To prepare the 2014 U.S. launch of its all new and in some ways, radical SkyActiv-D diesel engine, Mazda is taking a page out of VW-Audi's diesel playbook: Use racing to prove the engine's durability and performance and to increase customer awareness of diesels’ benefits.
At a recent media event prior to the Detroit Grand Prix, Mazda Motorsports announced that it will supply racing versions of the 2.2-L SkyActiv-D to customer teams competing in the Grand-Am racing series’ new GX Class beginning with the 2013 season. The racing engine will use a stock aluminum, open-deck cylinder block and modified versions of the production diesel’s common-rail injection and two-stage turbocharging systems. Its maximum crankshaft speed is expected to exceed the production SkyActiv-D’s 5200 rpm.
The engines are being developed jointly by Mazda Motor Corp., Mazda North American Operations, and Florida-based SpeedSource Engineering which currently develops Mazda’s RX-8 Grand-Am race cars. Dyno testing has already begun and on-track testing begins 4Q12.
400-hp target with stock block
Mazda U.S. spokesman Tom McDonald told AEI that Motorsports engineers are targeting “around 400 horsepower” but explained that power and torque ratings will be determined when Grand-Am finalizes the GX series specifications later this year. The U.S.-based road racing organization added the new GX Class to feature cars and powertrain technologies not currently involved in its popular Rolex Series. It is developing rules for GX aimed at exploring a range of alternative fuels and engine technologies that could include clean diesels, hybrids, and fuels other than gasoline.
Mazda did not announce which car the racing diesel will power in the 2013 GX series. Jay Amestoy, Vice President of Mazda Motorsports North America, told the media gathering that the SkyActiv-D race engine will be “the most advanced and cleanest production-based powerplant the sport has ever seen.” John Doonan, Director of Mazda Motorsports, added that the diesel “will deliver outstanding performance and fuel economy coupled with the kind of quality, durability, and reliability needed to produce great street cars and win endurance races.”
The company’s North America CEO, Jim O’Sullivan, considers diesels to be a potential strategic differentiator for Mazda’s product portfolio. The first vehicle to receive SkyActiv-D power is expected to be the CX-5. The next-generation Mazda6 has been rumored to be another candidate for diesel power.
Advanced, high-speed diesels from Audi and Peugeot have won the ultimate prototype class in the 24 Hours of LeMans race every year since 2006, combining competitive output with superior fuel economy and remarkably quiet exhaust noise.
A low-compression, high-performance diesel
As detailed by AEI’s veteran Japan correspondent Jack Yamaguchi in the Feb. 1, 2011 issue (http://magazine.sae.org/11aeid0201), Mazda’s SkyActiv program is merging gasoline and diesel technologies to a considerable extent, including 14:1 compression ratios, along with some production tooling and manufacturing processes. Powertrain development boss Mitsuo Hitomi said the “ultimate goal” of the program is to create “the ideal ICE.”
The production version of SkyActiv-D is designed to comply with EU Stage 6, U.S. Tier 2 Bin 5, and Japan’s stringent Post New Long-Term Emission Standards without requiring selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and lean NOx traps (LNT). The race engine will likely run a particulate trap, experts noted. The next challenge for U.S. passenger vehicle diesels will be meeting the super-stringent LEV3 standards under proposal.