While the Prototype category in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship predominately features existing DP or P1/P2 teams from either GRAND-AM or the ALMS, SpeedSource is one of the new kids on the block for 2014.
The factory Mazda squad has moved from the now-defunct GX class to the premier category with its new SKYACTIV-D-powered Lola-based prototypes, which make their public debuts in this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24.
Utilizing the same 2.2-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that was used in the Mazda6 GX cars last year, the Florida-based operation has spent the recent months pairing its proven powerplant with the Lola B12/80 chassis.
“We knew about the engine; we knew about the car. We didn’t know about how this engine in this car would work together. So it’s been a lot of tweaking to get better,” team owner Sylvain Tremblay told Sportscar365. “I think we’re well-prepared to be here.
“It’s a little frustrating as the goal posts seem to be moving on us all the time, with bigger restrictors, etc. We’re just putting our head down. We’re lucky to have two cars so we can learn twice as much. We benefited a whole bunch with the GX program of having multiple cars.”
Having completed ten days of testing so far, including a two-day session at Daytona last month, Tremblay said much of the focus this weekend will be on optimizing the car’s cooling systems, to provide maximum performance.
As a result, there are some visible differences in the aero package, including an air intake located on the roof.
“This car is not really designed for this type of [track],” Tremblay said. “We’re learning and trying to make the most of it. Hopefully we’ll be competitive by the time we get to the Rolex. We’ve got a lot of stuff we’re going to try this weekend. It will be an important three days for us.”
Tremblay confirmed the cars will likely return to Daytona later this month under a full Mazda homologation, with the paperwork for the chassis already in progress. A final nomenclature has yet to be decided upon.
Despite the move away from the Lola badge, SpeedSource will continue to work closely with Multimatic and the car’s chief designer, Julian Sole, who will be on-site at nearly every round.
“Obviously Julian and the guys at Lola/Multumatic have done a great job with this car,” Tremblay said. “I think it’s been under the radar because no real strong teams have run it for a while. But the basis, from what we’ve found, it’s definitely very tunable. It’s a great car to work with and it’s a coupe, it’s the way of the future.”
As for the driver lineup, only Tremblay has been confirmed for the full-season, although his teammates from last year’s GX program, Tristan Nunez, Joel Miller and Tom Long, are all expected to test this weekend.
It’s understood a formal driver announcement could be released as early as Thursday.