If you’re not directly involved with the high-octane world of 24-hour endurance racing, it’s easy to forget that races like last weekend’s 24 Heures Du Mans take months -- even years -- to prepare for. 

On Saturday, Mazda reminded us of just that fact by announcing its intention to bring its SkyActiv-D diesel engines to next year’s event, a whole day before the winner for this year’s event had been decided. 

Based on the stock, 2.2-liter, 4-cylinder, twin-stage turbocharged SkyActiv-D diesel engine Mazda offers as an engine option for the 2012 CX-5 in Europe, Mazda’s race engine is already attracting interest from teams. 

As MotorAuthority reports, the first team to sign with Mazda for this new engine is American-based Dempsey racing, owned by actor and race enthusiast Patrick Dempsey.  

Mazda SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine - Courtesy Mazda

Mazda SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine - Courtesy Mazda

With five-years of RX-8 racing under its belt in the Grand-Am GT class, the race team will use Mazda’s 2.2-liter SkyActiv-D engine in its Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class race car during 2013. 

In fact, while Patrick Dempsey and his co-driver Joe Foster were tackling the GT category of the 2012 24 Heures Du Mans, a team of engineers were putting next year’s LMP2 car, and its diesel engine, through testing in Virginia. 

Determined to regain the winning position of its rotary engine technology at Le Mans in 1991, Mazda hopes its SkyActiv-D technology will be chosen by as many LMP2 teams as possible entering next year’s race. 

“This reopens our love affair with Le Mans,” said Jay Amestoy, Vice president of Mazda Motorsports, Mazda North American Operations. “In 1991 we mad history, winning with our rotary technology. Now we’re looking to return to the winner’s circle with what we will be the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport as ever seen.” 

Will Mazda succeed, bringing back winning form to Le Mans? Or will the diesel engine struggle to keep up with advanced hybrid race technology? 

We’ve got to wait a whole year to find out. 


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