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Mazda Motorsports Media Update
By Christen D'Alessandro on April 17, 2013

Yesterday, PRI attended the 7th Annual Mazda Motorsports Media Update at Mazda Research and Development in Irvine, California. We discovered what’s new for Mazda in 2013, were introduced to MazdaSpeed7, learned about the SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel engine and finished up with a tasty lunch from TK Burgers.

Mazda Director of Motorsports John Doonan made a key point that Mazda is very proud of: “More Mazdas are road raced on any given weekend than any other manufacturer.”

Mazda’s 2013 programs consist of SCCA and NASA club racing, including B-Spec racing, Skip Barber MX-5 and Formula car schools and series, SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, Mazda Road to Indy (USF2000, Pro Mazda, Firestone Indy Lights), IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites, Grand-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Grand-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series, which will be racing this coming weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

After discussing Mazda’s racing initiatives for 2013, Doonan invited Eric Prill, VP Marketing & Communications at SCCA, to the stage to announce that SCCA and Mazda North American Operations have partnered up, naming Mazda the Official Car of SCCA through 2015.

Doonan also mentioned Mazda’s continued partnership with the famed Central California race track, which will remain Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca until 2016.

The 2013 MazdaSpeed 7 team consists of Matthew Brabham (2012 USF2000 Champion), Yago Cesário (2012 Skip Barber Karting Shootout Champion), Patrick Gallagher (2012 Mazda Club Racer Shootout Champion), Jack Hawksworth (2012 Star Mazda Champion), Bryan Hixon (2012 Skip Barber MazdaSpeed Challenge winner) Stevan McAleer (2012 Playboy MX-5 Cup Champion) and Peter Portante (2012 Skip Barber Series Shootout Champion).

The second part of the presentation was given by Sylvain Tremblay, president at SpeedSource, and Zach LaGrone, engineer at SpeedSource, and they introduced the SKYACTIV-D program in great detail, which debuted the engine at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

This was the first OE based diesel motorsports engine and it’s also the first fully CAD designed racing engine by SpeedSource and Mazda. After the SKYACTIV-D production engines arrived at SpeedSource, the engineers got to work.

The base of the Mazda engine was retained and proved to be strong enough for motorsports use. Rules didn’t allow for porting of the cylinder head, so motorsport engine development was focused on the engine internals, including the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons and wrist pins. The dry sump oil pan was machined entirely in-house from aircraft grade aluminum billets. SpeedSource worked with Wilson Manifolds to develop a mototsports intake manifold.

The top end of the SKYACTIV-D engine is run nearly as delivered from Mazda, with the timing systems being 100 percent Mazda components. Valvetrain components from Mazda include intake camshaft, camshaft gears, rockers, valve guides, valve spring seats, valve spring retainers, camshaft caps, valve cover cap, hydraulic lash adjuster, intake valves and exhaust valves. Changes to the top end were limited to stiffer valve springs and a modified camshaft timing wheel.

After the in-depth overview of the new diesel engine, IndyCar driver and Mazda alum JR Hildebrand made an appearance, talking a bit about his experience with the Mazda program and how it propelled him to where he’s at now.

After the presentation wrapped up, the media members in attendance were treated to a nice lunch with the opportunity to ask questions, make new contacts or just mingle and enjoy a burger!

About the Author
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Christen D'Alessandro is the Associate Editor of Performance Racing Industry magazine.
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