Mazda’s Prototype program has its best endurance race at Sebring

Photo: Mazda Motorsports

Let’s face facts: Mazda’s endurance race program the last few years since 2013 has been the embodiment of “development program” and not one that’s been properly able to contend for results.

But on Saturday in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida, Mazda finally nailed the mix of competitiveness, pace and reliability that has eluded it either with the GX class Mazda 6 and Prototype, both of which used the SKYACTIV Diesel engine that was fitted to the race car based on Mazda’s road cars.

With the new gasoline AER engine on board, the re-dubbed Mazda MZ-2.0T engine held up for all 12 hours as both the team’s No. 55 and 70 Prototypes finished in the top 10 overall, sixth and eighth, for the first time.

The No. 55 car was on the lead lap with Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez and Spencer Pigot, ending sixth after Nunez did well to qualify the car fifth. A speeding penalty in the second hour and a very minor off for Pigot in the sixth hour were the lone setbacks, and neither one proved damning.

Nunez, who’s been through the last few years of heartache in endurance races, said this result was all the sweeter given the past trials and tribulations.

“It’s an emotional finish. It’s been such a tough three years and to have a finish like that on the lead lap is a dream come true for me,” he said.

“Being in the top class and finishing that well against guys like [Christian] Fittipaldi and [Rubens] Barrichello. It’s surreal. It was chess match to decide dry or wet [tires]. It’s crucial to have a good relationship between the engineer and driver so that you can make decisions like that on the fly. We did a good job making the right choices.”

The No. 70 car’s race was a little more eventful, particularly during Keiko Ihara’s maiden stint in the car in the second hour. She had a spin at Turn 17, reversed out, then had the wheels running on a pit stop and that triggered a pit lane penalty.

Nonetheless, as she co-drove with that car’s full-season drivers Tom Long and Joel Miller and endurance race regular Ben Devlin, the car managed to keep on progressing and end eighth – just one lap down to the overall leader.

Long qualified and started the car and reflected on the team’s progress.

“I had a lot of fun at the start. It was exciting in the dry and amazing to think that we were going to go through so much adversity in the wet soon after,” he said.

“Managing the heat is something that all race car drivers are working toward. Knowing Sebring is traditionally a very hot race, the physical training that all of our drivers do is all high-intensity, high heart-rate with extended time in the heat to train these conditions. It certainly paid off, and I felt very fresh coming out of the car once I cooled down a bit. Overall, an exciting day, and we overcame a lot of adversity.”

Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.