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Juttner Hopeful of Making “Step Forward” With Mazda DPi

Ralf Juttner hopeful of making “step forward” in reliability of Mazda RT24-P this weekend…

Photo: John Dagys

Joest Racing Managing Director Ralf Juttner is hopeful of having made a “step forward” with the Mazda RT24-P this weekend at Sebring, following a troubled start to its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign.

The highly anticipated Mazda Team Joest debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona failed to live up to expectations, with both Mazda DPis retiring after multiple issues, including a race-ending engine failure for the No. 55 entry.

While the team returned to the track in last month’s IMSA-sanctioned Sebring Test, the same car also faced engine woes, forcing the German operation to pack up early.

Juttner, however, believes the team has turned the corner for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, both in preparation and sorting out additional reliability woes since the season-opener. 

“We as a team, the development of the car with Multimatic started very late,” Juttner told Sportscar365.

“Everyone was on the limit. It’s difficult to catch up on the season but I really hope we’ve made quite a step forward and just get some miles on the cars. That’s what we need.

“We just want to run trouble-free, more than anything else, to be honest. The rest comes automatically.”

Juttner said both of the Multimatic-built Prototypes were rebuilt from the ground-up since Daytona, where they were able to find a number of solutions to reliability-related issues that plagued the cars.

“The boys spent a lot of time and went through every little detail; all the stuff we didn’t have the time up until now,” he said. “It’s their cars now.

“We found quite a bit already after Daytona. That should have shown at the test but it was cut short by an engine failure.

“We just didn’t want to risk the second car; that’s why we stopped after the first day.

“I’m pretty optimistic that we’ve sorted quite a bit out. Multimatic [have] done a big deal. AER is working on the issues we had in Daytona, as well as the rest of the team.”

Engine Update In the Pipeline?

While having continued to battle issues with the AER-tuned Mazda MZ-2.0T engine, Juttner acknowledged they have “some ideas” that are under evaluation but stressed there’s no immediate fix.

Rumors have pointed to the development of a enlarged version of the current 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo, or even potentially switching to AER’s LMP1 powerplant that’s used in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

However, no major engine updates would be expected this season, with IMSA understood to be encouraging manufacturers to make engine changes or refreshes at the start of each year instead of mid-season.

“There are a few things in the pipeline,” Juttner said. “But lead times are a bit longer. We have to work on for sure. It’s a major issue. But we’re getting there. Longer-term, there’s a lot of ideas around being investigated.”

Juttner believes the car’s improved cooling, courtesy of Multimatic’s extensive updates package, has actually contributed to the recent spell of engine issues.

“With the cooling, everything is now where it should be compared to last year,” he said. “I do believe that the engines are much higher power because they can.

“I think that’s what has happened in a way. It’s highly stressed anyway. Maybe that little bit took it over the limit.”

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 FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. SE30ASport

    March 14, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    I fully appreciate how open they’re being about acknowledging the ongoing issues, but it’s not in any way, shape, or form encouraging. I’m also thrown for a loop in regards to the claim of having no time to thoroughly work the cars over until after Daytona. I’m sure there was probably a lot of lead time until final joker changes actually made it into production (and I remember parts delays were mentioned during Daytona.) But heck, they took half of 2017 off so they wouldn’t be pushing so late for 2018.

    • Kirk

      March 14, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Yep. The Mazda’s were absent from the last half of ’17 so they could be well prepared for ’18. It seems they’re trying to pin their misfortune on just about everything except the elephant in the middle of the room – that crappy engine. It’s cooling, it’s too much cooling, it’s lack of test time, it’s one excuse after another. All I know is if those Mazda’s were horses they’d have been shot a long time ago.

  2. GimmeShelter

    March 14, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Gorgeous prototype…can’t wait for its first win.

  3. N8

    March 14, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    This weekend will definitely be a test. It’s on to the short races after though. If these upgrades can get this car to the 2.75 hour mark, there’s no reason they can’t compete for the rest of the season.

  4. Mike S

    March 14, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Wait I thought improved cooling helps engines from grenading. What am I missing? I know that small engine is just a tiny nuclear reactor when it comes to heat. I appreciate their openness and looks like a good strategy to fix these issues short term while developing a new engine potential for longer term fix which I think is more promising for 2019.

    • Dave Henrie

      March 14, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      The way I read the article, they had pushed the power output last year trying to get even with the other cars, but the cooling forced them to scale back power just to survive. Now with the added cooling, they can run the engine at it’s maximum allowed output and that again is overstressing the engine components which previously haven’t had to deal with the fully unleashed engine.
      I find AER’s problems kinda odd, they were the KING of endurance racing with C-65, Lolas etc. VERY VERY reliable and powerful. Dyson Lola’s with 2.0L turbo’s often propelled their lighter LMP2 cars at speeds matching the mighty Audi R8. Where did AER lose it’s way?

      • Indy_Nut

        March 15, 2018 at 9:02 am

        Their P60B appears to have worked great in testing for the BRE/SMP LMP1 venture. I agree,from memory the older engines were reliable. However, one thing I have not heard spoke of is the BOP of all the engines across the grid. I heard whispers at Daytona that the AER engine was pushing 650+hp just to keep the car on the pace and that the Caddy’s were below the series Gibson engine spec power of 600hp. For me, that would make sense when you consider the original car was a Riley design. They likely have not re-designed the whole chassis for this year.

  5. Jean Marc Poitras

    March 14, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    Does anybody know the reason or reasons why Mazda keeps pushing “odd” engines ?
    Wankel….zoom zoom this….a 2 litre turbo while the rest of the world seems to go for V6 or V8???
    Oh yeah,I forgot a 4 cyl. Diesel…..what else am I missing?
    I have been following this kind of racing for the better part of 45 years and to me it just does not make any sense to bring the proverbial knife to a gun fight……please help…..the only success I remember was the rotary 789 B and it was at best limited to a few races including Les vingt quatre heures de Le Mans…..

    • j_c

      March 14, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Mazda has always liked punching above their weight. This 2.0 liter isn’t going to cut it though.

      I’d say Mazda’s last big win was the 2010 Daytona 24 in the GT class with a rotary. They won some sprint races through 2012 until the RX-8 was discontinued.

      • Andy Flinn

        March 14, 2018 at 7:12 pm

        Mazda also won the 2010 Grand-Am Rolex GT championship.

    • Andy Flinn

      March 14, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      That “odd” Wankel rotary engine has an extensive winning history in IMSA and Le Mans competition. This includes multiple consecutive championships for the Mazda Rx-7 in IMSA GTU over cars like the Datsun Z, Porsche 911 and 924 Turbo, and Dan Gurney’s AAR factory Toyota Celicas.

      In fact, for a while, the Wankel rotary Mazda Rx-7 was the winningest car in IMSA history.

    • Forrest

      March 14, 2018 at 10:15 pm

      At least recently Mazda has used smaller displacement engines, because their marketing folks want the race cars to show relevance to their road cars, which all come with either 2.0 or 2.5 L, inline 4 cylinder engines. They put the diesel in the previous LMP2, because Mazda was suppose to introduce a diesel engine in the USA, which they still haven’t done. Mazda has said this is because they couldn’t get the performance from the diesel they wanted, while still meeting US emission standards, since they weren’t willing to cheat the rules, unlike some other car companies. I’m wondering what effect, if any, their new HCCI engine will have on their racing plans.

    • FLB

      March 15, 2018 at 9:52 am

      As a manufacturer, Mazda only has 4-cylinder engines in their current North American lineup. It makes sense for them to run a 4-banger in IMSA for marketing reasons.

  6. southcove

    March 14, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    You’re right, it’s a very strange strategy that seems to backfire or bring poor results year after year… can’t figure out how the folks that decide keep deciding this totally unrewarding path, season after season.

    Not only wasted marketing but drivers and teams reputations have taken a real beating, some never to recover.

  7. Jean Marc Poitras

    March 14, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I guess I should not have used the word “odd” to describe the engines……different configurations or considerably smaller displacement would or should have been more appropriate. I recall some good conversations with Roger Mandeville regarding his connection with the Mazda rotary…..1994 comes to mind here in Daytona during the 24 while his Kudzu contributed to my lost of hearing😀

  8. Jose Centeno

    March 14, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    I’d have to say that when Dyson ran the P07 back in 2007, there was reliability and they ran strong as an LMP1. I’m wondering is this engine the P14 that Dyson replaced in 2009 or a newly developed project from AER? Joest the 2.5L is an option.

    • Slicks in the wet

      March 15, 2018 at 11:57 am

      It’s based on a late 2011 evo of the AER in the Dyson Lolas.

  9. trash heap

    March 14, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    another dnf incoming for this car. it cant be saved

    • DEJ

      March 15, 2018 at 1:46 am

      Yep !! Gonna step on themselves again after 4 hours

  10. Ramshoek

    March 15, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Extracting 600 hp from a little 2 litre turbo sounds like more of a task than doing so from a 3,8 V6 turbo or an atmospheric 5.5 V8. My initial reaction to Mazda having reliability issues therefor was ‘it’s their own fault’.

    But powerfull 2 litre turbo’s can be found racing all over the world. Toyota, Honda and Nissan run them in Super GT. Running them reliably several races per unit. DTM will use them from 2019 onwards and their regs state: 1 engine per season. Powerfull 2 litres have been running successfully in the 80’s and 90’s. So it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Mazda’s marketing department can’t be blamed for electing to use a powerplant like the ones that can be found in their production car line-up. At the end of the day they should perhaps be praised. DPi could easily have been the American equivalent of LMP2, all powered by a Gibson racing engine or perhaps all powered by the same 350 CI smallblock crate engine. In stead DPi now has a nice variety of different engines and engine concepts, ranging from big V8’s through turbo’d V6’s to small 4 cilinder turbo’s. I like that diversity !



    But perhaps one day in the not so distant future, Mazda manages to merge their SpCCI tech with their Rotory expertise and we can enjoy the sound of a screaming, powerfull and efficient Rotary propelling the Joest Mazda DPi’s to greatness.

    • Slicks in the wet

      March 15, 2018 at 12:02 pm

      Also, I’m pretty sure that this is a Mazda USA game.

      They merely begged Mazda Japan for some cash and ability to stop having to market a diesel here.

      The real Mazda company isn’t involved. It’s why they can’t afford better chassis or engine to start with.

      I’d not expect an in-house engine design because the tiny Mazda headquarters in Irvine literally cannot afford it.

  11. Mazda Greg

    March 15, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    Slicks in the wet, correct. As an employee for a Japaneese company they would rather bang there heads on the wall to fix something than claim defeat. The little four cyclinder is just in over its head but I am so hoping for some respectable racing and a finish this weekend. Love the looks of the car but its whats inside that counts. Keeping my fingers crossed.

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