• Jan 11, 2007
That thing got a rotary in it? Nope, not this year. Dashing the hopes of Rotorheads everywhere, Mazda announced that it will be using an AER built conventional engine in its 2007 ALMS cars. Looks like pride and heritage will take a back seat to winning. As MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Manager Steve Sanders explained, the rules just make it too difficult for a rotary to be competitive right now. But this new AER-developed 2.0-liter 4 promises to offer a lot in the way of Zoom-Zoom.

More info and full press release after the jump.

[Source: Mazda]

It is a new design that will feature a version of Mazda's production-car Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) system that, along with turbocharging and a few other tricks, should help this engine produce a reliable 500 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The new engine is dubbed the MZR-R and will debut at Sebring for the 12 Hours.

B-K Motorsports will be the only team using this new engine in 2007, but future plans call for it to show up elsewhere. For the '07 season, the MZR-R will be fitted inside an all-new Lola B07/40 that B-K has purchased to replace last season's Courage C65 in LMP2. Should be an exciting season with the returning Porsches RS Spyders (Penske and Dyson), the Radical SR9 and the new Acuras mixing things up with Mazda in P2.


Press Release:

All New MZR-R Engine

MAZDASPEED engineers in the U.S. and Japan, in conjunction with U.K. based Advanced Engine Research Ltd (AER), will debut an all-new MZR-R prototype engine at the 2007 12 Hours of Sebring. The new engine, a clean sheet design, is a turbocharged 2.0 liter in-line four cylinder. The performance goals for the engine are 500hp and 400 lb-ft, with the durability to succeed in such grueling races as the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 10-hour Petit Le Mans. The engineering team is working to incorporate the production-based Mazda Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) system into the race motor. The technical collaboration between Mazda and AER has been non-stop in preparation for the season- opener at Sebring.


MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Manager Steve Sanders stated, "Given the rules package, we needed to make a radical change to be able to match the competition. The current conditions and rules simply do not allow our rotary engine to have any competitive advantage, hence the move to piston power this season."


Sanders continued, "The Mazda and AER engineers are working closely with Honeywell Turbo Technologies on the development of a new Garrett motorsports turbocharger design for this engine program. The overall LMP2 program is driven by Mazda engineering, as we use motorsports to help develop future advanced technologies with the potential to transfer over to our production vehicles."


Mazda remains firmly committed to the rotary engine, in the street-going RX-8 four-door sportscar and racing classes like Grand Am GT and the one-make professional Star Mazda formula car series.


While the new engine will be exclusive to B-K Motorsports in 2007, the long-term goal is to add teams in both the American Le Mans Series as well as the Le Mans Endurance Series in Europe in 2008.


All New Chassis from Lola

B-K Motorsports will replace their existing Courage C65 with an-all new Lola B07/40. The team will complete the car in February just prior to Sebring. "The partnership between Mazda, Lola, AER, Honeywell/Garrett, Kumho Tires, and many other suppliers on this project has been excellent," said Marcus Haselgrove, B-K Motorsports Team Manager. "Jointly developing race and road car technology with the MZR-R is what sportscar racing is about. We hope to be competitive from round one, but the P2 competition will be the toughest in ALMS history."


2007 Driver line-up to feature Star Mazda Alumni

B-K Motorsports will field an international driver line-up with American Jamie Bach and Englishman Ben Devlin running the entire season. Brazilian Raphael Matos will join the team for Sebring as well as the Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta.


Bach will return for his third season with B-K Motorsports. He was the 2005 Co-Rookie of the Year in P2, winning one race. In 2006, Bach scored one podium finish as he helped the team to third place in the team championship. He is a graduate of the Star Mazda series and of the Skip Barber Racing School.


Devlin, from the UK, has extensive experience in chassis development. He has been running in the LMP2 (P675) category since 2001, notching up two race wins in 2002. He made his American racing debut in a Formula Mazda race.


Matos, a past champion in both the Skip Barber Racing Series (2003) and the Star Mazda Series, will be spending the bulk of his 2007 season chasing the Cooper Tires Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, but will join the B-K team in the two endurance races (Sebring and Petit Le Mans).


The team expects to announce a new primary sponsor prior to the Sebring race, but is pleased that Road & Track will be returning as an associate sponsor. Additional support is coming from ASG, Sparco, and Sirius Satellite Radio.


The 12 race 2007 American LeMans Series will kick-off with the 55 th annual 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17 th, and conclude with the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 20 th.


On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, you'll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the fastest growing road-racing class in the U.S. is the SCCA's Spec Miata class, with nearly 1,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazda's involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world's premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.


Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 10 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      "This honestly just looks like Mazda took the now abandoned Lola/AER (formerly MG/Lola) that Dyson racing ran for the last couple years (with the Thetford/Norcold livery) and made it their own. This racing effort will be much cheaper, given that they are basically taking over the parts from an existing program. It also may be more successful, given that the Lola/AER has been at times competitve for the overall win (although that is impossible right now with the regs favoring Diesels so heavily)"

      The car you're referring to is the Lola B01/60 or MG Lola EX257. This chassis is all but retired except for the one that is going to be run by Autocon this season. The 2 ex Dyson Lola's were run by Autocon and Highcroft last year, the latter having taken on the Acura project with the Courage LC75. Mazda have purchased a brand new Lola B07/40 LMP2 chassis. This is also a brand new engine, not a rebadge. Check your facts before you post..
      • 8 Years Ago
      Not and AER rebadge

      This is an email from Mike Lancaster of AER sent to Mulsannemike of Mulsanne's Corner:

      "The MZR-R is totally new. It uses no parts from the P07 engine at all. The new engine is very advanced and will be markedly lighter than before with better performance. The direct injection system is being developed jointly with Mazda as is many aspects of the engine (we will phase this development in according to Mazda schedules and our own testing program)."
      • 8 Years Ago
      The 787B did not win LeMans because it was fast.. in fact it was during qualyfing 14seconds slower as the Mercedes Sauber C11... The speed of the Mercedes Sauber C9 only a view years earlyer was the reason to add the shicanes in the long straight to reduce topspeed. Only the bad luck of Mercedes at the 24h LeMans race allowed the one and only japanese victory ever. The Mercedes C11 was leading the race till the 22th hour. Mercedes won all races at that seaon and only at the famous LeMans race it run into technical problems.
      BTW The FIA did not banned the Wankelengine, they set a new rule what engines are allowed to be used... the Mazda Wankel engine was not the only one who did it´s last race in 1991. The 1991 Mercedes C11 5.0l V8 turbo was banned too, like many other engines... stop blameing the FIA that they "killed" the Wankel engines at LeMans... they only tryed to reduce the speed for safety reasons. Beside that fact... it was known BEFOR the 1991 race that the FIA place new regulations for 1992. It was no surprise at all.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nagmashot while I see where you are coming from, you leave out some very important details. First of all the rotary was banned in '92 but they later changed the rules back to allow them again a couple of years later. It was reversed. Yes they did know that rule was coming. That's why they put their full effort into the rotary before it happened. Too bad that mentality is gone at Mazda. All rotaries were banned. Not just the 4 rotor. That's a pretty convincing argument that the ACO/ FIA whoever killed the rotary back then. They did! At least they changed their minds on it later. Sure there were some piston engines that were also affected. Did they ban all piston engines? No! You can justify it all you want that the rotary was just another engine on a list of non allowed engine back then but you are quite frankly dead wrong in your logic. They did kill the rotary from racing back then.

      True the Mercedes was leading for a long time in 91. The 787B was in 2nd right behind it and if you look at a time chart of the race to see what cars were in what place at what times, (I have this btw) you'd see that if everything stayed the same during the last 5 hours of the race, Mercedes would have finished 1st and Mazda still would have gotten 2nd. Don't try to make it sound like they weren't a ocntender. They were very much in it. 3 cars in the overall top 10 is pretty convincing and every Mazda that started (3 of them!) finished the race.

      A VERY important part of racing is finishing. Especially on an endurance race. In fact it's the most important part and always the first goal of entering a race. You can't win if you didn't finish. Mercedes didn't finish. Mazda did. That's racing. You can claim Mazda was handed a win as a result but you may as well claim the same about every other car that broke and fell out of the race. Mazda has always put it's faith on rotary reliability. It worked. Since they were in 2nd place behind the Mercedes, it's not like they were getting their butts handed to them. They weren't. The total package did it's job for the required amount of time. Mercedes didn't have the total package that year. How many of their cars started the race? How many finished? Go look that one up.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Folks, Mazda ran a rotary LMP2 car on and off for two years now in ALMS. Don't pretend it has been banned.

      WIth their own engine, that effort was presumably expensive and often the car didn't even work well enough to run.

      This honestly just looks like Mazda took the now abandoned Lola/AER (formerly MG/Lola) that Dyson racing ran for the last couple years (with the Thetford/Norcold livery) and made it their own. This racing effort will be much cheaper, given that they are basically taking over the parts from an existing program. It also may be more successful, given that the Lola/AER has been at times competitve for the overall win (although that is impossible right now with the regs favoring Diesels so heavily).

      As to rotaries "always winning on a level playing field", it's difficult to say what a level playing field is. It is possible to make the rules such that rotaries are favored. It is possible to make the rules such that pushrod engines are favored (Indy in the 90s), it is even possible to make the rules such that Diesel engines are favored.

      None of this indicates an overall superiority by any of the engine types, merely that each has best taken advantage of the rules at certain points in the past.

      I believe the Nissan R90C held the lap record for that particular configuration (long straight) of Le Mans. The engine in the car was also deemed too powerful (it was hitting 236mph on the straight) and was banned.
      • 8 Years Ago
      So many sanctioning bodies have made unfair rules that effectively ban the Wankel. FIA banned it outright after it dominated Le Mans in 1991. Scaredy-cat chicken-sh*ts.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yeah, I love driving the 787B on Gran Turismo 4. That sound is just unnerving! I turn it up until my fiancee is screaming and her ears are bleeding.
      • 8 Years Ago
      yeah after the 787B rotories were essentially banned from Le Mans

      Great car though... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/787B#Life_after_Le_Mans
      • 8 Years Ago
      Actually the rotary was only banned for a couple of years and then the ban was lifted. The biggest problem hasn't been the rotary engine. It's been the team as a whole. Let's look at some facts. Over 2 years of racing the rotary in ALMS they've battled overheating issues repeatedly. What was the cause of this? A cavitating water pump. That was it. They needed to redesign it and finally did. Granted it took them 2 full years to figure this out! They were down on power. They are running in essence a 25 year old engine. These aren't new parts. They are sourced from other old engines and rebuilt. If it's within spec that's fine. Why was is slow? They obviously weren't producing enough power from the naturally apirated 3 rotor engine. The rules allow them to run a forced inducted 3 rotor or even a naturally aspirated 4 rotor. They didn't even optimize what they had!!! They changed engine builders probably a half a dozen times over 2 years. They never stayed with any one builder long enough to have all the bugs worked out. When you switch to someone new, they start all over again at square one. BK themselves aren't capable of handling rotaries on their own.

      The rotary engine could easily be competitive. It's the people trying to run it that can't. A 4 cylinder AER engine is something that has been done before and proven to work. Sure Mazda is probably changing the head to be direct injected but that too has been done. This is an engine that BK can just get another one if this one dies. At least until they kill their relations with AER or whoever. That's been their biggest setback from the beginning. They've burned bridges and severed ties to the main rotary knowledgable people in the world since they thought their way was better. Specifically one highly influential member of the BK team.

      The flaw hasn't been in the engine. It's been in the team running it. Based on their track record with the way they've done things for a couple of years and with the new competition coming in, they've got a huge hill to climb. With the loss of Guy Cosmo, they are also losing ground. He was their best driver. The rotary never had a chance in their hands. Give it to someone competent and watch it shine.
      • 8 Years Ago
      ["FIA banned it outright after it dominated Le Mans in 1991"]

      Yeah, how dare an auto maker encourage technical progress. /sarcasm

      It's too bad; rotary engines are fantastic!