“Today we reopen our love affair with Le Mans and mark the beginning of a whole new chapter in motor racing for Mazda,” said Jay Amestoy, Vice President of Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). “We’ve won international races with rotary engine technology at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. Now we’re looking to return to the winner’s circle with what we believe will be the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport has ever seen.”
Those are the words from Mazda’s press release on the topic and they sound fantastic. Mazda is certainly no stranger to racing. Maybe that sentence you just read was kind of stupid. The company lives and breathes for making lively cars based on the it’s involvement in motorsports. Mazda is a gutsy company, and no small part of that trait comes from it being based in Hiroshima, Japan, and building a never give up approach to success right after WWII. It took the company 18 years of racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but in 1991 it finally became the first Japanese automaker to ever win the race, and the first ever to do so by using a rotary engine in the winning 787B race car. Afterwards however, Mazda left Le Mans and hasn’t been back since.
But now, Mazda wants to return to racing in the worlds toughest motor race completely for the first time in 22 years. Currently, Mazda Motorsports supplies its 2.2 liter SkyActiv-D turbocharged engine to teams in the Grand AM GX class, and small highly tuned four cylinder MZR race engines to teams such as OAK Racing Pescarolo. However development of the MZR engine ceased last year. The company has also had steady success in motorsports around the world, a prime example being the MX-5 GT race car, which will race against supercars in this years 2012 British GT Championship, and is the fastest and most powerful MX-5 in the world.
To return to LMP2 racing in Le Mans, Mazda will make its new SkyActive-D engine available to teams in the LMP2 class for U.S. and European customers competing in the World Endurance Championship, American Le Mans series, and national Grand AM Championship. The new engine is being jointly developed by Mazda Motor Corporation in Japan, Mazda North American Operations and Florida-based tuner SpeedSource Engineering. Dyno testing of prototype engines has already started and track testing is scheduled for late 2012. The engine will debut to LMP2 with Dempsey Racing in 2013, co owned by Patrick Dempsey, who has a long successful history of racing with Mazda. As part of the debut, the non running LMP2 Mazda race chassis above built by Lola will also be showcased.