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Mazda gears up for the Tudor United SportsCar Championship with a diesel prototype

When one thinks of modern diesel evangelists, the Germans usually come to mind. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and the Volkswagen Group have made compression-ignition a big part of their green-car plans.

However, no one does diesel quite like Mazda. After developing its 2.2-liter “Skyactiv-D” four-cylinder engine, the Japanese carmaker took it racing in a 2014 6 touring car. Now, Mazda has a new diesel with racing numbers.

Mazda plans to enter a diesel prototype in the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship, an amalgam of U.S. sports-car racing series that will launch this year.

Mazda isn’t the first to field a diesel prototype (the Audi R10 became the first diesel to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 2006), but the Zoom-Zoom brand will have the only diesel competing on this side of the Atlantic in top-tier sports-car racing.

It should also make a great marketing tool.

At the heart of the car is an engine that displaces the same 2.2 liters as the stock Skyactiv-D. In fact, Mazda says the race engine shares 51 percent of its parts with its stock counterpart.

Peak output is 450 horsepower and 580 pound-feet of torque, and gear changes are handled by an Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission with paddle shifters.

The diesel engine doesn’t have to push much: the carbon-fiber monocoque chassis weighs just 1,984 pounds, without a driver or fuel. The car has reached 186 mph in testing.

Look for the Mazda diesel prototype racer–and the rest of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship–to debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month.