Mazda Seeks Hat Trick
Motorsports fans know that on any given weekend there are more Mazdas road-raced than any other brand. It starts with grassroots racing and extends upwards to the professional ranks.
On Saturday, September 17, Mazda teams are seeking to deliver Mazda a motorsports trifecta – race wins and manufacturers championships in ALMS, Grand-Am, and the Continental Tire series. Two of the championships conclude on that day, with the third being closed out two weeks later.
While Mazda has scored hundreds of wins and dozens of championships over the past 40 years, they wanted to verify this was indeed a first ever. János Wimpffen, Ph.D. from the Sports Car Racing Research Associates confirmed that there is no record of any car company scoring three such major championships in the same year.
In the Rolex Grand-Am Championship, Mazda competes in the GT class against their traditional sports car rivals; Porsche, BMW, and Chevrolet. After 11 of 12 races in 2011, Mazda holds a slim one-point lead. The strength of Mazda has been in durability and teamwork, with SpeedSource, Dempsey Racing, and Team Sahlen’s all contributing points this year.
The September 17 race for Grand-Am will be at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In a perfect Zoom-Zoom world, a Mazda team will simply win the race to secure the championship. Beyond that, the math gets very complicated depending upon who wins and how many points Mazda needs relative to those competitors. The SpeedSource No 70 Mazda RX-8 of Sylvain Tremblay and Jonathan Bomarito are in third place among teams, and well within striking distance of a championship. They do not need to win the race, but they must place ahead of their points rivals.
Also at Mid-Ohio is the final round of the Continental Tire Challenge. Mazda currently leads the Continental Tire Street Touring Manufacturers Championship by 17 points after nine of ten races. This has been a year of extreme competition with teams from VW, BMW, KIA, Mini, and Honda all contesting the championship. Mazda has two teams who have been racing hard all year long, Freedom Autosport and i-Moto Racing. The teams have been racing with MAZDASPEED3s and MX-5s. Mazda only needs to place one car among the top thirteen to secure this championship.
In the American Le Mans series Mazda competes in the fastest class, LMP1. The primary rival in 2011 has been Aston Martin with their V12 prototype. Mazda races with Dyson Racing with a turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder Mazda MZR-R engine. The team has scored two overall wins including a recent one-two in Baltimore where they also won the Michelin Green X Challenge. The Dyson team also leads the drivers and team standings. With two races remaining Mazda only needs a second place at Mazda Raceway (September 17) and a finish at the Petit Le Mans (October 1) to secure the championship.
John Doonan, Director of Motorsports for Mazda North American Operations noted; “To win any professional championship is a huge accomplishment. To be in a position to win three, in the same season, is simply amazing. The fact that we have this potential is thanks to many people, ranging from our great teams and drivers, to our engineers, and extends to our dealers, partners, and fans. My only problem is the fact that I cannot watch all three races in person.”
About Mazda & MAZDASPEED
Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America. Thousands of Mazda powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world’s largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. In 2006 Mazda established the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder to assist racers in moving up through the ranks. In 2010 this was expanded to include the Mazda Road to Indy. Key to Mazda success is strategic partnerships with the Skip Barber Racing School and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
MAZDASPEED Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers. Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com Racers and fans can the action on facebook (Mazdaspeed Motorsports).