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BMW Hits Trouble; Mazda Packs Up Early in Second Day of Sebring Test

No. 25 BMW M8 GTE crashes; Mazda packs up early in second day of Sebring Test…

Photo: Sebring International Raceway

The second and final day of testing for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors on Friday saw action on and off the track, with one of the new BMW M8 GTEs suffering a crash and neither Mazda RT24-P turning laps after packing up early.

As was the case in Thursday’s activities, lap times were not officially recorded or released.

An accident for the No. 25 BMW in Turn 17 (pictured above) halted on-track activity, with the car reportedly sustaining moderate damage with the impact into the barriers.

The final three-hour session in the afternoon, meanwhile, was briefly halted for the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi of Pipo Derani, which stopped on track and needed a tow back to the pits.

Friday’s action came without Mazda Team Joest, which packed up on Thursday afternoon, prior to the night session, following an engine-related failure for its No. 55 Mazda of Harry Tincknell.

It’s understood the team’s No. 77 car had successfully completed its separate test plan, focused on development of Continental’s new tire, and was not pulled as a direct result of the sister car’s issue.

Both of the updated Mazdas had struggled with reliability issues in last month’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

WeatherTech Championship teams will return to the Florida airfield circuit next month for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, with practice set to get underway on Thurs. March 15.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. southcove

    February 23, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    You have to wonder if even Joest can pull Mazda back into contention. Is it more the engine at this point or the chassis or just like the other non-performing DPi’s a bit of both…

    • DEJ

      February 24, 2018 at 10:07 am

      I still feel Donnan is the lord almighty at Mazda. Joest is just a figure head an is not considered. He will leave soon .

  2. Matt

    February 23, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    Cmon Mazda (/Joest)!
    Lift ya game

  3. Steven

    February 23, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Wouldn’t surprise me to see Mazda pull the plug at the end of the year if this keeps happening. Joest was brought in to try and save the program and it doesn’t even look like they can.

    • TailsLeMans722

      February 24, 2018 at 5:01 am

      I asked about this in DS a few weeks ago, comparing the situation to that of McLaren-Honda.

      It may be a bit too early to judge but it looks like I might be right after all and history may be repeating itself.

  4. VanillaChinchilla

    February 23, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I don’t see Joest saving this one, the car just isn’t there, was a shame they never got that win in the last year with their P2 once they ditched the diesel, came close a few times. The DPi is just clearly off the mark and with the rules there’s really not enough room for Joest to work their magic and develop it. they should do a GT that way they can just get BoP’d into contention like BMW. RX-9 anyone???

  5. Greg

    February 23, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Mazda needs to punt that 2l turbo and fast. That thing just can’t make reliable power to compete with the other powerplants.

  6. David Chaste

    February 23, 2018 at 9:10 pm

    With the money they used to hire joest they could have kept speedsource on and just commisioned a whole new engine from a builder besides aer. Roush, cosworth, judd etc, or built their own.

    But speedsource couldnt win a race with the fast lola gas engines. Faulty strategy. But Shank with a bronze driver and an aging pro managed the feat in back to back seasons.

  7. TF110

    February 24, 2018 at 1:30 am

    Mazda needs to start anew. Just drop the Riley and that AER, go to Ligier, Dallara or Oreca or just quit until the next rule phase. Maybe IMSA will let them use a non-fia approved chassis. They can’t continue with the way things are going. It’s not just a waste of money but it could hurt their image.

    • TailsLeMans722

      February 24, 2018 at 5:14 am

      Maybe what IMSA should do is drop BoP and just award extra concessions (Such a unlimited testing and more engine development) to new and struggling Manufacturers, such as Mazda and BMW, Just like MotoGP.

      • Slicks in the wet

        February 24, 2018 at 5:48 am

        Do you think any challengers would be able to best an unrestricted Dallara/Cadillac, even with unlimited testing and powertrain evolutions?

        I kinda think all their backers have already outlayed all the cash they want to put up and would effectively limit raising the bar to Caddy level.

        • Jack

          February 24, 2018 at 9:31 pm

          Am unrestricted Acura or Nissan would likely kill the caddies. You could push 1000+ out of those cars.

          • John Martin

            February 25, 2018 at 3:00 pm

            The 5.5 Liter Katech OHV V8, in the C6 produced over 1100hp in unrestricted testing in 2011.

    • JG

      February 25, 2018 at 7:33 pm

      Mazda, along with Cadillac are the only halfway decent looking cars out there. I’ve said this a 1000 times but the FIA/ACO needs to get rid of the mandatory wheel arch cutouts, go back to 2000 mm car width and get rid of the idiotic big honking fin. I watch prototype racing for the cars, period. Until they get rid of the “uglifying” rule set they have (which has done nothing to either slow the cars down or make them “safer”), they can count me out. Thanks a lot for ruining prototype racing.

  8. The Brad

    February 24, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Out with the 2L Turbo, in with a 4 rotor. You know you want to Mazda.

    • punisher

      February 24, 2018 at 8:03 am


  9. Slicks in the wet

    February 24, 2018 at 4:50 am

    Mazda….rebadge the “650” hp P1 Mechachrome!!!

    Or rotor this damn thing. Anyone who knows what a rotor is, knows your AER is not really a Mazda factory engine anyway. Anyone who doesnt know what a rotor is, doesnt know who AER is and doesnt care. They’ll see–and hear–you winning instead.

  10. Dan

    February 24, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Is the current 2L turbo motor in the Mazda built up by AER from an existing four cylinder block in Mazda’s street car lineup or is it a one-off, bespoke racing motor provided by AER and just badged Mazda?

    Just asking. I really don’t know the pedigree of their motor.

    • Matt Lewis

      February 24, 2018 at 10:42 am

      I5s never been a street based engine, it originated in the MG Lola a decade or so ago in the ALMS. It was a decent engine at the time but such is the rate progress that now they’re trying to extract too much from it. It’s a tired old design that needs to go.

      • Slicks in the wet

        February 24, 2018 at 10:50 am

        The current one is actually like the fifth evolution from the 2006ish MZR-R.

        It’s fully bespoke. When they made it for Dyson they hoped the hoped the MZR-R technology could be applied to the then current Mazda MZ-R factory engine architecture.

        That never happened though.

    • j_c

      February 24, 2018 at 11:49 am

      It’s based on half of AER’s P32T V8 that was made for an LMP1.

  11. Av

    February 24, 2018 at 7:28 am

    The question that needs to be asked and answered is: what is the reason why Mazda continues to use AER as their engine supplier?

  12. Steve

    February 24, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Any of you who think a 2.0 litre engine can’t be competitive need to learn a little history.

    • Matthew

      February 24, 2018 at 10:46 am

      You can’t compare the Eagles to this car, those things ran so rich they looked like diesels when they matted the gas. Different era all together. Nobody is saying a four pot can’t work, it’s just this one in particular has seen better days and needs to be retired.

    • j_c

      February 24, 2018 at 11:55 am

      AAR did some tomfoolery with the fuel:

      Seeing as how even fueling times are being BoP’ed, I don’t think that will go well nowadays.

      • DEJ

        February 25, 2018 at 10:02 am

        Interesting article about Fuel. Explains the reason for a spec fuel. But I would not expect some dopeing even today.

  13. Rick Matzho

    February 24, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    Went to Thursday’s test day and were treated as second class citizens. Last year we were able to go into the paddock, but this year we were locked out by NASCAR/IMSA. There were maybe 50 people on the so-called “Midway” which was outside the track from turn 13 to the hairpin. When Dr. Panoz purchased the track and series, his goal was to make it fan friendly. NASCAR/IMSA has ruined the race with to over use of full course yellows and stacking pit stops, has now ruined it for the fans who also enjoy knowing the technology used in the cars. NASCAR has ruined AMA racing and is succeeding to drive away sports cars fans. Thank god for the WEV and the PEC.

    • George 917-30

      February 24, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      I’m looking forward to next year’s combined race, but fear that the paddock access will be restricted due to the WEC.

    • Jeff Wagner

      February 24, 2018 at 9:30 pm

      A LOT of things will NEVER EVER be the same again like they were in the days of our beloved A.L.M.S., and our LOVE and admiration for Don Panoz for doing things like SAVING Mosport “Canada’s Home Of Motorsports” for MANY people including my Father and I to continue to attend EVERY Pro event will NEVER be forgotten!!! However, a merger/buy-out HAD to happen and had to happen THEN and THEN! Both series the A.L.M.S. and Sportscar Racing’s version of the I.R.L. the Grand-Am were both 3/4 dead but in different ways. The A.L.M.S. had 95+% (and WHY NASCAR wanted a buy-out to capture those assets) of the Fan base, Manufacturers, Sponsors, etc, but the A.L.M.S. Prototype numbers were pitiful as the economy had tanked. Compared to Grand-Am, it had next to NONE of that, it had D.P. “Poser Prototypes” that were unsafe, not near as inexpensive as promised (even with the series forking out $$$ to help), their numbers dwindling, and they were not much more technologically advanced or much quicker than the Model “T” Ford, and not much more exciting or better looking than the Ford Edsel.
      However having said what I did, YOU and us all MUST be thankful to NASCAR for the buy-out as I don’t think anybody being serious would argue we would not be completely without Sportscar Racing in North America right now had the buy-out not happened. We are just VERY VERY VERY lucky former A.L.M.S. staff like Scott Atherton have been able to talk some sense into their thick skulls and been respected enough to be able to right MOST of the COMPLETE UNPROFESSIONAL BUSH LEAGUE Grand-Am STUPIDITY so far, like FINALLY being on respected Sportscar Racing Tires in 2019!

    • DEJ

      February 25, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Yes I know. Asked about tickets for COTA,asked about paddock passes . They said none available and I could join the track walk. Seems you have tone an Insider to get near the cars.

    • Andy Flinn

      February 25, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Rick, lighten up, Francis.

      This is a private TEST session – not a public race event.

      In a few weeks, you’ll have several days to wander around the paddock and lament how much better Sebring was in 20O9 with 29 entries and 26 starters before “NASCAR/IMSA” got involved.

      Ironically, if it wasn’t for NASCAR financial backing for John Bishop’s IMSA and promotional support (from John Greenwood who had very successfully promoted a stock car event at Michigan International Speedway) encouraged by Bill France, Sr., in the ’70s, today there wouldn’t be any 12 Hours of Sebring race.

      If you don’t believe me check out the Sebring Hall of Fame.

  14. Green Day-75

    February 24, 2018 at 1:43 pm


    Without NASCAR, IMSA and the ALMS would be a footnote in history. But please, let your strange anger over a TEST session cloud that.

    Also. Mr Panoz has to be one of the worst businessman anyway when it comes down to it.

    WEC fucking sucks outside Le Mans. PEC…PWC?? Yeah, PWC…is a fun sprint series. But not even close to the openness or fairness you seem to crave when it comes to fans or rules.

    ***rabble rabble I hate change rabble rabble why isn’t it 1984!***

    • Keith

      February 26, 2018 at 9:17 am

      I think you have that the other way around. Grand Am was dying a slow death.

      • Green Day-75

        February 26, 2018 at 4:04 pm

        IMSA was not doing well either. Two P2 cars masquerading as P1, a couple open top cars and half a field of Porsche Cup cars was pretty bad.

      • Andy Flinn

        February 26, 2018 at 5:19 pm

        Keith, Don sold the ALMS to NASCAR after Audi pulled the plug on their full-season P1 program and the WEC decided they’d rather try to establish their own identity at CoTA (they failed) instead of racing with the ALMS at Sebring.

  15. Steve Johnson

    February 24, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    At this point why doesn’t Mazda try there new engine technology.

    It cant’t be any worse than what they have now!!!

    • John Martin

      February 25, 2018 at 3:08 pm

      The Skyactive compression ignition engine, is designed for efficiency and not to produce gobs of power.

  16. Tyler Sanders

    February 24, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    This Mazda DPi is such a POS.

  17. Tony R

    February 24, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Mazda should have just run and slightly altered in appearance Oreca and called it a Mazda DPi. A complete chassis build up from scratch required way more design and testing R&D than Riley/Multimatic were able to do. The engine is not the issue IMO. Heat plagued the effort in 2017 and continues to be a problem this year apparently.

  18. Kirk

    February 25, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    Maybe Mazda should forego the endurance races and just run the sprints. Maybe with enough Super Glue and Band-Aids they can keep one of those hand grenades running for a couple hours.

  19. Nineteen K. Rpm

    February 26, 2018 at 3:25 am

    Does anyone have insights or clarity on the ability of Mazda’s ability to allow Team Joest to select/develop a different (or revamped 4-cylinder turbo), or ANY other engine of their liking (another cool diesel, a Wankel, a V8, V6TT, etc.)?? It is my understanding that since this is a DPi – Mazda is allowed to select something other than a Gibson V8.

    It seems like if they went to the expense of creating a stunning DPi, they should be allowed to run ANY engine they choose. Or try 2-3 different engines until they get this right.

    Wouldn’t be interesting to let the manufactures duke it out in a “competitive and innovative landscape?” You would be free to to be as amazing as you wish!

    • Slicks in the wet

      February 26, 2018 at 8:15 am

      I think they have Joest running pitstops and strategy within context of the car, engine, and supplies MazdaUSA gives them.

      It feels like the reigns were not fully turned over.

      It’s been painfully obvious for YEARS what the real weak link is. It’s the lump that turns dead dinosaurs into noise.

    • Tony R

      February 27, 2018 at 1:36 am

      The idea was to develop and run something that resembled their (Mazda’s) Kodo design philosophy. To this end they were successful in creating a very aesthetically pleasing prototype. Unfortunately the issues lie under the “skin.” It required a total revamp and premature end to last season. Clearly they’re not as far along as they may have thought.

      As for the engine, the 2.0L turbo is relevant in terms of what they produce for the street. V6 or V8 technology wouldn’t apply. I don’t think it’s the motor that’s the issue although turbo charging has more heat to contend with. Just my 2 cents.

  20. Matt

    February 26, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Does Mazda not have any v6 engines they can run? Surely they would be a better choice… or why not use the lmp1 aer engine?

  21. Jeremy

    February 26, 2018 at 9:35 am

    As a true to my core mazda fan. Its becoming increasingly difficult to have any sort of faith in this car capturing even another podium. With all the accolades and awards Mazda gets for their roadcars “incredible drivability” and “Skyactiv” technologies, I find it hard to believe they cant develop another powerplant for this car. Say the 2.5t skyactiv found in the cx9/6. Or make a one off powerplant for this race car say a v6 twin turbo. Honda has done it with their DPi. Given the way all the manufactures have stretched the rules or asked for special concessions in IMSA as of lately. I don’t see why Mazda cant hit the drawing board again with a new engine for this chassis. Headlines of failed AER engines are becoming all to common

    • Tony R

      February 27, 2018 at 1:43 am

      Jeremy, I hope the commitment is there from Mazda to allow Joest to go in a different direction engine wise if they need to. And hopefully they have a plan for resolving the exhaust temp issue before Sebring assuming that’s part of the problem. It would be great to see them bring a turbo 6 into the line up.

  22. SpeedsourceFan

    February 26, 2018 at 10:42 am

    BTW, speaking of Mazda, what is Syl and Dave up to these days?

  23. jeremy

    February 26, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Speedsource has closed its doors, liquidated its assets and is now a part of history.

  24. fourloko

    February 26, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    The mazda lasted longer than 12 hours during the daytona 24h right? as long as they throw a fresh one in it shouldnt blow up during the race. and granted that sebring is less WOT than daytona

    • Slicks in the wet

      February 26, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Same last year. Pretty sure they hit 8+ hours of no issue? How many sprints did they fail at?

      I hold no hope anymore.

      It’s like taking the water out of the ocean with a mesh bucket.

  25. Mazda Greg

    February 26, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    I’m still trying to clean up the vomit all over my clothes after the test session. Its goint to be a long year and a complete race with a top 5 finish would be like the parting of the red sea.

    • j_c

      February 26, 2018 at 11:17 pm

      Last year the car with Speedsource got 3 third place finishes, one was at the Watkins Glen 6H. With the improved pace found this year, there’s a chance. Kind of funny how Joest was supposed to be a sure bet.

    • Tony R

      February 27, 2018 at 1:48 am

      Yep, the fire at the Sebring test about made me sick too! Fingers crossed they’ll resolve the issue over the next two weeks. And hopefully by Long Beach all will be well when I get to see them in person.

  26. fourloko

    February 27, 2018 at 8:16 am

    mazda is still partly owned by ford right? throw in the 3.5

    • MP19

      February 27, 2018 at 8:58 am

      nope sold their shares in 2015

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