On the heels of Mazda’s announcement of its entry into the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with a pair of factory SKYACTIV-D powered Lolas, FOX Sports’ SPEED blog caught up with Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan for added insight into the program and its goals for 2014 and beyond.
John Dagys: Is 2014 going to be considered more of a development year for Mazda and SpeedSource as you get acclimated into the P2 formula?
John Doonan: “We have to prove the package. We’ve been running the engine with success in GX and we proved that it’s reliable. But now we have to turn the wick up. Throughout the entire GX process, we’ve had this in mind.
“I would say this is kind of like a Step 2, and an ongoing process, quite frankly. While it’s been on the back-burner publicly, we’ve never taken it off our wish list or radar.”
Dagys: Does the factory TUDOR Championship program also include an effort in the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
Doonan: “It’s certainly Mazda’s intention to go back to Le Mans with a customer program. To be fair to the rule-makers, I think it’s appropriate for us to run in the U.S. first to prove the reliability of the package, prove the Balance of Performance and do it right.
“We’re not going to try and pull the wool over anybody’s eyes. I think there’s some nervousness over BoP with diesel vs. petrol. But my intention is that [they’ll] do the right thing.”
Dagys: With the factory Mazda6 GX program complete, do you anticipate there being any of those cars still racing next year, potentially in the hands of customers?
Doonan: “There’s some interest with some customer teams in possibly running them in GTD. We’ll have to wait and see what happens there.”
Dagys: Given still some uncertainties over the Balance of Performance in the Prototype class, are you confident the P2 cars can fight for overall wins?
Doonan: “I have every confidence in the IMSA staff that they’re going to get it right.”
Dagys: Given that you’ll be fighting for overall wins, is the P2 program a better fit for Mazda, from a marketing standpoint?
Doonan: “I think we all have a duty in sports car racing to tell the story to a broader audience. I really feel strongly that’s our goal. What you’re going to see from us is a show car program, educational outreach programs at schools in advance of races.
“This is a very serious effort to tell the Mazda story, the SKYACTIV story and the overall United SportsCar Championship story to as big of an audience as we can.
“Some of it will be with the hardcore audiences and others that we may have not met yet, the younger generation that needs to understand why we do what we do and why it should matter to them.
“For us to be able to fight for overall victories and tell that story is really strong.”