IMSA’s DPi formula sounds great on paper. Allow manufactures to take one of the 4 ACO-FIA approved LMP2 chassis, put in their own engine and tailor the bodywork to suit their marketing strategy. The concept allows manufactures to race for overall wins on North America’s premier road courses without the immense cost of a WEC LMP1 program. It is a win – win. The fans get to see non-spec machinery with different engines and bodywork and the manufactures get to show off their stuff without spending a fortune. The lingering question hanging around the entire concept is how it would end up looking. A great concept on paper is one thing, the execution in the real world is quite another.
“The strategic vision of IMSA to give auto manufacturers this opportunity to integrate our branding, to better engage our passionate fans, is unique and we’re proud to be the first to unveil what is possible.” said Mazda Motorsports North America director John Doonan.
The anticipation is what caused the motorsport world turned its gaze onto Mazda. Mazda became the first manufacturer to officially launch their 2017 DPi contender. And if this is any indication on what is to come from Cadillac and Nissan, holy crap. The Mazda RT24-P looks fantastic. I personally thought the
DPi’s would look mostly like their parent chassis cars. Tweak some grill openings, change the headlights and throw a shit ton of branding on it and job done. It honestly doesn’t look like Mazda has followed this path. Granted the Riley Mk. 30 LMP2 chassis has yet to be publicly debuted but one look at the RT24-P is undoubtedly a Mazda. Mazda has managed to incorporate its KODO-Soul of Motion design philosophy from its road models. KODO has been a massive win for Mazda, not only making their cars stand out from the crowd but they look great too. Time will tell if the RT24-P goes as good as it looks. Your move Caddy and Nissan, Mazda has set the mark and you got your work cut out to try to match it.
“This is a huge moment for Mazda Motorsports and the entire Mazda family,” Doonan said. “To have a car which features Mazda design language at the top-level of our motorsports program is meaningful for us as a brand. We believe we have the right team, the right drivers and the right chassis to win races and championships.”
Mazda will keep its current partners from their existing prototype program. Speed Source will run the 2 car effort. In addition Mazda retains AER as an engine partner and the RT24-P will use an updated version of the MZ-2.0T engine which will could top out around 650 horsepower. It is believed that the 4 current full-season drivers, Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez, Joel Miller and Tom Long, will remain as well.
In addition to being the first of the manufactuers to officially unviel their 2017 contender, Mazda and their partners will be the first to officially test Riley’s Mk. 30 LMP2 chassis.
“Mazda has good, long-standing relationships with Riley and Multimatic, and is happy to be the first to test their new chassis,” Doonan said. “We look forward to seeing it make its racing debut at Daytona with Mazda bodywork and the Mazda MZ-2.0T engine.”
Mazda’s public on-track is likely to happen at the IMSA sanctioned test at Daytona December 13-14. The test is mandatory for all DPi manufacturers and LMP2 constructors. It is likely that we will get our first glimpse of the Nissan DPi at this test. Cadillac is expected to take the wraps off their car within the coming weeks.