LMP3 Engines to be Unbadged; Mazda Support Continues in Series

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Mazda’s John Doonan believes the addition of LMP3 cars to the newly renamed IMSA Prototype Challenge powered by Mazda series will help raise the profile of the prototype development series, despite no involvement from the Japanese manufacturer in the PC1 class.

LMP3 machinery will remain with the ACO’s global-spec Nissan-based V8 engine, although unbranded, with Mazda’s MZR engine continuing to power the Elan DP02 cars, which will compete under the PC2 class beginning next year.

“I think Mazda’s involvement in Prototype Lites and now Prototype Challenge is being aligned for our strategy,” Doonan told Sportscar365. “Having Mazda power in the PC2 cars, we have a very successful package there. All of the teams that are in PC2 have built a nice little business around it.

“The LMP3 formula is actually quite good. We haven’t been able to play there because of the spec engine globally. But I do think it will raise the professionalism of that series.”

Doonan, who initially proposed utilizing Mazda’s 2.0-liter turbocharged MZR-R Indy Lights engine for the LMP3 platform in IMSA, said there was no consideration of badging the global LMP3 engine for the series as a Mazda.

“Not just because it’s officially another manufacturer’s engine,” he said. “Some could say the prototype we run in the WeatherTech [Championship] is a badging exercise.

“But we said for sure, from the beginning back in ’07 when we launched that [engine] program that it was not a badging exercise because we’ve had Mazda engineers working with AER engineers. It’s a different deal.

“We didn’t want to go that route [for LMP3]. I had hoped to put the Indy Lights motor in that car but it just didn’t work out from a costs standpoint.”

While under a new name, the PC2 class will continue to receive the same level of support from Mazda, which currently features its scholarship program as part of the “Mazda Road to 24” program that has put Prototype Lites champions into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“It’s been a talent factory, when you look at Kenton Koch, Mikhail Goikhberg or Tristan Nunez or now Austin Versteeg and Clark Toppe, these kids that some day, and want to be in the WeatherTech Championship or top-level sports cars,” Doonan said of Mazda Prototype Lites.

“That’s why we make that investment. As long as we can maintain Mazda power, we’ll stay there.”

While currently averaging 20 L1 cars, the series is expected to grow in car count thanks due to the new LMP3 machinery.

Multiple teams, including Prototype Lites stalwarts JDC-Miller Motorsports have already confirmed orders for next year, with new and existing teams evaluating the purchase of LMP3 cars as well.

6 Comments

  1. el_gordo

    August 8, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    The generic motors should save the teams money, and I just checked ebay you can buy a used Nissan badge for $11.75.

  2. Mike S.

    August 8, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Hate to say it but more intrigued by sound of PC1 with normally aspirated V8 than I am of the P2’s with the turbo 6’s and 8 from Honda and Nissan.

    • Brent

      August 8, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      Mike S.

      You do know the P3 engine is a Nissan engine very similar to the V8 Nissan in P2 which isn’t turbocharged. Spec Gibson for next year is a V8 I believe

      • Mike S

        August 9, 2016 at 1:59 am

        Does it sound like this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTYougGxdpg
        If so I will take the normally aspirated V8 Nissan over the muted turbo Nissan V8 and watch and go listen to this over p2’s everyday of the week.

        • Jack C Coffey

          October 29, 2016 at 4:22 pm

          nissan isnt turbo

  3. 996corsa

    August 8, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    ORECA has the ACO contract to supply the spec “Nissan” V-8’s used in LMP3 for ELMS.
    I gather that will continue for the IMSA P3’s, which is probably good from a cost standpoint. Having a globally compatible car offers teams and drivers the option of running these cars in multiple series, that seems like a plus too. It was also mentioned in the IMSA announcement coverage that a tender for engine building services in the US for those ORECA spec motors would likely be forthcoming.
    On the other hand, I had hoped the Katech Chevy LS based package from the IMSA PC car might have made it’s way into the P3 over here. Ginetta has done basically this with their G57, looks to be quite a potent package. The Katech PC package was very successful, as have been similar efforts for other series done by vendors like Ilmor & ECR. They sound great too 🙂

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