All three 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D clean diesels entered in U.S. Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill made it ‘till the end, with one of them finding a spot on the podium.
The “Factory Guys versus Dealers” battle in identically prepared, modified-for-racing 2014 Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D clean diesels, was of particular interest. The final score was dealers over the factory guys, but ultimately it was a win-win as the three Mazda6s were perfect on the powertrain front, all three finishing.
Mazda said a few minor racing-related incidents resulted in suspension repairs, but great driving and amazing fuel economy meant that the #55 Mazda6, driven by Mazda dealers Richard Fisher (The Autobarn Mazda, Evanston, IL), Joel Weinberger (Continental Motors, Naperville, IL) and Taz Harvey (Dublin Mazda, Tracy Mazda, Dublin/Tracy, CA) finished on the podium in the E1 class. The second Mazda dealer car finished fifth with the Mazda employees sixth.
The competition was held on a freezing cold weekend at the longest endurance race in America, the National Auto Sport Association (NASA)’s US Air Force 25 Hours of Thunderhill.
Mazda pointed out that of the 57 cars that took the green flag on Saturday, 16 of them were Mazda-powered, more than any other brand. When the checkered flag dropped on Sunday, three of the six classes had Mazda racers on the podium, led by Mazda class-wins in the E2 and E3 classes, in Mazda MX-5 Miata.
“While Le Mans and Daytona are better known endurance races, the Thunderhill 25 can make a claim as being every bit as challenging,” said Robert Davis, MNAO Senior Vice President, US Operations. “For Mazda to come here with three brand new cars, prepped by volunteer employees on their own time, and a team of dealers and employees to drive them, speaks volumes about our cars and our people. Equally important is having another dozen-plus customer teams who chose to race our products. Success at this track is a combination of having the right cars and the right teams, and a little racing luck, and we’re pleased to have two more wins here. Congratulations to everyone at Sector Purple Racing and RJ Racing on their E2 and E3 wins.”
The three Mazda6 clean diesel are not the same SpeedSource cars that won the 2013 Grand-Am GX Manufacturers Championship, but are said to be far-more production-based. Working on nights and weekends over the past three months, Mazda said an all-volunteer Mazda employee team transformed three brand-new European-specification Mazda6s into racecars ready to contest the event in NASA’s E1 class.
Mechanically, Mazda explained the cars were nearly stock, but the interiors were removed to accommodate an Anthony Woodford Racing roll-cage, a Sparco Pro-ADV racing seat , Safecraft racing seatbelts and plumbed-in fire systems and AIM MXL Pista dashes and data acquisition.
Under the skin, the SKYACTIV-D diesel engine, which was fueled by Dynamic Fuels’ unique diesel blend, and six-speed manual SKYACTIV-MT transmission put their power to the ground through custom-designed ProParts USA suspension utilizing Koni dampers and Hypercoil springs, and custom ProParts rear stabilizer bars. Connecting all this to the track are 17x8” Enkei Kojin wheels wrapped in 245/40R-17 BFGoodrich g-Force R1 tires. Braking-wise, the experts at StopTech delivered their four-piston STR-40 calipers and AeroRotors, backed by custom braided lines.