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Mazda goes Prototype racing – again

November 17, 2013

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The news that Mazda is bringing its SKYACTIV-D diesel technology to the Tudor United Sports Car Challenge (TUSCC) in 2014 is good for the fledgling series.

The 2013 Grand-Am GX-class champions – in a Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D sedan –  were first to enter American sports car racing with a diesel-powered production based race car. The learning curve was steep for entrant SpeedSource Engineering, which was unable to complete its first race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with a three-car squad. There were teething pains, but they were efficiently overcome by Sylvain Tremblay and his South Florida-based crew, which went on to multiple race wins throughout the season.

For next year’s unified 12-race TUSCC series, two Mazda SKYACTIV diesel-powered Lola prototype coupes intend to challenge the gasoline-propelled Daytona Prototype, DeltaWing coupes and other LM P2 entries, with SpeedSource providing the engineering power behind the team.

At the same time, Mazda is also offering potential customers the opportunity to help develop a Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D GT Daytona race car, now that SpeedSource is moving up the racing ladder with the manufacturer.

The folks at Mazda Motorsports have a mantra of “Never Stop Challenging”. As such, Mazda will be the sole OEM racing with a diesel engine in TUSCC competition. The SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel race engine is production-based and a carry-over (shouldn’t it be a carry on?) from the development work done with the Mazda6 GX-class cars. As such, the engine is 51 percent stock by parts content count and 63 percent stock by its weight. Mazda said it chose this path “as it is the most honest way to demonstrate the performance, quality, durability and reliability of Mazda powerplants,” particularly its diesel offerings.

Still the sole Japanese manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall – in 1991 – Mazda makes a return to global competition with this program. “Thanks to our SKYACTIV-D Mazda6 winning nine of 12 Grand-Am GX races and the GX Manufacturers Championship this year, we’re confident our two prototype cars will challenge the best North America has to offer,” declared John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports.

Mazda will conduct its testing in private prior to the Roar before the Rolex 24 in early January. The SpeedSource team will also take its time to announce drivers for the two-car squad.

It will be interesting to see how IMSA, sanctioning body for the TUSCC will contend with the SKYACTIV-D Mazda/Lola P2 diesel entries, as other forms of sports car racing worldwide have yet to devise an equivalency formula for diesel and gasoline powerplants in Prototype competition.

Balance of Performance testing for next year’s competition is currently taking place at Sebring and Daytona, home of the two longest races on the 12-contest TUSCC schedule.

By Anne Proffit

photo courtesy Mazda Motorsports

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