As the self-described “only Asian auto maker committed to bringing modern clean-diesel technology to the United States,” Mazda is offering its 2.2-liter SKYACTIV-D four-cylinder diesel for sale to race teams to compete in the newly announced GX class for GRAND-AM racing.
This third class to compete in the Rolex Sports Car Series will begin in 2013 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, was announced at the end of May, and is open to alternative technologies including turbocharged engines; fuels other than gasoline, such as clean diesels; and hybrid powertrains.
“A number of OEMs have expressed their desire to field cars that wouldn’t fit within our current two-class structure, so it makes good sense for us to find a way to accommodate those desires and in the process make something that’s already great – the Rolex Series – even better,” said GRAND-AM President and CEO Ed Bennett.”
Mazda’s engine, pictured above, is based on a production design, but of course highly modified. The actual vehicle(s) it will be installed in for competition won’t be announced until the end of the 2012 GRAND-AM racing season, but the Japanese underdog manufacturer is offering a sneak preview.
Noting prior successes with its rotary engined RX-8 in the GRAND-AM GT class, including championship titles, Mazda says it’s turning a fresh page in its continued efforts to race its technology on Sunday, and sell on Monday.
“This opens a new chapter in racing for us,” said Jay Amestoy, Vice President of Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). “We’ve won with rotary technology, and now we’re looking to again put our customers in the winner’s circle with what we believe will be the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport has ever seen.”
Mazda North America’s Director of Motorsports, John Doonan, said the dual-stage turbocharged powerplants “will deliver outstanding performance and fuel economy coupled with the kind of quality, durability and reliability needed to produce great street cars and win endurance races.”
The powerplant will sport a 14:1 low compression ratio, a new two stage turbo, and be redlined at 5,200 rpm. Mazda says compared to the current-production 2.2-liter MZR-CD diesel engine, the racing version will have as much as 20-percent lower fuel consumption, 20-percent less internal friction, and will weigh 10-percent less.
If you’re not a techie, but do like high-paced action, expect colorful televised wheel-to-wheel action in sportscars on closed course circuits, and Doonan says the commitment is now full steam ahead for diesel to pick up where rotary power left off.
“We operate our motorsports program as a business, selling everything from B-Spec performance kits for the Mazda2 to complete powertrains,” said Doonan. “We’ve won at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring with rotary power. While the SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine is all-Mazda, the teams will be independents. We look forward to taking customer orders later this year.”