Mazda’s slick engineering prototypes could preview the next MX-5 Cup racecar

There’s a lot to love about Mazda’s Global MX-5 Cup series. It may not be the fastest race, but its low barrier to entry and homogeneous competitive field make it a must-see for no-frills racers and fans alike.

The 2015 season is currently underway, but Mazda is already looking ahead. The brand unleashed twin engineering prototypes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this week, highlighting the final round of testing for the 2016 Cup car.

Eventually, the vehicle will be available for purchase for event competition (Cup racers are not street-legal), but there is much work to be done first. Mazda Skyactiv prototype racer Tom Long is leading the development of the car, sifting through over 392 base combinations from seven tire manufacturers, eight brake suppliers, and seven suspension kit partners to find the perfect setup.

“Testing the new MX-5 racer for the Global MX-5 Cup has been an incredible fit so far,” said Long. “The lightweight nimble chassis design, along with its increased power-to-weight ratio, makes this new platform balanced and a real thrill to drive. Taking the key elements that made the original MX-5 chassis so popular and successful, has come back to its roots in a reborn look.”

Since the MX-5 Cup series is a production-based event, all competitors will equip the same 2.0-liter engine as the production car. The four-pot makes 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque from the factory, but cold air intakes and other bolt-ons are allowed. Minimum weight is set at 2600 pounds, so ballasts are often used.

When final decisions are made, Mazda Motorsports will freeze vehicle specs and announce the turnkey price of the racecar later this summer.

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