Mazda to race Mazda6 in Grand-Am GX class with SKYACTIV-D engine
Mazda initially showed its SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June. (Anne Proffit photo)
SpeedSource driver Jonathan Bomarito had the appropriate remark about Mazda’s Grand-Am Rolex Series entry in the series’ new GX class. “We’re going from having the car with the least amount of torque and the most noise (RX-8) to one that’s got tons of torque and is really quiet.”
We’ll all have to wait and see how the Mazda6 racer works once it emerges from Sylvain Tremblay’s Fort Lauderdale, FL workshops. Mazda North American Operations confirmed the SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine will propel the Speedsource team’s Mazda6 at the 51st Rolex 24 at Daytona, scheduled for January 26-27 at Daytona International Raceway, revealing these details during the late November Los Angeles Auto Show.
This entry marks the first time a diesel-powered race car will ever race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, unlike the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the winning cars have been diesel-propelled for nearly a decade. As it announced this program, Mazda NAO also revealed it will push for more diesel-powered entries in the American retail marketplace, with the intent of bringing in a significant number of diesel-powered cars.
Mazda initially announced the build of its SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine during the 2012 Le Mans race. It intends to place the power plant in this Grand-Am Mazda6 race car and also in LM P2 prototype action, most likely with partner Dempsey Racing, who have been active in both Grand-Am GT competition with an RX-8 and in the American Le Mans Series P2 category this season.
Mazda has had this Mazda6 racer in the works for months but, as John Doonan, Motorsports Director noted, “We had to wait until the production car was revealed. The SpeedSource engineering team, working with Mazda engineers have been flat out for months on engine development. We’re happy to report the engine is meeting the performance targets for both power and endurance,” he said.
Doonan expects more than 400 horsepower for the Mazda SKYACTIV-D diesel race engine at over 50 hours service life. “This engine include a very long list of production Mazda parts. This is not a pure race engine; it is a production block SKYACTIV-D. We’re excited about having our newest engine powering our newest car,” Doonan said. For the LM P2 class, a production-based engine is mandatory, as it is in Grand-Am’s GX category.
Some vehicles the Mazda6 will be competing against include these eligible production based cars: Lotus Evora GX, Porsche’s new Cayman, Audi TT, BMW 1 Series, Chevy Cruze, the four-door Ford Focus, Hyundai Genesis (we’ll assume that’s the coupe, not sedan), the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S twins, Nissan 370Z and Altima, along with Volkswagen’s EOS.
Grand-Am’s objective in starting this new class is to pique interest among younger race fans who can see cars they might purchase at retail competing against one another on the racetrack. The GX class is a good outlet for OE manufacturers to market youth-oriented cars.
By Anne Proffit