Mazda introduced its new IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship challenger to a capacity crowd at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 16. Factory drivers Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Joel Miller and Tom Long pulled the cover away to reveal a very slippery ad curvy looking racecar.
The new Daytona Prototype, called “Mazda RT24-P” named for the brilliant “Mazda Road to 24” driver development program will be powered by the Mazda MZ-2.0T four-cylinder, turbocharged engine producing near 600 horsepower and a Riley/Multimatic prototype chassis with specially designed Mazda bodywork.
The DPi category has allowed the manufacturers to build bespoke racecars again, versus the “Spec” chassis that many found unappealing. For 2017 Nissan will also be producing a DPi cvar. IMSA has classically been a bespoke series, seeing some of the most iconic prototype sports racing machines in history compete, including the Porsche 917, Ferrari 512 and Mazda 787. Other manufactures are producing LM P2 chassis for the series including Riley/Multimatic, Ligier, ORECA and Dallara, powered by spec Gibson V8 engines.
The bodywork follows the design philosophies of Mazda’s KODO-Soul of Motion and includes elements such as body contours and a five-point Mazda grille. Lead designer Jacques Flynn, “The surface describes a reflection rather than lines. There is not a lot of break up between body side, hood and fender. It is one continuous kind of movement.”
The design process was quick according to Flynn who has been very excited to be a part of this team and expression. It is pure racecar and pure Mazda.
Flynn continues, “Design-wise this was a difficult car to achieve. If you look at the 2016 car it has right angles and looks ‘Lego-y.’ The biggest challenge right away was ‘lets get rid of those lines and get this nice fluid form over the fenders and needs to dip back down over the engine cover.”
There isn’t a lot of time before the season begins again January with the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the team drivers are excited to get a very rapid testing program going. “The Roar Before the Rolex 24” begins January 6 and will officially kick off the 12 race schedule which include endurance classics such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, Le Petit LeMans, 6 Hours of the Glen and The Monterey Grand Prix.
The team is very confident they have the magic formula for success. 2016’s Lola chassis is night and day compared to the new challenger. “I can’t even count how many improvements we see on the (RT24-P) in drivability, performance and comfort,” said driver Jonathan Bomarito.
Driver Joel Miller commented, “I think that IMSA’s a Jim France’ view of having this DPi category where the manufacturers can mold their bodywork and put their engines in the car, this is the first display of that concept coming to life and I think Mazda has achieved it beautifully with the headlights and the grille. You can tell this is a Mazda!”