While yet to make its competition debut, Mazda’s new gasoline-powered engine has received high marks from drivers who have been part of the testing program, including Jonathan Bomarito.
The Mazda factory ace, and 2014 TUDOR Championship GT Le Mans runner-up, has been impressed with the transformation from its diesel powerplant to the AER-tuned, 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo, which ran for the first time in the car last month.
“It’s basically a whole new package with the gas engine,” Bomarito told Sportscar365. “Anytime you have that, you expect as a driver some teething problems, a lot of ins and outs and a lot of time sitting in the car on pit lane as engineers are analyzing data with a lot of downloads.
“But the transition has been unbelievable. It’s already a proven engine. The install the SpeedSource guys did was awesome. We’ve just been able to run laps.”
Bomarito and Tristan Nunez took part in a successful single-day test with Mazda’s new package at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last week, which saw the pairing unofficially turn laps in the range of two other prototypes at the test, including the eventual race-winning Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP.
“We’re back in a program where we’re working on going fast,” Bomarito said. “We’re not worried about anything except sheer speed and lap time. It’s nice. We’re constantly working on the balance of the race car now and performance.
“It pulls super hard all the way down the straightaway. When you’re going faster, the car makes more downforce in an aero car. In turn, I think we have a little bit more downforce because of that.
“[Canadian Tire Motorsport Park] is a sheer downforce track. It was the first time we really got to drive the car in anger that way with that much downforce. It gets your attention for sure.
“There was other Prototype cars here, two DPs. So we were there testing and we were timing them and we were timing ourselves and we’re in the mix. You can see it on the guy’s faces, that extra bit of push and adrenaline and excitement.
“We know we’re competitive with this package right away. It’s very exciting.”
While Mazda has yet to confirm when the gas engine will make its debut, Bomarito is confident the SpeedSource crew will be ready for the task of helping deliver a potential race-winning effort when it does.
“Strategy. Pit stops. Driver changes. We’ve been working on all of that as hard, if not harder than any team out here so far,” he said. “The situation we don’t want to get in is that we have a competitive car but all the other things in the program isn’t competitive.
“That’s not going to be the case. We’re ready for all of those things. Our pit stops are as good as any other team. Our driver changes are good. We have amazing guys on the pit box calling strategy.
“We really feel as a team, as a whole, that we’re ready to compete at that level.”