I love endurance prototype racecars. They take truly concept-level ingenuity in aero and grip to the streets.
Well, to the road courses and banked ovals of the racing circuits! This new RT24-P from Mazda is a pretty magnificent specimen for blending on-brand design cues with the mandates of any race class.
The RT24-P is designed to dominate the top class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship -- a new class called DPi, for Daytona Prototype International.
The RT24-P name itself means the "Road To 24 - Prototype."
As before, this machine would slide beside the FIA LMP2 race class, traditionally. Cars that are as fast as the Porsche 919 or Toyota TS050... but are much simpler and employ more conventional power sources. The RT24 runs the same racing turbo four as the previous-gen Mazda racers. So this RT24-P update is heavily focused on grip, aerodynamics and lightweighting.
The broader competitive set means it is anyone's race -- on every outing.
We'll be rooting for this RT24-P when it makes its race debut this January around Daytona speedway.
We're extra glad Mazda found another signature color, however. The maroon of the pre-show renderings (and most Mazda production-car reveals) is pretty exhausted.
2017 Mazda RT24-P
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (November 16, 2016) – The new Mazda RT24-P race car was unveiled today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, ushering a new era in the prominent history of Mazda Motorsports’ flagship endeavors in North America. The new car will compete under Daytona Prototype international (DPi) rules in the Prototype class, the top level of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After significant on-track testing, it will make its racing debut at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona in late January.
Mazda is known globally for the engineering and design excellence of its vehicles, and the new Prototype is no exception. The bodywork of the race car was developed by Mazda designers utilizing the KODO—Soul of Motion design philosophy. KODO represents the instant that energy becomes motion, such as the muscular beauty as an animal pounces or a human leaps into action. The KODO design cues on the Mazda RT24-P include the sleek body contours and the five-point Mazda grille.
“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 Saward, senior manager of Design at Mazda Design Americas, which falls under the Mazda North American Operations umbrella. “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.”
Managing the two-car Mazda Prototype factory race team is Florida-based SpeedSource Race Engineering. The team will race the new Riley Mk. 30 chassis, developed by Riley Technologies in relationship with Multimatic. Riley Technologies is a prominent chassis design and development company with 99 race wins and nine Prototype season championships in North American endurance racing since 2004. Canadian-based Multimatic has worked with Mazda since 2014 in the Prototype category, and has developed and built some of the world’s premier on-road supercars and successful sports cars for the race track. The Mazda team will be the first to test the Riley Mk. 30 chassis later this month.
The Mazda RT24-P will be powered by the Mazda MZ-2.0T engine which raced during the 2016 IMSA season. The approximately 600-horsepower engine, developed and raced with Advanced Engine Research (AER), is a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
“This is a huge moment for Mazda Motorsports and the entire Mazda family,” said John Doonan, director of Mazda Motorsports North 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.
“Mazda has good, long-standing relationships with Riley and Multimatic, and is happy to be the first to test their new chassis. We look forward to seeing it make its racing debut at Daytona with Mazda bodywork and the Mazda MZ-2.0T engine. The strategic vision of IMSA to give auto manufacturers this opportunity to integrate our branding —to better engage our passionate fans— is unique and we’re proud to be the first to unveil what is possible.”
What’s in a Name?
The Mazda RT24-P name echoes the Mazda Road to 24, a driver development program that provides scholarships to help championship-winning drivers progress from grassroots into the upper categories of professional sports car racing. The “24” also represents the two-liter, four-cylinder race engine. The “P” signifies Prototype.
Mazda currently holds a more-than-55-percent market share in grassroots racing, and the Mazda Road to 24 helps provide championship-winning drivers an opportunity to earn scholarships to compete in pro categories such as the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BF Goodrich Tires. Mazda’s similar scholarship system in open-wheel racing is known as the Mazda Road to Indy. By the start of the 2017 season, Mazda will have provided $14.9 million in driver development scholarships to 53 drivers since 2007.
Mazda Motorsports boasts the most comprehensive auto racing development ladder system of any auto manufacturer in the world. The Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24) program offers a number of scholarships to advance drivers up the sports car racing ladder, beginning with the Global MX-5 Cup series and culminating with the Mazda Prototype team. The Mazda Road to Indy (#MRTI) is a similar program that includes Mazda-powered categories of USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. In grassroots road racing, more Mazdas race on any given weekend in North America than any other manufacturer. Mazda is the title sponsor of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Follow all of the latest news at MazdaMotorsports.com, @MazdaRacing on Twitter, and MazdaMotorsports on Instagram and Facebook.