Mazda’s entry into the TCR ranks has been delayed by a year due to “unforeseen issues” in the development of the Mazda3 TCR racer, according to its motorsports director Nelson Cosgrove.
The Japanese manufacturer, which announced in October plans for the Long Road Racing-built TCR car to debut in 2020, has seen the timeframe pushed back by several months.
“The TCR car in its development had some pretty serious development challenges that were unforeseen by the group doing the engineering on it,” Cosgrove told Sportscar365.
“The suspension needed to be developed and there were some delays in getting the powertrain going.
“That really set the program back quite a ways.
“TCR is hard. The car needs to go through a complete test program; there’s no way around that. If we’re going to sell these cars to customers, it needs to be something we’re really happy with and really proud of.
“Because of that, we’re going to continue to develop the car, and do a lot of testing.
“We’re going to do some endurance testing. That will take place over the next year.”
Drivers have not been named for testing program although Cosgrove said he’d like to involve Brian Ortiz, whose championship in the 2019 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich series awarded him a full-season seat in the Mazda3 TCR for 2020.
Longtime Mazda driver Tom Long as well as the manufacturer’s DPi drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez could also be in the mix for the car’s development program.
Cosgrove confirmed the cars will not be built, as originally intended, by Long Road Racing, which has wound down its company over the winter months, with Mazda working on a new partner that will be announced at a later date.
He admitted the car’s build and homologation needs to be done in a “proper way”.
“They’re like little GT3 cars,” he said. “They’re front-wheel drive, have an ABS system it. From my past life, there’s a lot that goes into that. You have to tune TC and it’s a paddle-shift car.
“There’s a whole lot of stuff you have to spend the days and time to do it.
“I think the car from what it is and the parts that have been chosen and how the systems are laid out is quite nice. It just needs to be run and developed.”
Cosgrove confirmed the car will utilize a Volkswagen-built two-liter four cylinder turbo engine instead of opting for a bespoke powerplant, which is allowed in the TCR regulations.
The same Volkswagen EA888 2.0 R4 TSI I4 engine is utilized in the Audi RS 3 LMS TCR as well as the Seat Leon and Cupra Leon TCR cars in Europe and is offered to manufacturers in lieu of developing their own powerplant.
End-of-Year Debut Not Ruled Out
Cosgrove hasn’t ruled out an end-of-year debut for the car, potentially in Michelin Pilot Challenge competition, should they feel confident enough in its development at that time.
“Certain cars have run on temporary homologations,” he explained. “It’s possible to do it.
“If everything went great and we decided to fund an activity at the end of the year, it would be awesome. But that’s not really in the plan right now.”
Mazda is expected to become the fifth different TCR manufacturer eligible in Pilot Challenge, joining Audi, Alfa Romeo, Hyundai and Honda.