Mazda will shutter its factory IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi program.
RACER understands the Japanese brand, which reached its highest achievement in the series last November with an overall win at the 12 Hours of Sebring, will bid farewell to racing its Mazda RT24-P DPi after October’s 10-hour Petit Le Mans event.
The program, run by chassis supplier Multimatic, will not return when IMSA’s new LMDh formula arrives in 2023.
Along with the upcoming withdrawal DPi, Mazda Motorsports boss Nelson Cosgrove, who joined the brand from Toyota Racing Development in 2019, is leaving the role at the end of the month. He will be replaced by veteran racing executive and program manager Mo Murray, who has been attached to Mazda’s DPi effort, among other initiatives, for many years.
“Mazda has a long history in racing and recently added several DPi victories and podium finishes during the 2020 season. This is a tribute to our ‘never stop challenging’ spirit,” chairman and CEO of Mazda North American Operations Masahiro Moro said.
“We’re especially proud of our victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring, podium finishes at Daytona’s Rolex 24 in both 2020 and 2021, and record-setting laps at Daytona in 2019 and 2020. These are significant accomplishments in the history of Mazda Motorsports. We thank our drivers, team, partners, and our fans for their years of support, and look forward to a strong 2021 season.”
After solidifying its race-winning presence in IMSA with production-based RX-2, RX-3, and RX-7 models, Mazda embarked upon its first prototype adventure in 1984 with Jim Downing in the GTP Lights category, where the twin-rotor 13B motor dominated endurance racing. A move to the top class in 1992 with the RX-792P GTP program yielded amazing sights and sounds for IMSA fans, but little in the way of success as the project folded at the end of the year.
Mazda prevailed at the dawn of IMSA’s new open-top World Sports Car formula in 1994 with Wayne Taylor, who captured the title in Downing’s latest Kudzu chassis, and while a number of Mazda-powered prototypes appeared through the end of the decade, the entries were often campaigned by privateers or with limited factory engagement.
Mazda made its official return to North American prototype racing in 2005 with an LMP2 effort in the American Le Mans Series. The early program evolved from a rotary-powered Courage chassis fielded by B-K Motorsports to a longstanding relationship with Advanced Engine Research that produced powerful four-cylinder turbos used by B-K, Dyson Racing, and SpeedSource Race Engineering.
The brand’s most recent Prototype championship was delivered by the Dyson team in 2011, where its Lola-Mazda effort secured the ALMS LMP1 title. More race wins followed in 2012 and 2013 before SpeedSource took the brand into the reformed IMSA series with a diesel-powered entry in 2014.
Two years of perseverance with the four-cylinder turbodiesels was met with a return to AER’s gasoline-fueled motors in 2016, which resulted in an immediate uptick in competitiveness. And with the new DPi regulations announced for 2017, Mazda contracted Multimatic to produce the stunning RT24-P, which was initially run by SpeedSource before the program was handed to Joest Racing in 2018. Hitting its stride in 2019 with the inclusion of Multimatic’s engineering services, the RT24-Ps won three consecutive races, and added two more in 2020 as the No. 55 entry finished third in the DPi championship.
Facing budget cuts, the two-car RT24-P program was halved for 2021, with Multimatic’s Harry Tincknell, and Mazda’s Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito retained to drive the No. 55 for the year. The trio qualified second and finished third in January in what would prove to be the factory’s last appearance at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Mazda’s decision to halt its prototype racing activities has been taken in isolation from its other involvements in the sport, with its grassroots and Idemitsu MX-5 Cup series left unaffected by the various DPi changes.
“Mazda is one of the winningest manufacturers in IMSA history, with more than 200 victories at the highest level of IMSA competition and the potential to add to that total through the balance of the 2021 WeatherTech Championship season,” noted IMSA President John Doonan, who prior to taking the helm of the IMSA organization in 2019 was was the architect of the Mazda program from 2005 on. “Mazda was the first to reveal its DPi race car, the RT24-P, which went on to win iconic events like the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen among other races, and along the way became a fan favorite. While we will miss seeing that beautiful prototype out on the racetrack, we look forward to our continued partnership as the sanctioning body for the Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires and the excitement that series will continue to provide for IMSA fans.”