Could the diesel engine be about to go mainstream? It’s been years since any non-German automaker has had any kind of success with Rudolf Diesel’s invention, but vehicles like the Chevy Cruze, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mazda Mazda6 will soon join the club, with that latter entry already making a name for itself in Grand-Am Road Racing. In fact, a 2014 Mazda Mazda6 racecar—motivated by one of the company’s SKYACTIV-D diesel engines—just claimed its first Grand-Am checkered flag in the “Visual Studio Ultimate Grand Prix of Atlanta,” held at the famed Road Atlanta circuit as part of the 2013 Rolex sports car Series.
The hard-fought victory came in just the fourth event of the season—and of the Mazda6 diesel’s racing career—and saw the No. 00 car driven by Joel Miller and Andrew Carbonell outduel a Porsche Cayman to win the GX class by just 1.173 seconds. Also, joining that pair on the podium were Sylvain Tremblay and Tom Long, who drove their Mazda Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D racer to a third-place finish.
"The new Mazda6 prepared by SpeedSource ran perfectly. The torque of the SKYACTIV-D pulled up the elevation changes around the Road Atlanta circuit strongly and the Mazda6 handled beautifully,” reported Miller. “I'm proud to be racing the Mazda6 and to be a part of Mazda history in gaining the first SKYACTIV Technology victory."
At this stage in the season, Long and Tremblay are tied for second in the driver points standings, while Miller’s win helped him move up to third; the MazdaSpeed/Speedsource crew holds a similar position in the race for the team championship, and Mazda trails only Porsche in the chase for the manufacturer’s title.
And while the diesel variant of the 2014 Mazda Mazda6 won’t reach dealerships until this summer, the gasoline-powered model is on sale now and is developing a pretty fair winning record of its own … .