On Wednesday afternoon, Mazda Motorsports took to the floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show to announce their new entry in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Up to this point, only Prototype teams running regular LMP2 chassis with the spec Gibson engine had been unveiled (one of those, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Ligier JS P217-Gibson, made its on-track debut at Daytona on Tuesday).
Mazda’s entry in the championship, the RT24-P depicted above, is the first DPi-spec car to be unveiled. It is a rather fetching design built on the Riley Mk. XXX LMP2 chassis. The bodywork used is based on the KODO design language that Mazda created for their street cars. Cars based on the design language have been sold in the United States since the introduction of the current-generation Mazda6 in 2012.
Mazda officials are very excited about the new direction of the Mazda prototype program.
“This is a huge moment for Mazda Motorsports and the entire Mazda family,” said John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports in America. “To have a car which features Mazda design language at the top level of our motorsports program is meaningful for us as a brand. We believe we have the right team, the right drivers and the right chassis to win races and championships.”
The KODO language is the current lynchpin for the Mazda brand and can be seen on everything that the company sells. The design philosophy corrlates fairly well to the Riley Mk. XXX chassis.
“KODO design is at the heart of any vehicle that carries a Mazda badge, and that is very evident in the design of the 2017 Prototype,” said Ken Seward, Senior Manager of Design at Mazda Design Americas. “We considered the two main parameters of designing a successful race car for this series: aerodynamic performance and the new-for-2017 technical regulations. Working with Multimatic’s aerodynamicist and engineers, we discovered that applying the KODO design philosophy to the surfaces and the silhouette of the car enabled us to create a dynamic, purposeful-looking design and a very aerodynamically efficient one.”
The new RT24-P will be powered by the MZ-2.0T Mazda-badged engine developed by Advanced Engine Research (AER) as last year’s Lola-based entry. Mazda currently does not have a GT3 challenger, hence the ruling.
The RT24-P is one of at least three DPi-spec entries that will be on the grid in January at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Tequila Patron ESM has already announced that they will campaign two Nissan DPi’s built on Ligier JS P217 chassis full-time in 2017. In addition, General Motors will also have at least three full-time DPi’s in the series. Neither of these cars have been shown to the general public as of yet.
Driver lineups for Mazda Motorsports’ RT24-P’s were not released on Wednesday. Expect lineups to be officially announced in the coming weeks.