Diesel push putting Mazda in front
In only its fourth event, the Mazda6 diesel has won a Grand Am race, reports DAVE MOORE.
Keen to promote its SkyActiv diesel technology to the US market, Mazda has been competing for a couple of months now in the North Amercan Rolex Grand-Am GX class. Diesel has grown by more than 24 per cent as the US fuel of choice since 2010 and Mazda is the only Japanese brand gearing-up to offer such power units in the passenger market, though several European brands are on the case. Powered by a production-based SkyActiv-D clean diesel engine, Mazda has now scored a win in the Rolex Grand-Am GX race at Road Atlanta. Joel Miller and Andrew Carbonell drove the number 00 Visit Florida Racing Mazda6 to the win, with team-mates Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long finishing third in the similar car numbered 70; SpeedSource Mazda6. It was a three-way battle for most of the race with a Porsche Cayman splitting the two Mazdas. This win represented a day of firsts. This is the first-ever win for a dieselpowered car in Grand-Am competition and the first win for the all-new Mazda6 in any race series. It was the first Grand-Am race win for drivers Joel Miller and Andrew Carbonell. Miller is a former Mazda Motorsports Scholarship winner, having won the Skip Barber National Championship in 2007. Carbonnell has been racing Mazdas with Freedom Autosport for many years, and was part of the team that delivered the 2011 Continental Tire ST Manufacturers Championship to Mazda. Carbonell was substituting for Miller’s usual team-mate, Tristan Nunez. John M Doonan, director, Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations says: ‘‘In 1991, we were the first Asian company to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and today’s GX-class win with the Mazda6 SkyActiv-D clean diesel proves that Mazda is not afraid to face a challenge. ‘‘This is the first of what we hope will be many victories, but the best part of it is how well our road-car engineers from Mazda Motor Corporation worked with the racecar engineers from SpeedSource. We’ve always said that the best street cars make the best racecars, and, with more than half of the components in the race engine being shared with the street engine, this programme is a solid proof-point, as well as proof of the quality, durability and reliability of all Mazdas. ‘‘Racing is a true team sport, and we would not have been able to achieve today’s victory without the support of everyone at Mazda R&D, SpeedSource and our fantastic partners at Castrol and Visit Florida.’’ Sylvain Tremblay, owner, SpeedSource Engineering: ‘‘While Joel and Andrew sprayed the champagne, the victory is shared with everyone and is a tribute to the thousands of hours of hard work over many months. After that rough debut at Daytona, everyone stepped up to make sure we had a fast, reliable car as soon as was possible. ‘‘The normal plan with a new car is to spend the first year in development, the second year seeking race wins, and challenging for a championship in year three. ‘‘We are already at our year-two status after four races. We can’t wait to get to the Belle Isle course in Detroit for round five.’’ Joel Miller, co-driver, 00 Visit Florida Mazda6: ‘‘The [car] ran perfectly. The torque of the diesel pulled up the elevation changes around Road Atlanta circuit strongly and it handled beautifully. ‘‘During the course of the race we attacked when needed and paced ourselves when required. The event had only one caution during its twohour and 45 minutes race, thus there was hardly any time to relax. ‘‘The SpeedSource crew was in constant communication with myself and co-driver Andrew Carbonell as we worked through traffic.’’
SkyActiv making a difference: Mazda is becoming more race-ready.