Mazda’s diesel-powered Prototype is blazing new tech trails – and aiming for outright victories.
TAKING SKYACTIV TO THE NEXT LEVEL
major decision weighed on the mind of
Mazda Motorsports boss John Doonan
during the 2012 Grand-Am Rolex Series
season. The marque’s championship-winning RX- 8 was a perennial challenger in
the hotly contested Rolex GT category, but
it was running out of time. The end of the
line had come for the production version of
the RX- 8, making the silhouette GT RX- 8 a
marketing exercise that had run its course.
Without a comparable model in its
current lineup to market, choosing a
direction to go forward – one that would
allow the brand to renew its identity in
sports car racing – came in the form of
clean-diesel technology under its SKYACTIV
banner. The next-gen solution was the
Mazda6, a 2.2-liter, bi-turbodiesel silhouette
built to Rolex GX rules on the same
Aaxed from the new-for-2014, IMSA-sanctioned TUDOR United SportsCar
Championship four-class roster.
Mazda and its partner, Florida’s
SpeedSource Race Engineering, weren’t
ready to see their diesel knowledge
extinguished. With tubeframe cars outlawed
in the TUDOR Championship’s GT classes,
creative thinking was required to advance
the SKYACTIV program. The step chosen –
a switch to the Prototype class – paid
respect to Mazda’s Le Mans-winning past
while blazing new trails with a P2 coupe.
“Our SKYACTIV-based program is
really a five-year journey,” says Doonan.
“We believe the opportunity to showcase
direct road car technology is a great
marketing and communications tool, and
in Prototype, we can race for overall
tubeframe chassis platform as the RX- 8.
Other than the four-door body shell,
biggest change was the retirement of
Mazda’s wailing, triple-rotor Renesis engine.
Then, just a year later, with the
announced merger of Grand-Am and the
American Le Mans Series, Mazda had
another decision to make when GX was