Mazda is taking its “Zoom Zoom” slogan to an entirely new level this season in IMSA’s Daytona Prototype International class. The company has a long and storied history in sports car racing and, along with Sylvain Tremblay’s SpeedSource team, officials plan to write a new chapter with their latest bullet.
But first some history.
The company claims more Mazdas are raced every weekend than any other brand in the world, thanks in large part to the MX-5 Miata. Mazda’s two-, three- and four-rotor Wankel engines have screamed on race tracks worldwide, including being the only Japanese car maker to win overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Tremblay and SpeedSource have played a key role in that history. The Florida-based team is responsible for more than 40 professional wins and 15 championships, including a pair of Rolex 24 At Daytona class victories. That made the team an obvious choice to develop Mazda’s new race car.
John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports of North America, welcomes IMSA’s decision to brand cars in the DPi category.
“Racing in the top category allows us to stand out as a brand,” Doonan said. “If you park a Mazda next to one of these prototypes, you will certainly see the similarities and design philosophies from our chief designers. It’s an opportunity to tell a deeper design story.”
The car is built around Mazda’s KODO, “The Spirit of Motion” design philosophy. SpeedSource campaigns the RT24-P for Mazda and Tremblay flatly says the concept is not marketing mumbo jumbo.
“The designers explained it to me as how the light reflects off the surface and surface tension,” Tremblay said. “It’s a common language among all of the Mazdas. If you look at all the production cars, all of them make sense so they all follow the same theme. It’s very important.”
Even the RT24-P designation has special significance. It represents a commitment to aspiring sports car drivers like Mazda has for those in the Indy Lights and Road to Indy programs. This expands the company’s commitment to include up-and-coming road racers who dream of competing in the Rolex 24.
“We like the concept,” Tremblay said. “The rules dictate what type of product you will have … it (RT24-P) is lower. It has more power and a longer wheelbase and a lot of safety components, so we’re pretty excited about it. Then we have the opportunity to make it a Mazda.”
SpeedSource has been with the project from the beginning. “We started with a fresh sheet of paper and made it look like a Mazda,” Tremblay explained. “We’ve been able to achieve that at a high level and the response has been fantastic. Everybody is very pleased with the look of the cars.”
Like a prize-fighter, the engine punches above its weight. The two-liter RT24-P showed plenty of speed during pre-season testing, posting the second fastest straightaway speed. One would think it would be giving up a lot to the V-8 in the Cadillac and the V-6 turbo in the Nissan, but it doesn’t. “We just make power in a different way,” Tremblay said.