• 2016/01/18
  • USCC

The 2016 Mazda Prototype Team Lineup

Mazda USA announced this year’s competitive line up prior to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Rolex 24 At Daytona to be held at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The Mazda prototype team will be racing with two vehicles equipped with all new engines that will sport the number 70, which the team has used up until now, and the number 55 that commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Mazda 787B that took victory in the 1991 Le Mans.

The new racing engine has been dubbed the “MZ-2.0T”. The “MZ” stands for Mazda, while the “2.0” refers to the engine’s 2-liter displacement and the “T” it’s turbo. The in-line 4-cylinder gasoline direct-injection turbo engine achieves 570hp and approximately 285hp per liter. The engine has a compression ratio of 13.5:1 and its Garrett turbocharger creates a maximum boost of 2.6bar (2.65kg / cm2) that achieves excellent power and throttle response while retaining a high level of fuel efficiency. The MZ-2.0T was developed over a period of approximately 1 year in conjunction with Advanced Engine Research Ltd (AER) and it undertook 4000 test miles at the “ROAR before the 24” test sessions held at Daytona International Speedway.

Driving the #55 will be Tristan Nunez and Jonathan Bomarito while regulars Joel Miller and Tom Long will be taking the wheel of the #70. In addition, 22-year old Spencer Pigot will be joining the #55 drivers and 33-year old Ben Devlin the #70’s lineup for the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Spencer Pigot is the 2015 Indy Lights champion. Having began competing from grass roots racing, he is the first driver to win Mazda USA’s development scholarship four times. After winning several lower level series titles he went on to grab the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship and earn himself a scholarship to compete in the 2015 Indy Lights. He then took the title in that series also, which gained him a US$1 million scholarship and the right to compete in three IndyCar races. “The Mazda Road to Indy has been very important to my development as a driver,” said Pigot. “The cars within the ladder system train you to compete at the top levels of motorsport. Because I had done a full season with the Indy Lights car with Mazda turbo power, I was able to get comfortable with the power and downforce of the Prototype pretty quickly. Driving in the Daytona 24 Hours is a new experience for me which I’m very excited about. Mazda have been a huge part of my career and I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity to drive in the Rolex 24.”

The other Daytona spot driver, Ben Devlin, has a wealth of experience racing prototypes. He drove in a Mazda prototype alongside Marino Franchitti and Butch Leitzinger and took victory in the 2009 Petit Le Mans (Road Atlanta).

Mazda Motorsports Director John Doonan went on to say, “We gained immense knowledge from three years of racing a stock-block diesel engine. That knowledge will improve the next generation of Mazda diesel engines. But, with the impending rules changes in 2017 [which will not allow a diesel-fueled option], a purpose-built racing engine was our best choice to reach our long-term goals and contend for race wins and championships. After extensive testing, the MZ-2.0T is not only very fast, but reliable as well. There was no off-season for this team, as they’ve worked incredibly hard to prepare for the season. Mazda loves to race, and we couldn’t be more optimistic about the prospect of this engine and our team.”

Jonathan Bomarito also commented, “There is great low-end torque with zero turbo-lag, which is very impressive. All race tracks are different and the gearing is never perfect for every corner, so having an engine where you can short-shift or stretch a gear longer is very important.” At the same time Marcus Shen, Chief Engineer of the Mazda Prototype team related, “It’s more powerful so we’re going faster. Once you go faster, the aerodynamics work very differently – we have much more downforce – and the chassis works better. It’s not just straightaway speed, the engine has improved every aspect of our overall performance.”

In the 3-day tests that were carried out in the second week of January, the team recorded the 3rd fastest times in the prototype class. With the introduction of a brand new direct-injection gasoline turbo engine and the addition of a young driver brought up through Mazda’s ladder system and sports car racing scholarships, we won’t be able to pull our eyes away from this year’s prototype races even for a second.

[Related links]
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IMSA Sportscar Grand Prix CTMP 2016
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[Related video clips]
>>> DAYTONA 24 HOURS 2016
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