature 20 vehicles and will bring together celebrities from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines to compete at Melbourne’s spectacular Albert Park street circuit during the 2013 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.