- The 2014 Mazda 6 will become the first diesel-fueled car to race in the Rolex 24 endurance race at Daytona, Mazda announced Thursday.
- The Mazda 6 will be powered by a Skyactiv-D clean diesel engine and is being developed for the new Grand-Am GX class.
- Mazda says "this is not a pure race engine; it is a production block Skyactiv-D."
LOS ANGELES — The 2014 Mazda 6 will become the first diesel-fueled car to race in the Rolex 24 endurance race at Daytona, Mazda North American Operations announced Thursday.
The Mazda 6 will be powered by a Skyactiv-D clean diesel engine and is being developed for the new Grand-Am GX class.
Mazda says "this is not a pure race engine; it is a production block Skyactiv-D."
This announcement follows on the heels of confirmation from Mazda at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show that the production version of the 2014 Mazda 6 will feature an optional Skyactiv diesel engine.
The Mazda 6 with Skyactiv-D will be one of 13 models from 12 manufacturers in the new GX class that will be added to the Rolex Sports Car Series in 2013.
Mazda 6 was one of the first models declared eligible for the GX class, along with Lotus Evora GX and Porsche Cayman. The class will help nurture emerging technologies such as alternative fuels.
An artist's rendering of the car was displayed with the announcement.
"We have been eager to announce this car for months, but had to wait until the production car was revealed," said John Doonan, motorsports director for Mazda North America.
The GX racing version of the Mazda 6 is being developed by SpeedSource and Mazda engineers. Two factory entries are expected to compete at Daytona.
"We're happy to report that the engine is meeting the performance targets for both power and endurance," Doonan said. "That means 400-plus horsepower for over 50 hours, with an engine that includes a very long list of production Mazda parts."
Doonan emphasized that the 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine is not a purpose-built racing piece, but rather a production engine modified for racing.
"We're excited about having our newest engine powering our newest car," he said.
GX will join the Daytona Prototype and GT classes in events sanctioned by Grand-Am Road Racing in 2013, the last year before Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series merge in a single organization that has yet to be named.
Models eligible for GX besides the Mazda 6, Evora and Cayman include the Audi TT, BMW 1 Series, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus sedan, Hyundai Genesis, Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S, Nissan 370Z or Altima, and Volkswagen Eos.
Edmunds says: Mazda set sports car racing on its ear with its rotary-powered cars of the 1990s. Audi was the trailblazer with diesel power, but Mazda can carve out a niche for itself with the first diesel entry at Daytona.