The Mazda prototype program hasn’t always been the fastest or most reliable car on the grid, but since the RT-24P debuted in 2017 it has definitely been the prettiest. It’s been a long and hard road for the Mazda prototype program over the years, but since the team shook the monkey from its back with a Watkins Glen victory in 2019, it has been running up front pretty consistently ever since. In the final three seasons of the program, the car took a 12 Hours of Sebring win, a Petit Le Mans win, two 6 Hours of the Glen victories, and additional wins at Mosport, Daytona, and Road America. Pretty good.
The company got back into top-tier American endurance racing when ALMS and Grand Am merged in 2014, joining the Prototype class with a pair of Lola B08/80s powered by SkyActivD diesel engines. They, uh, didn’t do well. After an abysmal 2014 and 2015 with that car, the company switched back to its old faithful gasoline combustion MZ 2-liter turbo engine, which it would stick with through the end of the program. That brought the Lola-chassis Mazda closer to the front, securing the program’s first overall podium in Detroit in 2016.
For 2017 the DPi class debuted and Mazda’s Riley/Multimatic-based RT24-P was the aesthetic class of the field, if not the racing one. After some middling results, the Hiroshima company called an audible and bailed on the rest of the season to give the whole program a re-think. When it came back with Le Mans-winning Joest onboard everyone thought their problems would be solved.
As it turns out, German Joest and Japanese Mazda did not work together in a copacetic fashion at all. It wasn’t until the company got Multimatic themselves involved in running the squad that things really started to develop for the better. 2019 was the breakout year, and the team broke out in a big way. Three wins in a row across the summer. More wins came in the extremely weird 2020 season, and even after the program scaled down to one car in 2021 and announced it was ending, it took a dramatic overall victory at Petit Le Mans to end the season this November, and it ruled!
As a brief thank you letter to its fans, Mazda produced this short video to say so long and thanks for all the trophies. I, for one, am bummed as hell that Mazda isn’t coming back to the grid in 2022, or developing a new LMDh car, but hopefully it will be back on top sooner rather than later. Goodbye Mazda. Zoom Zoom.