So long, diesel: Mazda confirms the move to a more powerful motor

Three-year diesel program was to support a passenger car engine that still hasn't arrived.

So long, diesel: Mazda confirms the move to a more powerful motor
#07 SpeedSource Mazda Prototype: Joel Miller, Tom Long
#07 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Joel Miller, Tom Long
#07 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Joel Miller, Tom Long
#07 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Joel Miller, Tom Long
#07 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Joel Miller, Tom Long
#70 SpeedSource Mazda Mazda: Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez
Tom Long
Joel Miller
Listen to this article

It was not the end to the three-year Mazda diesel engine program the manufacturer hoped for: A 30th and 31st-place finish in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

The program began with the one-and-done season in the Grand-Am GX program, then progressed into two years of racing the SKYACTIV diesel engine in the Prototype category, typically with two cars.

Early on in the Prototype program, it was apparent it would be a struggle to make the four-cylinder stock-block engine, designed to produce 155 horsepower, into a race engine that would approach 500 horsepower.

Now, with Mazda still having no diesel option for the Mazda 6 in the states, something promised since the program begun, coupled with low gasoline prices and the Volkswagen diesel debacle, this seems to be an excellent time to pull the plug. According to Bloomberg News, though, the diesel passenger car engine may still in play for the U.S., though hopelessly delayed. Forty-five percent of Mazdas are diesel-powered in Japan, the most of any automaker there.

While the race team had hoped to transition to a gasoline engine this season, reportedly Mazda in Japan balked, and that transition occurs at the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona. But this month, testing begins in earnest at Sebring International Raceway with 12-hour race simulations. In use will be the latest iteration of the Mazda MZR-R engine, similar to the one used in the Mazda-powered Dyson Racing Prototypes in the American Le Mans Series, but considerably updated.

Drivers bid farewell

For the drivers, it’s a little bittersweet. But not so bittersweet any of them are willing to relive the diesel days.

Said Joel Miller: “It’s really quite poetic to conclude this chapter here. We got the first win for that diesel engine here at Road Atlanta in 2013 in the GX class. The development over the past three years has come so far. Hats off to David Haskell (head of SpeedSource’s engine department), Zach Lagrone (team strategist/engineer) and everyone in the engine shop to get to the limit of what this engine was capable of doing.”

“My pro career started with the diesel, so it’s going to be kind of sad to see it go away,” said Tristan Nunez.

“This year has been an incredible growing year for the team,” added Tom Long. “We’ve turned it to completing a bunch of races in a row, picking up a lot of momentum for next year and the team chemistry is really there. It’s a really huge element carrying into next year. We’ll take that new engine that we’re testing, we’ll take our team personnel and put together every little nuance together for a really exciting season next year.”

shares
comments
Porsche confirms US return in 2016
Previous article

Porsche confirms US return in 2016

Next article

Sports car notebook: Disappointment, Don Panoz, DEKRA Challenge, 2016 SCCA Runoffs

Sports car notebook: Disappointment, Don Panoz, DEKRA Challenge, 2016 SCCA Runoffs
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Prime

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Prime

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, are arguably the greatest sportscars of all time.

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Prime

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The British pair at the heart of Lexus's sportscar push Prime

The British pair at the heart of Lexus's sportscar push

Have you heard the one about two British guys driving for a Japanese manufacturer in America’s top sportscar series? Time to sit down and talk with Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat about racing across the pond… and your accent being mistaken for Australian!

IMSA
Mar 16, 2022
Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022 Prime

Why Peugeot couldn't afford to take a Le Mans gamble in 2022

Ahead of the much-anticipated arrival of its new 9X8 Hypercar, Peugeot revealed that it would not be entering this year's Le Mans 24 Hours with its incoming machinery. Although development restrictions for homologated cars are partially responsible, the French marque can draw on its own lessons from its history in sportscars

WEC
Feb 28, 2022
Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC Prime

Why the GTP name undermines convergence between IMSA and WEC

OPINION: The adoption by IMSA of the GTP name for its forthcoming LMDh versus Le Mans Hypercar era in 2023 appeals to fans of nostalgia - but it undermines the commonality achieved by bringing its rulebook into line with the WEC. GTP or Hypercar, both sides should settle on a single name

WEC
Feb 15, 2022
Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing Prime

Celebrating the weird and wonderful monsters of sportscar racing

Few disciplines of motorsport offer better possibilities to build a colossus of the track than sportscars. For Autosport's recent Monsters of Motorsport special issue, we picked out some of the finest (and not so fine) that have graced sportscar classics including Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring

Le Mans
Feb 4, 2022
How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic Prime

How Castroneves and Meyer Shank conquered another US classic

Helio Castroneves continued his fine start to life with Meyer Shank Racing that netted the 2021 Indianapolis 500 victory by prevailing in last weekend's Daytona 24 Hours together with teammates Tom Blomqvist, Oliver Jarvis and Simon Pagenaud. As Cadillac fell by the wayside, the Brazilian veteran won out in an all-Acura duel to the finish

IMSA
Feb 1, 2022