Image credits: © Mazda.

1992 Mazda MXR-01

Mazda's final entry for the sports car racing scene was the Mazda MXR-01 of 1992. Mazda had won the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hours with the rotary-powered Mazda 787B, which was quickly banned by the FIA which no longer allowed rotary powered cars. Teams were permitted to use 3.5-liter powerplants similar to those being used in Formula One. Mazda's powerplants mostly revolved around rotary technology and felt the cost of developing an entirely new engine would be too costly. If Mazda were to develop a V10 powerplant, it would be too larger to be housed in the 787B.

Mazda settled on buying an existing V10 engine and using a design based on the Jaguar XJR-14. A suitable engine, a Judd was found with Engine Developments, a company founded in 1971 by John Judd and Jack Brabham in England. They had developed a GV10 3.5 liter V10 for the 1991 formula one season. The deal allowed the engine to be labeled as Mazdas, wearing the name MV10.

With a suitable engine, Mazda sourced a Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) designed chassis. Jaguar had used the design for the XJR-14, but left sportscar racing at the conclusion of the 1991 season. Work on the XJR-14 began near the close of 1989 and used a carbon-fiber tub, ground-effect tunnels, and a short and narrow front section. The suspension was comprised of transverse torsion bars that were mounted to the pedal box due to size constraints. The rear featured more conventional coil springs actuated by push-rods. Power was from Ford's Cosworth narrow V8 F1 engine.

The Jaguar XJR-14 had no doors; instead, a removable side window allowed the driver to enter and exit the vehicle. The driver configuration was right-hand-drive with a centrally mounted gear left. The XJR-14 was used by Jaguar for two seasons and earned six victories.

TWR offered the chassis to manufacturers and privateers, and Mazda purchased five (chassis numbers MXR 01 #001 through 005). Just like the Judd engine, the chassis was renamed as the Mazda MXR-01 and given minor styling changes to distinguish it from the other TWR cars, such as changes to the headlamps and different side view mirrors.

Although the Mazda MXR-01 was a new car for the 1992 season, it used prior year's technology and design, which meant the Judd powerplant was considerably underpowered compared to other factory teams, such as the well-funded Peugeot and Toyota teams. Since Mazda lacked adequate funds to fully develop the race car, including modifications and continuous upgrades, the MXR-01 raced throughout the season mostly unchanged.

Chassis number 002 and 003 were test cars for the Le Mans 24 Hour race. Chassis number 001 exclusively in the JPSC (All Japan Sports Prototype Championship) while chassis number 004 raced in the WSC (World Sports Car Championship), including at LeMans. It was joined at Le Mans by a second car, chassis number 005.

During the 1992 World Sportscar Championship season, the MXR-01 (chassis 004) managed to score a second-place finish at the 500km of Silverstone, its best result of the season. It led at Le Mans briefly at various parts of the first hour, ultimately finishing in a respectable four, just shy of the podium. The team would race two cars at Le Mans, while the rest of the season it was a single-car effort.

MazdaSpeed campaigned chassis number 001 in the JPSC, finishing the season in 2nd place in the constructor's championship.

Due to dwindling competitor's cars counts in the class C division during the 1992 season, both the WSC and JSPC were canceled at the end of the year.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2020

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