The last Japanese manufacturer to win at Le Mans outright, Mazda has been gradually working its way back up the endurance racing ladder once again, following the example set by Audi with diesel power. Last year it campaigned a competition-spec Mazda6 Skyactiv-D in the GX class of the Grand-Am series, but rather than simply port over the existing racer into the new series, it's fielding a new prototype instead, just as it promised a couple of months ago. And now that prototype has hit the track for the first time, prompting Mazda to release its basic specs for the first time.
Tentatively referred to simply as the 2014 Mazda Prototype, the purpose-built racecar is testing this weekend in the Roar Before the 24, the official test session at Daytona that kicks off the racing season. It packs a 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D engine that's based heavily on the production version but tuned to produce 450 horsepower and 580 pound-feet of torque in race trim. Power is channeled through a six-speed sequential transmission from Xtrac, carbon brakes from AP and 18-inch racing slicks from Continental. With the Daytona-spec aero setup, it'll top out at around 186 miles per hour.
Oddly, despite outlining a number of very specific parameters in the press release below, Mazda didn't specify how many cylinders the engine packs or who made the carbon monocoque chassis, but it doesn't take much to deduce the cylinder count as four and the chassis as a Lola-built LMP2. Either way, a pair of these prototypes will be dicing it with a variety of other Le Mans and Daytona prototypes at the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month and throughout the inaugural United SportsCar Championship this season. Mazda has already announced it's keeping the same four drivers in place it employed for the GX entry last season, with two more to be announced shortly.
January 4, 2014 (DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) - Mazda has long believed in promoting from within, including filling those rare 'factory team' driver slots. Mazda Motorsports will field a pair of factory-backed SKYACTIV Technology-powered prototypes in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Behind the wheel will be the four drivers who delivered nine race wins and the 2013 Grand-Am GX Manufacturers Championship for Mazda. Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long will share the #70 car while Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez will co-pilot the #07. The team took their first public laps at the annual pre-season "Roar Before the 24" test at Daytona International Speedway yesterday. The test concludes tomorrow with the season opening Rolex 24 Hour race on January 25-26.
"There is no shortage of great racing talent in America", noted John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations. "The decision for this year was relatively simple though as our 2013 line-up excelled both on and off the track. Sylvain, Tom, Joel, and Tristan are all talented behind the wheel, but just as importantly, they act as a true team, supporting everyone at Mazda and SpeedSource. Our objective is to demonstrate Mazda SKYACTIV Technology to both hardcore racing fans and the mainstream public. With so many changes in 2014, including the new series itself, there will be a steep learning curve for everyone and we needed the best students in the sport. We'll announce our third drivers for the Rolex 24 at a later date, but rest assured they all fit the same mold of being team thinkers and both will have Mazda heritage in their blood."
As part of its challenger frame of mind, Mazda is the only car company racing in the TUDOR Championship with a diesel engine. The SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel race engine is a true production-based engine and a carry-over from the development work done with the Mazda6 GX-class racing cars. The engine is 51 percent stock by parts count, and 63 percent stock by weight. Mazda chose this path as it is the most honest way to demonstrate the performance, quality, durability and reliability of Mazda powerplants.
2014 Mazda Prototype Specifications
Engine Displacement: 2,191 cc (133.7 in3)
Bore x Stroke: 86.0 mm x 94.3 mm (3.39 in x 3.71 in)
Engine Weight: 143 kg (315 lbs)
Horsepower: 336 kW (450 bhp)
Torque: 786 Nm (580 lb-ft)
Max. Engine Speed: 5,200 rpm
Engine Block: Production Mazda SKYACTIV (Aluminum)
Camshaft: Dual Overhead
Valves: Four Valves Per Cylinder
Cylinder Head: Production Mazda SKYACTIV (Aluminum)
Valve Train Components: Production Mazda SKYACTIV
Pistons: Mahle (Steel)
Connecting Rods: Carillo Forged Alloy (Steel)
Crankshaft: Pankl Alloy (Steel)
ECU: Bosch Motorsport MS 15.2
Intake Manifold: SpeedSource Race Engineering
Exhaust Manifold: SpeedSource Race Engineering
Turbo and Wastegate: Garrett Motorsports, air-to-air Intercooler, Tial wastegate
Fuel Injectors and Pump: Bosch Motorsport
Fuel Rail: Bosch Motorsport
Oiling System: SpeedSource Race Engineering
Cooling System: SpeedSource Race Engineering
Transmission: Xtrac 6-speed sequential with paddle shifters
Chassis: Carbon-fiber monocoque coupe
Weight: 900 kgs (1984 lbs) – Without driver or fuel
Length: 4,634 mm (182.4 in)
Width: 1,990 mm (78.3 in)
Wheelbase: 2,890 mm (113.8 in)
Top speed: Approximately 300 kph (186 mph) -- in Daytona aero trim
Brakes: AP carbon drilled discs
Suspension: Independent double A-arms
Tires: Continental Extreme Contact
Wheels: Motegi EVO 14 Technomesh, Forged Aluminum
Fuel: Dynamic Fuels Renewable Diesel
Fuel Capacity: 73 liters (19.3 gallons)
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports, and MAZDASPEED
Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America among both club racers and professionals. Thousands of Mazda-powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world's largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda Motorsports established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda's success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Mazda Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com, with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazda Motorsport), Twitter (@mazdaracing), and www.mazdamotorsports.com