Mazda’s time racing in top-tier sports car competitions is coming to an end.
The Japanese manufacturer confirmed this morning that it will be closing its already reduced Daytona Prototype programme at the end of 2021.
The news also confirms that Mazda will not push on with LMDh – the next generation of prototype racing in the United States scheduled to fully be unveiled in 2023.
Mazda first ventured into prototype racing back in 1984, becoming a global powerhouse in endurance racing with its twin-rotor 13B engine. That motor would pave the way to the development of the R26B, which would win Le Mans in 1991.
Joining the reformed IMSA series in 2014, Mazda initially found themselves tussling amongst the tail-enders as they struggled with their four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. But they have since had an uptick in competitiveness and last year achieved their best ever result with an overall win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Mazda then scaled back its operations to just a one-car entry for the 2021 season, suggesting that an exit from the series was imminent.
Still, they manage to claim a podium finish in the season-opening Daytona 24 Hour a fortnight ago, adding to their second-place finish in 2020.
“Mazda has a long history in racing and recently added several DPi victories and podium finishes during the 2020 season,” read a statement. “This is a tribute to our ‘never stop challenging’ spirit.
“We’re especially proud of our victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring, podium finishes at Daytona’s Rolex 24 in both 2020 and 2021, and record-setting laps at Daytona in 2019 and 2020.
“These are significant accomplishments in the history of Mazda Motorsports. We thank our drivers, team, partners, and our fans for their years of support, and look forward to a strong 2021 season.”
Mazda’s withdrawal will leave just Cadillac and Acura on the DPi grid for the 2022 WeatherTech Championship season. The following season will then see Audi and Porsche return to the fold.
The manufacturer’s final race with their current RT24-P prototype will be the Petit Le Mans on October 9.