Mazda Rotary Power Returns To Top-Level Sports-Car Racing SEBRING, Fla. -- Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development today announced that Mazda will return to the top level of professional sports car racing as...
Mazda Rotary Power Returns To Top-Level Sports-Car Racing
SEBRING, Fla. -- Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) and MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development today announced that Mazda will return to the top level of professional sports car racing as an engine supplier in the LMP-2 class of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). The company will provide engineering and technical assistance to BK Motorsports, overseeing the development and deployment of a RENESIS-based three-rotor rotary racing engine. It is hoped that BK Motorsports' success will lead other teams to choose the RENESIS rotary race engine.
Unlike in the past when Mazda's greatest racing success -- victory at the 1991 running of the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans -- was from a full factory-supported program, BK Motorsports is a privately funded and run team with monetary support from Sportsbook.com. Mazda has provided extensive engineering support to the team to ensure the success of the engine. In addition, technical assistance and engine construction and tuning will be undertaken by SpeedSource Race Engineering, which also runs a championship-winning Grand Am Street Touring program with the RENESIS rotary-powered RX-8.
"There's nothing like the sound of a full-race Mazda rotary engine at 9,000 rpm, and anyone who's heard one is not likely to forget its distinctive tone," said Steve Sanders, Manager, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development for MNAO. "As one of the original funding and marketing partners in the ALMS series, and one of the most successful sportscar engine and chassis manufacturers of all time, it's an absolute thrill for Mazda to be back in top-flight sportscar racing in North America."
In order to ensure success, Mazda turned to many of the most well-known and respected names in the rotary performance business for advice, including Jim Mederer (owner of Racing Beat, an accessory and performance shop), Jim Downing (multiple title-winner in Mazda-powered IMSA RS, GTU and Camel GTP-Light cars), Dennis Spencer (who ran a very successful Camel GTP-Light program in the IMSA series), Roger Mandeville (1983 IMSA GTU and 1984 GTO champion, all in RX-7-based cars), and Sylvain Tremblay and David Haskell (of SpeedSource Inc., a successful race engineering and development company). It was only with the assistance of these experts in the "black art" of racing rotary engine preparation that the company decided it was ready to return to the deep end of top level racing.
The engine is based on the RENESIS rotary engine as supplied in Mazda's flagship sportscar, the RX-8. It is designated 20B, a three-rotor design incorporating electronic fuel injection with a full data-gathering system. And, like its street-going two-rotor sibling in the RX-8, the engine revs to over 9,000rpm -- this being one of the hallmarks of the rotary engine. While still undergoing final tuning, Mazda and SpeedSource are targeting output in excess of 400 hp, making it competitive with other engines in the class.
The engine was chosen for its light weight, compact size and ease of packaging. In turn, BK Motorsports has chosen the small, nimble Courage C65 chassis because it is able to accommodate a number of different powerplants, not the least of which is the unique Mazda rotary.
BK Motorsports and the RENESIS rotary engine will make their official race debuts at the Sportsbook.com Grand Prix of Atlanta, at the famed Road Atlanta track, April 15-17, 2005. After that, the team intends to compete for the complete ALMS season.
On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. Mazda's motorsport involvement even extends to the nation's premier road-racing circuit, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.