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March 2007
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The Lola-Mazda B07/40's shakedown occured this past weekend.  John Doonan sends these images along.  Lola's Sam Smith adds, "It completed 26 laps and the conditions were very wet at Snetterton."  At the moment the car is on its way to Sebring.
>>In July of 2006 Mazda circulated a Request For Quote to various engine builders regarding developments for the Mazda 3-rotor power plant in preparation for a renewed 2007 LMP2 campaign.  “[It] was our wish to see what the major engine builders (companies known as rotary specialists and companies known as non-rotary specialists) would propose for the next generation of rotary race powerplants that would compete in the current landscape of LMP2,” says John Doonan, Mazda’s Manager of Motorsports Team Development.  It is understood that the target numbers were something in the region of 550 hp and 450 lb-ft. of torque.  To meet those numbers clearly a turbo would have come into the picture.  But by early fall a second RFQ was sent out, this time the 3-rotor was out of the picture supplanted by a small capacity turbo inline-4.  Doonan again, “…we all agreed that we would focus our rotary development in Grand-Am GT and STAR MAZDA....and take a new approach (based on how the current rules looked for ALMS P2) and use new technology for 2007.”  By October an engine outfit had been chosen and work commenced on a new, from scratch, 2.0 liter turbo, direct injection, inline 4-cylinder engine.  “AER simply presented the complete picture of what we were asking for in the Request for Quotation process.”

According to AER’s Mike Lancaster, the new Mazda MZR-R engine wasn’t something already on AER’s drawing boards that Mazda laid claim to, “The MZR-R is totally new. It uses no parts from the P07 engine at all.”  The MZR-R will run a direct injection system sourced from Mazda’s production car line and which can be found in the Mazda6, CX-7, and Mazda3.  “When I say production, it will be the exact one used in production vehicles,” says Doonan.  Garret by Honeywell is the turbo partner and at this time there are no plans to pursue variable geometry turbos per the allowance in the revised 2007 ACO regulations, “We are simply going to come to the track in LMP 2 with a turbo program which aligns with our (Mazda) philosophy of sharing production based technology.”  Additionally, this ties in with the comments Mike Lancaster made to us in December regarding variable geometry turbos for gas engines; simply put, existing variable geometry turbos aren’t up to standard for the temperatures encountered in a gasoline powered racing engine.  So for now that technical hiccup aligns with Mazda’s commitment to race what they build.

Late in 2006 Marcus Haselgrove, B-K Motorsports’ Technical Director and Team Manager, admitted that the decision on chassis choice for ’07 had come down to two marques, Lola and Radical.  “Both companies have very good products and honestly it was a tough decision but unlike Honda we could only go with one manufacturer,” says Haselgrove.  John Doonan explains why, in the end, BK Motorsports went with Lola, “They reviewed the many options available and ultimately it came down to the ‘best’ package, the ability to work with the engine builder, the level of technology available, historical success, truly the ‘complete’ package.”

So there we have it, a B07/40 and new engine for the Mazda effort and 2007.  At the moment the entire BK Motorsports team is currently in the UK participating in the Lola B07/40-Mazda’s assembly.  Next week, March 4-5, the Mazda will have its first shakedown and test at Snetterton.  Following the test everything will be packed up for shipment straight to Sebring for its race debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17.

©Copyright 2007, Michael J. Fuller