Mazda – An ALMS / Le Mans Prototype?
Autosport gives considerable space this week to the likelihood of Mazda entering the ALMS, and perhaps Le Mans, probably in 2006 - a story that really began here as long ago as June 2003.

Yojiro Terada told us as 13 months ago, on June 9 2003, that he expected to be racing at Le Mans in 2004, in a prototype: “It should be with a Mazda engine, in a car designed specifically for the rotary.”

That project didn’t come to fruition, Terada racing again with his friends at WR at Le Mans this year, powered by Peugeot, but last month we broke the “official rumour” that Mazda wanted to be involved in the ALMS.

“Mazda is ‘officially’ letting it be known that the company in the USA, with Richard Davis, VP of Product Planning and Motorsports (that should have read Robert Davies, senior vice president of marketing and product development of Mazda North America), in charge, is actively interested in entering a car – prototype or GT, no decision yet – in the ALMS. The engine will be a rotary unit,” were the words we used last month.

Robert Davies admits in Autosport today that a decision on which class to enter has yet to be made, although indications still point to a prototype – or maybe something else.

Unsubstantiated rumours at Le Mans suggested that a new class was being considered for the ALMS: four door sports saloons. Scott Atherton confirms in the UK weekly that such a category is being considered. Apparently a first draft of the proposed regulations has been distributed to potential entrants, with Cadillac as the most likely manufacturer to be first into the fray.

If this new class goes ahead, it would take the ALMS a little further still from the basic framework of the ACO’s own regulations.

Mazda is still the only Japanese manufacturer to have won Le Mans, and the ALMS officials make no secret of the fact that they want manufacturers back in the ALMS, to join GM’s Corvette Racing effort. The ACO has also made no secret of the fact that it wants the Japanese back at Le Mans. A Japanese team won overall this year of course.

 

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