Mazda officially confirmed as new engine for Indy Lights

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The Mazda Road to Indy is now officially Mazda-powered in all three levels of the ladder system.

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires now joins the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda as… well… powered by Mazda.

The announcement isn’t a surprise; it was hinted at on Wednesday and has been long overdue for the Indy Lights series, which hasn’t had an engine badge since Infiniti dropped out in the mid-2000s.

Still, the new engines had been revealed as AERs and expected to remain that way for some time given a lack of badging revealed with the new Dallara IL15 chassis announcement this May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Alas, the Mazda engine is no different than what has already been announced. The new chassis will feature the 2.0-liter turbocharged Mazda MZR-R, originally developed in conjunction with aforementioned Advanced Engine Research (AER).

The MZR-R was first campaigned by Mazda in the American Le Mans Series and Mazda customer teams in the European Le Mans Series.  The engine enjoyed several milestone victories, among them were Mazda’s first-ever major North American overall sports car racing win and the 2011 LMP1 engine manufacturers championship.  The engine, further developed by AER, will be designed to produce 450 horsepower and last an entire season without a rebuild.

“One of the reasons we joined up with AER, is that they build capable engines, and this is a derivative of that,” said Andersen Promotions head Dan Andersen. “We had hoped to work out an agreement with Mazda where they would assume the engine of this car. So it’s a perfect marriage of having Mazda on this engine.”

Added Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan, “I’ve been coming to Indianapolis since I was seven years old. We’ve run here in sports cars. But we’ll have Mazdas on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That makes my hair stand up.

“The partnership with Andersen Promotions, I can’t say enough about. (Dan) has been like a father figure to me.”

Perhaps the most salient point of the announcement – made at today’s Performance Racing Industry (PRI) trade show in Indianapolis – came from INDYCAR’s Brian Barnhart.

“Mazda’s involvement is just as important (as Honda and Chevrolet) if not more so, given their involvement in all three levels,” he said. “It sometimes gets overlooked. They’ve shown incredible commitment and support. We appreciate Mazda’s commitment and what they do for the ladder system.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.