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Mazda & B-K Motorsports drop Rotary Power for 2007 American LeMans LMP2 Prototype Racer
Submitted by Berny Herrera on Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - 10:54pm

-- New powertrain and chassis planned for 2007 --

IRVINE, Calif., January 11, 2007
Faced with increased competition in the American LeMans Series LMP2 category, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development and B-K Motorsports today announced they will partner with Advanced Engine Research Ltd (AER) and Lola Cars to develop an all-new Mazda-derived engine and purpose-built chassis for their 2007 championship effort. The goal is to improve on the 2006 result of third place in the American LeMans Series (ALMS) Championship for P2 cars, with an eye on the top step of the podium.

Ongoing Support of the American LeMans Series and IMSA
While Mazda has raced in many series across the country and around the world, most race fans think of endurance road racing and Mazda in the same sentence. Mazda thrives on innovation, and the American LeMans Series supplies a great challenge to our engineers and teams. Over the past two years we have enjoyed a number of successes in the P2 class and are looking forward to the increased competition in 2007, said Robert Davis, Senior VP, Product Development and Quality, Mazda North American Operations, and the man responsible for the companys North American motorsports programs.

All New MZR-R Engine
MAZDASPEED engineers in the U.S. and Japan, in conjunction with U.K. based Advanced Engine Research Ltd (AER), will debut an all-new MZR-R prototype engine at the 2007 12 Hours of Sebring. The new engine, a clean sheet design, is a turbocharged 2.0 liter in-line four cylinder. The performance goals for the engine are 500hp and 400 lb-ft, with the durability to succeed in such grueling races as the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 10-hour Petit Le Mans. The engineering team is working to incorporate the production-based Mazda Direct Injection Spark Ignition (DISI) system into the race motor. The technical collaboration between Mazda and AER has been non-stop in preparation for the season-opener at Sebring.



MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Manager Steve Sanders stated, Given the rules package, we needed to make a radical change to be able to match the competition. The current conditions and rules simply do not allow our rotary engine to have any competitive advantage, hence the move to piston power this season.

Sanders continued, The Mazda and AER engineers are working closely with Honeywell Turbo Technologies on the development of a new Garrett motorsports turbocharger design for this engine program. The overall LMP2 program is driven by Mazda engineering, as we use motorsports to help develop future advanced technologies with the potential to transfer over to our production vehicles.



Mazda remains firmly committed to the rotary engine, in the street-going RX-8 four-door sportscar and racing classes like Grand Am GT and the one-make professional Star Mazda formula car series.

While the new engine will be exclusive to B-K Motorsports in 2007, the long-term goal is to add teams in both the American Le Mans Series as well as the Le Mans Endurance Series in Europe in 2008.

All New Chassis from Lola
B-K Motorsports will replace their existing Courage C65 with an-all new Lola B07/40. The team will complete the car in February just prior to Sebring. The partnership between Mazda, Lola, AER, Honeywell/Garrett, Kumho Tires, and many other suppliers on this project has been excellent, said Marcus Haselgrove, B-K Motorsports Team Manager. Jointly developing race and road car technology with the MZR-R is what sportscar racing is about. We hope to be competitive from round one, but the P2 competition will be the toughest in ALMS history.



2007 Driver line-up to feature Star Mazda Alumni
B-K Motorsports will field an international driver line-up with American Jamie Bach and Englishman Ben Devlin running the entire season. Brazilian Raphael Matos will join the team for Sebring as well as the Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta.

Bach will return for his third season with B-K Motorsports. He was the 2005 Co-Rookie of the Year in P2, winning one race. In 2006, Bach scored one podium finish as he helped the team to third place in the team championship. He is a graduate of the Star Mazda series and of the Skip Barber Racing School.

Devlin, from the UK, has extensive experience in chassis development. He has been running in the LMP2 (P675) category since 2001, notching up two race wins in 2002. He made his American racing debut in a Formula Mazda race.

Matos, a past champion in both the Skip Barber Racing Series (2003) and the Star Mazda Series, will be spending the bulk of his 2007 season chasing the Cooper Tires Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, but will join the B-K team in the two endurance races (Sebring and Petit Le Mans).

The team expects to announce a new primary sponsor prior to the Sebring race, but is pleased that Road & Track will be returning as an associate sponsor. Additional support is coming from ASG, Sparco, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

The 12 race 2007 American LeMans Series will kick-off with the 55th annual 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17th, and conclude with the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 20th.

On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. At the track, youll see MX-5 Miata, RX-8, MAZDA3, MAZDA6, RX-7 and other vintage Mazda models competing, because every Mazda has the Soul of a Sports Car. In fact, the fastest growing road-racing class in the U.S. is the SCCAs Spec Miata class, with nearly 1,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up Americas racetracks, making it the most-raced production car in the world. Mazdas involvement in motorsports extends to its relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the worlds premier road-racing circuits, and the Skip Barber Schools for driving and racing.

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations 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, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.


For more information on team partners and the series, visit
www.aerltd.com
www.lola-group.com
www.turbobygarrett.com
www.kumhousa.com
www.roadandtrack.com
www.americanlemans.com

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subject:
Another nail in the coffin
author:
date:
January 16, 2007 - 10:57pm
Its a shame that the rotary engine is now dropped from ALMS. Not banned as is usually the case but dropped by choice from Mazda.

As I watch the new concept & racing Mazda's come forth missing rotary power in the last years (stark contrast to previous years), the cancellation of the rotary engine program must be creeping ever nearer.

I really do hope I am wrong but the signs are appearing on the walls.

On another note. Now that Mazda have gone piston powered, they are now "just another entrant making up the numbers". Like many others, my interest in & the following of ALMS is now over.

Sigh!!
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subject:
When a company turns their ba
author:
date:
January 11, 2007 - 7:34pm
When a company turns their back on tradition and heritage, that doesn't speak much for them. I know people say that the rotary is alive and well at Mazda and that we've still got a rotary in GT. So what? How much exposure does that really get compared to the ALMS? As a rotary fan I have a hard time seeing those races anywhere and I know where to look. There's no outside PR in that. Yes we have the cool Formula Mazda cars. I like them but again that's not much of a PR thing by comparison. They are all the same cars. Ford has their series like this and so does BMW. Big deal. It's just another class of small race cars and most people don't pay much attention to them. Half of the people that do don't have any clue what they're powered by anyways. If a rotary wins, it's supposed to! That's all that can win! What's so special about that?

Now the rotary is being pulled from the top level of racing that it has been a part of for a long time now. After class wins at the 24 hours and an outright win in 91 (and it wasn't in the top class then either!), the rotary is being discarded most uncerimoniously in favor of a generic replacement that everyone else has. Wow let me just say how impressed I am with that. Sure it's a good proven engine but others have it too. Let's not kid ourselves, it's a standard AER engine with a Mazda DISI head on it. I guess it can be argued that this is where most of piston engine technology lies but then again Audi had direct injection in a gasoline racing engine for something like 7 or 8 years now. Mazda you're slow. This time it's not only on the track though. When all else fails (or at least the competence and ability of your race team), copy someone else! That's the ticket for PR purposes apparently. With greater competition this season in LMP2, I guess that's the best shot. If you can't beat them, copy them and hope you can at least keep up. I think even with this new route the competition will be much harder than BK thinks it will be. With Honda in the game it's going to be a very uphill battle. They are an engine company themselves. Mazda always has been. At least until they abandoned their heritage of racing rotaries. Now they are nothing more than funding.

It's complete crap that the rotary can't be competitive. With the rotary technology out there right now, it could be. The team running it just couldn't be competitive with it. Where does the problem really lie? Running a car for 2 years well overweight and not even exploiting the rules to their max when it comes to the engine you can use sure doesn't seem like a very good attempt at making something work and definitely no reason to blame the engine. Blame the team. People have been racing rotaries without overheating for decades now with fewer issues than BK has ever had. Does that sound like a team issue or an engine issue? Why did it take 2 years to figure out water pump cavitation issues? Why couldn't you get the weight issues taken care of?

All of these things combine to show team incompetence or at the very least bad decision making in team progress and development. There was no learning curve the past 2 years. It was a waste of time. Nothing remains of all that was learned then other than the fact that paying someone else to do it for you may work better. Weird considering they don't seem to have a bit budget. Even if you run a new car and engine comparable to the competition, you still have to have a team that can win. Honda and the others are going to be very organized and on their game. If BK doesn't change their ways from the past 2 years in the way they do things, the best car in the world won't help them.

I'm disappointed in Mazda for this to say the least. I am a die hard rotary fan and always have been. It's been the sole reason I've owned Mazdas. They were never afraid to try and were not afraid to do what it takes to succeed with a rotary. At least not until now. I was right on one thing a year ago. I was criticized for saying a hydrogen rotary would never happen in LMP2 and I stated this after talking with BK. I was right! It's a crap fuel anyways. This brings me to another point. Mazda turns their back on the rotary in ALMS and their only new rotary efforts lately aside from the RX-8 have been with hydrogen. If that's the next generation of rotary engine, let the concept die so at least my memories of the engine will be fond. Stop making the rotary into an environmental PR toy and keep it doing what it was always intended to do and did well.

Mazda seems to have a Ford mentality lately. Worry about PR and forget your roots that got you there. I for one will no longer support or cheer on Mazda in ALMS. I will attend a race and watch it on TV but no longer will I support their effort in it. I'll be watching the diesel LMP1 cars go by. That's the closest thing I can get to an "alternative" engine style right now. If anything, I'll get a good laugh everytime someone laps Mazda now. Good going guys! I may sound overly harsh with Mazda but they used to have and hold themselves to a higher standard when it came to racing and rotaries. I'm saddened that they have changed that. I always though pride and heritage were important to the Japanese. I guess that's not true anymore either.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, go piston!
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subject:
A Mazda race car needs a rotary
author:
date:
January 11, 2007 - 6:56pm
It was 1991 when the 787B won the 24Hr Le Mans, a year after, the engine was banned, fine, that was acceptable to switch to piston power in 1992.

Please do not give up the rotary engine when Mazda fought so hard to get the victory more than a decade ago with this unique engine. The RE represents Mazda in racing. The turbo four is more AER than Mazda. I will miss the rotary roar.

A MazdaUSA PR effort is not enough to drive a successful racing program at this level of racing. We need Mazda corporate(Japan) and please do not use racing for advertising, instead use it to develop new technologies. (i.e. Side Port Rotaries)

I hope the rotary returns to top level of endurance racing/ racing soon.
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subject:
A Mazda that is not a Mazda?
author:
date:
January 11, 2007 - 6:45pm
With the wide range of rumors that have been circulating over the past few months, this announcement is one that I did not want to believe. When a Mazda is associated with racing, I think rotary. The announcement and development with AER, is billed as research for future development. This isn’t even a Mazda engine, just the standard AER engine, with a possible Mazda head and name plate stamping. You need to reach a market for the rotary engine. All this will show is that Mazda gave up on the rotary engine. How does this look on your one product that features the engine? A turbo 2 rotor Renesis would have been great and could have been R/D for a possible Mazdaspeed RX8. A well developed 3/4 Rotor engine would have been great to develop for other future racing applications. I feel the rotary engine was faulted for the performance of a bloated car and a team that didn’t know how to maintain it.

Mazda will receive my cheer in pastime as my full attention will be placed on the rotaries in Grand Am. I just hope Mazda can get it's identity back and stop with the blatant marketing campaign. Even so, success for Mazda is success for all. I just wont like the trip there.
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subject:
Not an AER rebadge
author:
date:
January 12, 2007 - 2:50am
This is an email from Mike Lancaster of AER sent to Mulsannemike of Mulsanne's Corner:

"The MZR-R is totally new. It uses no parts from the P07 engine at all. The new engine is very advanced and will be markedly lighter than before with better performance. The direct injection system is being developed jointly with Mazda as is many aspects of the engine (we will phase this development in according to Mazda schedules and our own testing program)."
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subject:
Call it what you want but...
author:
date:
January 17, 2007 - 12:13am
Here's an interesting tidbit I came across on the internet:

Mike Lancaster of AER was delighted to be able to talk about the new Mazda MZR-R engine at last. Oliver Allan referred to the engine as “half of the V8”, rather than a relation of the company’s four cylinder engine which has been around since 2001.

Here are the details of the AER P32 V8:

http://www.mulsannescorner.com/aerturbolmp1v8.html

Here are a couple of interesting highlights:

Details: direct fuel injection...

Then it says:

At this time the direct injection feature has not been implemented though the cylinder heads have been designed from the start anticipating this feature.

Interesting to say the least. AER has basically taken their V8 engine, cut it in half and is basically branding it as a MZR-R. Where's the Mazda technology coming into play if AER already has an engine that is designed for DI that it is basing this new one off of? Of course this is a new engine. It's a half of the V8 and not their I4. That's not the same engine and that's not a lie but the truth is a bit exagerrated. It's half of an existing engine with the DI feature working. We are being led to believe that it is a brand new clean sheet of paper design as a collaboration between AER and Mazda when it's nothing more than a part of a current engine. Sure it's a new engine but let's at least be honest about it's origins.
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subject:
WRONG NAME
author:
date:
January 17, 2007 - 9:53am
To have this car representing Mazda is insane. It would
be the equivalent of calling a Cosworth Vega a Ford.
With all the racing Mazda does this is an insult to our
intelligence.
What has bothered me for two years now is,
"How can Haskell and Tremblay be so successful and B-K
be such a backmarker?" (Please don't come back with podium
finishes, sometimes there were only three cars in the LMP2 class.)
If you've seen the results of the testing at Daytona for the GT class,
there are 3 out of 4 RX-8's capable of walking away with the 24 HRs of
Daytona win; the Goldin brothers are there with a dream but hardly a chance.
I say it's safe to say there's going to be at least two RX-8s in the overall
top ten as well as one in the overall top 5.
I watched this Speedsource GT last year and it was quick (only weighing
2200 pounds compared to the Pontiac's 2600 lbs.) but with the formula
they use in GT, the cars were damn near equal on the track.
The B-K Mazda was only turning lap times as quick as the StarMazda
two rotor cars. Does anybody know how that was possible?
In short, maybe it's a good thing the LMP2 "Mazda" doesn't represent
the road racing advantages of the rotary.
Now let's focus on Daytona, get your beer ready.
P.S. Some of us have only owned Mazdas with rotaries: You can buy
a piston engine from anybody.
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