What a fabulous event the Long Beach Grand Prix is! Last weekend was a great experience. The whole team was excited to be there, and the increased performance over last year of our SKYACTIV Mazdas was fantastic.
Having Southern California’s sandy beaches just outside the street circuit walls and the palm tree-lined Shoreline Drive as the front straight makes Long Beach such a different experience from any other race on the schedule.
We had specific goals going into the race, and we knew exactly where our strengths would be. We were able to capitalize on those to have a clean, reliable race and bring both cars home for a top-ten finish. The team was able to cut the performance gap in half compared to last season, which is a huge accomplishment.
The race was a very different format than the 36 hours we did in Florida – Long Beach is a 100-minute sprint race – so the mindset and strategy was quite different. Strategically, we were able to utilize our strengths, one of them being the ability to make our fuel stop and driver change early without needing an extra stop at the end, thanks to the fuel range of the SKYACTIV diesel engine. Pitting early allowed us to get back out on track so we would be in position to overtake the field if a caution came out.
With both cars running clean and getting a good finish at Long Beach, the race gave the team what it needs to be prepared for our home race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in two weeks.