Audi and Peugeot may be the only automakers to win Le Mans with diesel engines, but another Le Mans winner is about to join the diesel ranks. Mazda plans to introduce a racing variant of its production 2.2-litre Skyactiv-D diesel engine for the 2013 racing season.
The production version of the diesel is expected to become available in North America next year, in Mazda's CX-5 utility vehicle.
Mazda Motorsports says it will supply its race-tuned clean-diesel engine to teams competing in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class of international motorsport as well as those contesting the new Advanced Technology GX Class of the 2013 GRAND-AM championship in North America.
The racing engine will use a stock aluminum, open-deck cylinder block as well as modified versions of the production-based common-rail injection and two-stage turbocharging systems.
The Skyactiv-D race engines are being developed jointly by Mazda Motor Corporation in Japan, Mazda North American Operations and Florida-based SpeedSource Engineering, which currently develops Mazda’s RX-8 Grand-Am race cars.
Dyno testing of prototype engines has already begun and on-track testing is scheduled for late 2012.
Mazda Motorsports engineers are said to be targeting "around 400 horsepower" from the racing powerplant.
Mazda did not announce which car or team will run the racing diesel engine in the 2013 GX series but it is scheduled to make its Le Mans debut with Dempsey Racing. Mazda is the only Asian car maker to have won the prestigious 24-hour endurance race, in 1991.
"We’ve won international races with rotary engine technology at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. Now we’re looking to return to the winner’s circle with what we believe will be the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport has ever seen," said Jay Amestoy, Vice President of Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO).
"We’ll do it in true Mazda style as the SKYACTIV technology will allow Mazda to chart its own path in racing, showcasing the latest developments in fuel-efficient, powerful and clean powertrains," added Amestoy.
Mr Masahiro Moro, Executive Officer in charge of global sales and marketing of Mazda Motor Corporation, said: "Mazda has always fostered the culture of 'never stop challenging.' And it was this spirit that drove us through 18 consecutive years of racing at Le Mans, until we triumphed in 1991. "It is this same spirit that laid the foundation for our Skyactiv Technologies, pushing us forwards to make technical breakthroughs."
Dempsey Racing (co-owned by racer/actor Patrick Dempsey) is making preparations to become the first team to use Mazda’s SKYACTIV-D racing powerplant in LMP2 next year.
Patrick and his business partner/co-driver Joe Foster have both competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours in the GT category, and are eager to return in 2013 contesting the LMP2 class with Mazda clean diesel-power.
The team expanded its operations this year to include running in the American Le Mans Series, competing in both the Prototype Challenge (LMPC) and Prototype 2 (LMP2) classes as they prepare for their 2013 Le Mans effort.
Dempsey Racing has been campaigning Mazda RX-8s in the GRAND-AM GT class since 2007, scoring a remarkable podium finish at the 2011 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. The team has steadily improved its performance in the series, and was a key contributor to Mazda winning the 2010 GRAND-AM GT Manufacturers Championship.