The world of alternative-fuel racing has picked up steam in the past year, especially with Mazda’s entry of two turbodiesel race cars in Grand-Am’s GX class. After Grand-Am’s merger with American Le Mans, some wondered if Mazda would continue its racing commitment. Well fear not, as Mazda has signed on with a pair of turbodiesel racers in the newly-formed United SportsCar Championship series.
In fact, Mazda has maintained its commitment to diesel racing despite the series upheaval, and Mazda will even keep on the same four drivers from last year’s winning season. However, the 2.2 liter turbodiesel engines will be improved to produce even more power to compete in the TUDOR prototype class. This is the top tier of USCC racing, though Mazda is quick to point out there their racing engine is 51% stock by parts content, and 63% stock by weight.
To me, Mazda is saying that their turbodiesel engine isn’t merely about efficiency, but performance as well. It gives me hope that the spunky Japanese automaker will go beyond other diesel manufacturers, and support enthusiasts looking for more than just torque and fuel economy. If Mazda can pull off a win as the only diesel in the TUDOR class, it could draw a lot of attention to the long-anticipated-and-much-delayed Mazda6 diesel, a car I have personally be itching to drive for some time.
The two Mazda diesel racers made their first public laps at last weeks’ “Roar before 24” test-and-tune session, and will kick off the inaugural USCC season on January 25th. And I know I’m not the only one who will be watching to see how well these diesel engines do.