Mazda looks set to enter the TCR ranks in 2020, with the build of a North American-developed Mazda3 race car reportedly nearly complete.
Auto Action reports that the Japanese manufacturer is finalizing plans for the program, which has yet to be announced, but likely to include participation in both IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge and SRO Motorsports America’s TC America divisions with customer teams.
Mazda has been out of IMSA’s Challenge series for the last two years, following Freedom Autosport’s decision to curtail its ST class MX-5 program at the end of the 2017 season.
As previously reported by Sportscar365, Mazda had been “continuing to pursue” a TCR project, although was dependent on the manufacturer’s production car cycle. It recently launched a refreshed Mazda3 for the 2019 model year (pictured above).
TCR boss Marcello Lotti, meanwhile, has indicated that new manufacturers are “preparing to develop new cars” for next year.
While focused on the North American market, the Mazda3 TCR car, per TCR regulations, must be made available for sale globally, and is expected to be at least represented in TCR Australia as well, according to Auto Action.
When reached by Sportscar365, a Mazda spokesperson said such a project is “still of interest and under evaluation” by the manufacturer but would not confirm its existence.
DPi Program “Long-Term Project” Despite Uncertainty for 2020
The Mazda spokesperson has also reiterated to Sportscar365 that its involvement in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s DPi class remains a “long-term project” despite a report of the manufacturer shifting its focus to TCR next year.
Sportscar365 understands that Mazda’s contract with Team Joest, which has yet to deliver a win in the DPi class, is up at the end of this year, although multiple teams, including Chip Ganassi Racing, have been in dialogue for 2020, should its program continue.
CGR has been waiting on a decision from Ford on whether it will enter the DPi ranks next year with a Multimatic-built prototype that’s understood to have been already in some state of development.