Freedom Autosport tested the new No. 25 Mazda6 with a SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Monday, Jan. 21, in preparation for their GRAND-AM Rolex Series debut in the GX class during this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Longtime Freedom Autosport drivers Derek Whitis, Rhett O’Doski, Tom Long and Andrew Carbonell will co-drive the Mazda6. It marks the first time that all four drivers have shared the same car.
In fact, they will still be in separate cars on Friday, when the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge kicks off with a 2.5-hour race. As usual, Whitis and Long will share the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5, while O’Doski and Carbonell will be in the No. 26 Mazda.
This weekend marks Carbonell’s Rolex Series debut, but he says getting used to co-driving with everyone will be easy. “Even when we have the two Mazda MX-5s in the Street Tuner class, we talk about everything and include each other in setups and strategy. It’s almost like we’re in one car already. To all be together now is cool; it’s like a family and we always have a great time together. It’s a great group effort.”
“We’re really excited about this opportunity that Mazda is providing,” says team co-owner Whitis. “It’s a privilege to be one of the first drivers to get to race the new Mazda6 in an entirely new class. Mazda has a great heritage in sports car racing, and this is a new chapter by entering into racing a diesel car.”
For Freedom Autosport, that new chapter began during Monday’s test at Homestead. “The car ran really well and we got a chance to adjust to the differences with a diesel engine,” says Long. “SpeedSource, who is prepping the Mazda6, is working closely with us so that we’re prepared for every aspect of entering a 24-hour race.”
“This is really a step forward for Freedom Autosport, and we’ll be relying on all of our experience in the Continental Tire series to give Mazda a strong finish,” says Freedom Autosport co-owner O’Doski. “We’re looking forward to increasing awareness of the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund during our Rolex Series debut at Daytona, too.”
Freedom Autosport’s first race at Daytona will be the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season opener on Friday, Jan. 25. The race begins at 1:45 p.m. ET. Less than 24 hours after that race ends, the team will take the green flag on their debut Rolex 24 at Daytona. See Freedom Autosport and the new No. 25 Mazda6 start the historic endurance race on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. live for 25 hours of coverage on SPEED Channel.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona, the prestigious season-opening event to the Rolex Sports Car Series, is scheduled to start on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 3:30 p.m. A star-studded driver lineup from around the world will battle the 3.56-mile road course in Daytona Prototypes, GT and GX class cars for a coveted victory in the twice-around-the-clock challenge.
Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available online or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Tent camping, only for the Rolex 24, is still available outside Turns 1 & 2 in the GEICO Park West Lot for $20.
Tickets for the Budweiser Speedweeks At Daytona are available online or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
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