New tune: Mazda will race SkyActiv-D diesel engines in 2013

Mazda Sky-Activ-D diesel engineMazda Motorsports has announced that it will supply the new SkyActiv-D clean diesel engines to customer teams competing in Grand-Am’s new GX Class for advanced/clean technologies. Mazda, known for the high-revving rotary engines it pioneered, is now working on advanced diesel technology along with new gasoline engine technology instead of electric cars and hybrids to reach emissions and fuel economy goals.

Jay Amestoy, vice president of Mazda Motorsports for North America, said, “We’ve won with rotary technology, and now we’re looking to again put our customers in the winner’s circle with what we believe will be the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport has ever seen.”

While Mazda has provided direct support to a “factory team,” including an effort that ended up with Mazda being the only Asian car company with an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mazda has had great success with supporting independent racing teams with technical support and assistance.  It’s said that on any given weekend there are more Mazdas on road-race track than any other brand.

Mazda will introduce the new SkyActiv-D 2.2-liter diesel to the North American market in a production car in 2013, though as usual for Mazda, has been coy about saying in which model the engine would first appear. The Mazda Takeri concept—a precursor to the next-generation Mazda6—was shown at the New York International Auto Show with the diesel under its hood, suggesting that the Mazda6 may indeed get the diesel.

Similarly, the Mazda model in which the SkyActiv-D racing engine will be installed won’t be announced until after the 2012 GRAND-AM racing season is over.

The engines that Mazda will sell to racers are stock-block Mazda SKYACTIV-D 2.2-liter diesel four-cylinder engines with dual-stage turbocharging. Details of the racing engine haven’t been released, however, the production engines will have a low 14:1 compression ratio, a new two-stage turbocharger and a 5,200 rpm redline. More specifically, Mazda’s Robert Davis, senior VP of U.S. operations, told Automotive News that SkyActiv-D prototype production engines make 160 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

The engines are a joint project by Mazda Motor Corporation, Mazda North American Operations and SpeedSource Engineering, which has had significant success with the Mazda RX-7 and Mazda RX-8.  Dyno testing has already begun and on-track testing begins in late 2012.  Engine pricing and terms will be announced at a later date.

Mazdas have been racing with the high-revving rotary engines since the late sixties, and despite the number of gasoline piston-engined cars—think Miata—plus rotary engines that will remain competitive in various classes, SkyActiv-D-powered racers will sing a different tune for race fans.