Testing is a critical part of the success of every major race team. While the No. 07 Mazda Prototype has been racing in each round of the TUDOR Series this year, the No. 70 team has been anything but idle as they continue to test the chassis and a new iteration of the petrol-fueled Mazda sports car engine. Jonathan Bomarito gives you an inside look at what testing is like for a driver.
Hi everyone. As many of you already know, the No. 70 Mazda Prototype that my teammate Tristan Nunez and I drive has not been competing in the last few rounds of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. (We expect to be back in action with the SKYACTIV-D engine at the next race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.) However, we have been doing a lot of testing with a new iteration of the Mazda gasoline engine that was developed for sports car racing. I will give a driver’s perspective on what we have been working on during these tests and how the new engine is to drive.
When you start a testing program with new components on the race car, you have to take your time making sure there are no big problems right away. This means we are doing several out laps and then straight back to pit lane where the crew thoroughly inspect the car for any leaks or smells. Once we have done this a few times, you start gaining confidence and build up to three- to four-lap runs where the engineers are zoned in to all the telemetry monitoring the engine. I have been extremely impressed with how little time it has taken to gain confidence in the reliability and to begin testing the overall pace of the race car.
Road America was our most recent test which took place on the Tuesday of race week. It is very valuable to test right before or right after a race. This way you can look at lap times and have a more accurate answer on your overall pace of the testing program. We were able to run approximately 400 trouble-free miles, which included a full fuel run at the end of the day. During our test, we changed a lot of chassis/handling items on the car. By the end of the day, I was very happy with the balance of the race car. Driver confidence is everything – and at Road America it is a fine balance between downforce and drag because of the long straights.
Looking back at the in-car video, it almost looked easy to run very fast and competitive lap times. This is a good sign that the race car is handling very well. The prototype class is so closely fought, that in order to run competitive lap times the race car has to do everything well. Our straight-line speed was fast, braking zones were stable so I could brake very late, and our minimum corner speeds were high. The drivability of the engine has been awesome and this is another key factor in having a race car that is consistent and easier to drive. What I mean by drivability is how the power curve of the engine kicks in and has good power from low to high RPMs. This allows the driver to be in a good RPM range no matter where you are on the track.
Everyone on the team is really looking forward to showcasing the new gasoline engine against the best of the best. Now that we have done a considerable amount of testing, I feel very confident that our speed and reliability will be a force in the championship. See you at the track soon!