IMPROVED MAZDA PROTOTYPE TEAM PREPARED FOR TWELVE HOURS OF SEBRING
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By: Mazda

• Team's Performance Gains Expected to Continue in Historic 12 Hour Race

March 16, 2015 (IRVINE, Calif.) – If optimism was high within the Mazda Prototype team prior to the season-opening 24-hour race at Daytona, it's only higher for this week's Twelve Hours of Sebring featuring the TUDOR United SportsCar Series. The 63rd-annual Sebring race takes the green flag at 10:45 a.m. E.T. Saturday morning. Fans can watch the race live from the Mazda in-car cameras with audio from the IMSA Radio broadcast at MazdaLIVE.com.

Now in a second season of development, the much improved Prototypes enter the Sebring event after driver Tom Long drove the No. 07 Mazda to the overall lead of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, becoming the first Mazda - and the first diesel-powered car - to ever lead at the 24 Hours. Compared to Daytona, the Sebring circuit is more suited to the torque and handling characteristics of the chassis and the four-cylinder 2.2-liter Mazda engine.

'The biggest thing with our SKYACTIV Mazda is that the cornering at Sebring - with 17 turns - is a much bigger emphasis over the course of a lap,' said Long. 'Our cars brake and handle very well and that's a huge piece at Sebring. It plays into our favor considerably. We saw that last season here, when were pleasantly surprised about how quick we were at some of the handling sections of the track. The car and engine are both much improved since then, so I expect we'll be even better in those areas and substantially better on the straightaways.'

The violently bumpy track surface is not just punishing on the cars, but also the drivers. Mazda driver Jonathan Bomarito, who finished second at Sebring last year in the GTLM category with SRT, says he adjusted his fitness routine a year in advance to handle the demands of the 12 Hours.

'Most of the worst bumps are in very high-speed corners,' said Bomarito. 'So you have high G-force loads at the same time as the bumps, which places even more forces through your entire body. It can be brutal. After last year's Sebring race, I was sore in certain areas where I was getting tired during the race, so by the time I got home, I had adjusted my (fitness) program to improve those areas for this year.'

Leading the race at Daytona - while seemingly a simple thing to outsiders - has been impactful for the entire team leading up to Sebring.

'It has made everyone hungrier to keep striving,' said Long. 'It was a proud moment for me - an honor - to be able to do that for the SpeedSource team and represent the gains we've made with Mazda. I saw on all of the guy's faces just how powerful that was. I think it's going to fuel us moving forward. It was just a taste - a taste of what we hadn't had yet with the development program. I think there's a lot more there (to improve), and especially at tracks like Sebring or Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, we have a really good shot at doing a whole lot more of it. Everyone can really see it: it's there to grasp.'

Mazda Driver Lineup for 2015 12 Hours of Sebring:

No. 07 car: Tom Long, Joel Miller, Ben Devlin

No. 70 car: Tristan Nunez, Jonathan Bomarito, Sylvain Tremblay

Previous Sebring Race Results:

12 Hours of Sebring, 2014

No. 70 car: Drivers: Long, Devlin, Tremblay ST: 17 Fin: 11 Running

No. 07 car: Drivers: Miller, Nunez, Tristan Vautier ST: 16 Fin: 16 DNF/Wheel

2015 Race Results:

Rolex 24 at Daytona

No. 07 car: Miller, Long, Devlin, Tremblay ST: 15 Fin: 11 DNF: Overheating

No. 70 car: Bomarito, Nunez, James Hinchcliffe, Tremblay ST: 13 FIN: 12 DNF: Oil pump

Fast Fact:

The twin-turbocharged engine, built using a stock block from Mazda's production line, generates massive amounts of pressure in the fuel rails: up to 32,625 pounds per square inch (2,250 bar)! The temperature for the sustainable diesel fuel into the engine is approximately 212 degrees F (100 C).

About Mazda Motorsports

Mazda's SKYACTIV Prototypes compete in the highest category of the TUDOR United SportsCar Series. The Prototype cars can also be seen in high schools across North America as a part of Mazda's extensive STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educational program called Racing Accelerates Creative Education (R.A.C.E). The program has reached more than 12,000 students since February, 2014.

On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. The largest road-racing class in the world is Spec Miata, with more than 2,500 first- and second-generation Miatas tearing up America's racetracks, making it the most-raced production car on earth.

Mazda's involvement in motorsports extends to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, one of the world's premier road-racing circuits, the Mazda Road to Indy and the Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazda Motorsports), Twitter (@MazdaRacing), Instagram (MazdaMotorsport) and www.MazdaMotorsports.com.

Mazda Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City. Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com, with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com.

posted on conceptcarz.com

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