Mazda has a long racing history, not always in a conventional way. Back in 1991, Mazda took its 787B Wankel-powered racer to a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Well now in 2013 Mazda is doing things differently again. Mazda is racing the new Mazda6 sedan with the same turbocharged 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D turbo-diesel that will arrive in the 2014 Mazda6 later this year.
While Audi has proved the diesel’s worth at Le Mans, there aren’t many diesel powered race cars out there. Mazda is trying to prove that its Skyactiv-D production engine is both quick and reliable by racing it in Grand-Am’s new production-based GX class.
Unlike a lot of race cars, Mazda’s SKYACTIV-D race engine uses over 250 part numbers straight out of the road-car engine. Just like the stock engine, the race car has the same 14:1 compression ratio. The diesel is rated at 400 horsepower and 445 lb-ft of torque with Garrett bi-turbos pumping to a max of about 70 psi. Other than the manner in which it is mounted in the car, this engine is almost identical to the 450-hp, 500-lb-ft diesel that Mazda will race at Le Mans in the LMP2 class.
Dempsey Racing, co-owned by actor/racer Patrick Dempsey, is expected to be the first LMP2 customer for the Mazda diesel. Dempsey and his team plan to race the diesel-powered prototype at Le Mans in 2013.
After the racing the Mazda6 last weekend at Daytona, driver James Hinchcliffe said, “The brakes are phenomenal, the transmission is excellent. The big difference, of course, is the engine, which revs so low and yet is still so torquey. It’s a big adjustment. And we’ve come from driving what is essentially the loudest engine ever produced by man (the rotary) to one of the quietest ones.” A point we confirmed as the cars (relatively) whispered past us at speed.
The Skyactiv-D Mazda 6s are the first diesel-powered race cars to compete in the Grand-Am series or at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
You can see the Mazda6 Grand-Am race next at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas March 1-3, 2013 or test drive the 2014 Mazda6 with the gas-powered 2.5L SKYACTIV engine for yourself at West Coast Mazda today!
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