Saturday 18 January 2014

Mazda's 2014 United SportsCar Prototype

Following a successful 2013 campaign in which Mazda won the Grand-Am GX class manufacturer's championship, our favourite Japanese car maker is moving up a gear for 2014. Mazda has just announced they will be competing in the newly-formed United SportsCar Championship (USCC) based in the USA and Canada.

This 12 round championship was created following the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the Rolex Sports Car Series, it is organised by the International Motorsports Association (IMSA) and due to start with the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on January 25th 2014.

Mazda will be backing the SpeedSource racing team who will be competing with two USCC Protoype class cars using a Lola chassis and powered by a 450Bhp twin-turbo 2.2 litre SkyActiv-D diesel engine. The car is assembled by Multimatic, a Canadian motorsport company who took over Lola, though apparently there are plans to homologate the car as a Mazda rather than a Lola. There's no sign of a livery yet, the car has been testing wearing just its bare carbon fibre bodywork, maybe they should just leave it like this?
Mazda says:


Mazda Bringing Game-Changing SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel Technology to TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for 2014

Mazda Motorsports Announces Return to Elite Racing Prototype Program

Nov 14, 2013

At Mazda, "Never Stop Challenging" isn't just a catchphrase, it's a company maxim. After nearly two years of planning, Mazda Motorsports will field a pair of factory-backed SKYACTIV-D Smart Diesel-powered racecars in the top Prototype Class for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (USCC), beginning with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 25-26, 2014. This is a major step up for Mazda, having won the 2013 Grand-Am GX Manufacturers Championship. Mazda will be challenging for overall race wins against the toughest sports car competitors in North America.

"This is the most significant step Mazda has taken towards returning to the global racing stage since our overall victory at Le Mans in 1991," said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports. "And thanks to our SKYACTIV-D Mazda6 racecars winning nine of 12 Rolex GRAND-AM GX races and the GRAND-AM GX Manufacturers Championship this year, we're confident that our two prototype cars will challenge the best North America has to offer."

Long-time racing partner SpeedSource Race Engineering, the team that oversaw Mazda's GX-class championship in 2013, will carry responsibility to develop and run the cars on track. Additionally, Mazda also is in discussions with customer teams interested in the prototype class, as well as teams interested in developing the championship winning Mazda6 into a GT Daytona class car.

Sylvain Tremblay, Owner, SpeedSource Engineering noted; "As a racer, you always want to be in the fastest class. The development of the Mazda SKYACTIV-D was a great deal of work by Mazda and SpeedSource and it will be quite the task to take this to the front of the prototype class in only our second year of competition. Mazda and SpeedSource will have a busy November and December of testing as we prepare for Daytona."

As part of its challenger frame of mind, Mazda is the only OEM racing with a diesel engine. The SKYACTIV-D Smart 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.

Driver line-ups and team partners will be announced at a later date. The cars will make their first public appearance at the "Roar Before the 24" test at Daytona, January 3-5, 2014.

UPDATE - The cars have been spotted wearing this smart dark red livery covered in SkyActiv branding.